In order to increase the knowledge in sport, maintain athletes’ balance and better understand the health benefits of sport and physical activity, the Ministries of Health and Sports in partnership with the Paris-Descartes University, the Assistance Publique – Hospitaux de Paris (AP-HP), the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and the National Institute of Sports Expertise and Performance (INSEP) have created the Institute of Biomedical and Epidemiological Research in Sport in 2006. Since then IRMES has been headed by Jean-François Toussaint, Professor of Physiology  at Paris-Descartes University  and Head of CIMS (Center for Investigation in Medicine and Sports, Hôtel-Dieu).

The IRMES missions :

  • Establish a national database of elite sport, in association with the technical facilities of health institutions and medical units in charge of high level athletes
  • Coordinate a regional and national network, in association with medical societies such as the French Society of Medicine in Exercise and Sport (SFMES)
  • Encourage, develop and conduct epidemiological and pathophysiological research in the field of high performance sport
  • Host students training from medical, scientific or sports courses and contribute to information of technical executives and sport physicians
  • Increase knowledge on the effects of sport and physical activity on health

Scientific Project

In sport epidemiology, most of the work realized by IRMES has been performed on quantifiable performances, officially registered during major international competitions. The data now constitutes a basis of more than 300 000 performances (World Records ; 10 best annual…) in single or collective sport. This allows us to model future trends from observed evolution in 221 Olympic and international sporting events such as Track and Field, Swimming, Weightlifting, Cycling – Track, Speed Skating, Triathlon, Marathon, Road Cycling, Rowing, Skiing and Sailing etc.

The results show that 64% of the track and field events stagnate, while 100% of swimming events have increased until 2009. The major technological effects of swimsuits from 2000 to 2010 have been measured.

In addition, physiological parameters change during life. Dan H. Moore * has shown that the evolution of sports performance follows a bi-exponential curve with age. This model describes very precisely the development of sporting careers (individual behavior) and the maxima for each life year, allowing for the definition of species profile (through World Records according to age) for more than 2,000 elite athletes as well as the 100 first grand-masters in chess. The physical and intellectual capacities indeed follow the same pattern: performance grows exponentially until its peak before declining exponentially until death. Our objective is to study this process of growth / decline and test the different levels: species, individual, organ and cell according to an auto-similar law described as “invariant of scale”.

The temporal development of human capacities has recently shown a large incrementation phase, termed “phenotypic expansion”. In 10 generations, man has improved  his speed on all race distances, maximum heights and lengths. Other physiological parameters such as longevity and mobility have followed a similar development.

Using the tools of epidemiology and pathophysiologiy, we develop protocols in humans and animals to better understand the physiological processes of performance and the mechanisms involved in physical activities or sport. We also evaluate their impacts on health or the mechanisms of preventing ageing.

 Technical Facility: Metabolism and exercise in mice and rats

During treadmill exercise and training we propose to measure O2 uptake, CO2 production, respiratory quotient (metabolic indicator of energetic substrate use – Labmaster, TSE Systems GmbH) and animals physical performance (PhenoMaster, TSE Systems GmbH).

Non-invasive “Whole Body Composition” will be analysed using an EchoMRI 900 scanner (Echo Medical systems, Houston, USA). Without anesthesia, it allows to determine lean mass, fat, free body fluid content and total body water of rats or mice, with a body mass from 10 to 900 grams.