IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Research organisation

IRSN's research units

The research conducted at IRSN is “mission oriented” and, by its very nature, multidisciplinary. Its purpose is not only, like all research, to acquire new scientific knowledge but also to diversify or improve the technical applications needed to manage risks and contribute to the development of the Institute’s wealth of expertise.


Consequently, research projects are defined, from the outset, as a function of the Institute’s current or future needs to maintain its expertise; these requirements are themselves identified as such through field studies, the result of non-resolved recurring questions, or because it is reasonable to think that the development of nuclear or radiological techniques, combined with more demanding safety requirements, will necessarily lead to new questions being raised.


Conducted over more or less lengthy periods, these research programmes tie in with IRSN’s long and medium term plan (PMLT) for major research programmes. 

IRSN’s research organisation is split into three Directions.



This unit, headed by François Besnus and made up of 10 research laboratories and sections, has the following research interests: 

  • Radioelements transfers within the environment
  • Ionizing radiations effects on ecosystems
  • Seismic uncertainties
  • Deep nuclear waste disposal
  • Transfers within nuclear waste disposal facilities


 List of laboratories and sections


Human health

This unit, headed by Jean-Michel Bonnet and made up of 9 research laboratories and 1 research section and 1 research support group, works in the following areas:

  • Biological indicators and dosimetry
  • Ionizing radiations pathologies and therapies
  • Ionizing radiations epidemiology
  • Experimental radiotoxicology 

 List of laboratories, section and support group 



Nuclear safety

This unit, headed by Patrice Giordano and made up 15 research laboratories and sections and 1 research support group, carries out research in the following fields:

  • Nuclear fuel mechanics and thermohydraulics
  • Nuclear reactor core meltdown accidents
  • Fires in confined environments 
  • Metrology and confinement
  • Neutronics and criticality 


 List of laboratories, sections and support group 

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