A unique history

The Imagine Foundation which is dedicated to genetic diseases, was established in 2007 with Prof. Claude Griscelli as the founding president. In 2014, Imagine Institute opened its doors. Looking back on a recent yet already rich history

Imagine Institute

Today, genetic diseases affect more than 3 million people in France, many of them children. With more than 30,000 new cases per year, genetic diseases are a public health issue that affects us all.

Creating a dedicated space to take action against genetic diseases

Worldwide, a third of newborn babies admitted to intensive care units suffer from a genetic disease.

Today, it is estimated that there are just over 7,000 genetic diseases. Most are severe, chronic, disabling, and are life-threatening from childhood. They can affect several people from the same family.

Every year, a quarter of the 30,000 children who come to Necker-Enfants Malades hospital AP-HP for a consultation suffer from a genetic disease. It is the leading cause of hospitalization at Necker-Enfants Malades hospital AP-HP. It was necessary to create a dedicated space in order to provide optimum care for these patients and to accommodate the presence of specialists (researchers and clinicians) with the ad hoc technological and scientific means to advance research and find new treatments.

Because, as Prof. Claude Griscelli, the first President of the Imagine Foundation, likes to remind us, “these children, our children, need us.” It is to address this major public health issue and start a new crucial stage in this fight for life that the researchers and doctors at Necker-Enfants Malades hospital AP-HP, including Prof. Alain Fischer, Claude Griscelli, Corinne Antignac, Arnold Munnich, Stanislas Lyonnet, Marina Cavazzana, Olivier Hermine, Laurent Abel, Jean-Laurent Casanova et Nadine Cerf-Bensussan decided to join forces and create the Imagine Institute of genetic diseases.

We imagined a specialized research and healthcare institute to identify and treat patients with genetic diseases.

We imagined a place to bring clinicians and researchers together around patients.

We imagined an organization based on collaboration and synergy.

Institut Imagine's founding members



Imagine: Accelerating discoveries to help children with genetic diseases

The Institute, a center for research, care, and education which is inspired by patients and designed to bring research as close to them as possible, marries fundamental research, clinical research and technology transfer in order to optimize discoveries and fight more effectively against diseases that are serious, often disabling, and which can cause major difficulties for many families.

  • Imagine provides additional means to address a major public health issue.
  • Imagine provides additional means for meeting high patient expectations.

Created to serve sick children, today Imagine is the largest European center for research, education, and care with the goal of understanding and curing genetic diseases. It brings together numerous specialists from around the world in order to make the various specialties needed for optimum research and patient care available in one place. The organization was designed to promote communication and synergies between clinicians and researchers.

Great progress has already been made

But, faced with the challenge of genetic diseases, it is necessary to be even more ambitious, to go further, faster in order to help children and young adults, and support them as well as their families. For Imagine to be able to move forward, we all have to take action because every bit of help will be invaluable in winning this fight.


Imagine, a brief history


  • Creation of the Imagine Foundation, Scientific Cooperation Foundation
  • 6 founding members to identify, treat, develop, and share


  • First recruitments, first core facilities and equipment


  • Establishment and first meeting of Imagine’s Scientific Advisory Board chaired by Elizabeth Blackburn, 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine


  • IHU accreditation (University Hospital Institute), as part of the French Investments for the Future Program: 20 research teams, 12 reference centers for rare diseases and 6 clinical departments brought together at Necker-Enfants Malades hospital AP-HP
  • First call for applications for the MD-PhD program


  • First three Imagine teams recruited internationally


  • First call for tenders for the “Time for Research” program


  • Opening of the Imagine building
  • Inserm/Université Paris Cité Joint Research Unit (UMR) accreditation: merging of the 20 pre-existing teams
  • First two partner labs affiliated with the Necker-Enfants Malades hospital AP-HP
  • First treatment of a sickle-cell teenage patient with gene therapy in collaboration with Necker-Enfants Malades hospital


  • First edition of the Heroes charity gala
  • First call for applications for the International PhD program


  • Prof. Stanislas Lyonnet takes over from Prof. Alain Fischer as director of Imagine and Prof. Arnold Munnich takes over from Prof. Claude Griscelli as president of the Imagine Foundation
  • 1st class of the Master's degree in Bioentrepreneurship
  • ANR Tremplin Carnot status


  • Development of a therapeutic strategy to treat the autoimmune diseases known as interferonopathies
  • Creation of the House of Dior chair “Tailored Medicine by Dior”
  • Launch of the RHU C’IL LICO project “medicine of the future for ciliopathies with renal failure”
  • Domaine d’Intérêt Majeur [Area of Major Interest] accreditation by the Ile-de-France (Greater Paris) region for gene therapy
  • Recruitment of the 8th Imagine team


  • Assessment of the Institute’s 24 research labs by HCERES (High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education) and accreditation of the 24 labs (UMR, etc.)
  • From 15 to 25 reference centers for rare diseases on campus at Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital AP-HP affiliated with Imagine and 4 partner labs
  • 3rd edition of Heroes
  • 7th startup created at Imagine
  • 7th start-up created at Imagine


  • Launch of the RHU ATRACTion project "Primary immune deficiencies with autoimmunity or autoinflammation".
  • Success of the ANR-PIA call (Programme Investments for the Future). Extension of the IHU label until 2024. 


  • ANR Institut Carnot certification


  • From 25 to 31 reference centers for rare diseases on campus at Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital AP-HP affiliated with Imagine