The Laboratory

Message from the direction

The CERMAV, a CNRS research unit, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. During this half-century, four directors succeeded to develop specific research themes. The historical thematic focused on economically important plant polysaccharides (cellulose and starch) now cover different areas of modern glycosciences, either towards the synthesis or biosynthesis of biologically active oligosaccharides, the uses of biomass, nanocomposite materials or glycopolymers.

CERMAV is a leading research center in glycosciences in Europe, and the activities of the five research teams, in the different aspects of glycosciences, answer to major societal challenges in the fields of human health, emerging energies, and materials for new technologies. In addition, the unit provides an important contribution to the research training to prepare students and young researchers to the professional world, industry, and academia.

Since January 2016, a new direction team is managing the Unit, with a strong partnership with the new University Grenoble Alpes. The CERMAV partnership in the Molecular Chemistry Institute of Grenoble, its involvement in projects of Carnot, Labex PolyNat Arcane, and the GlycoAlps initiatives fall within the priorities defined with the Institut National de Chimie of CNRS. These actions are further amplified throughout strong collaborations with the international Neutron (ILL° and Synchrotron (ESRF) large-scale infrastructures. The new managing team is implementing some new internal actions, in order to foster synergistic actions around transverse lines of research on the (i) design of functional and smart materials, (ii) the glycobiotechnology, (iii) the structure and architecture of the cell walls. The implementation of a global digital interface (eCERMAV) meets the need of optimizing internal organization and anticipate the growing contribution of big data in scientific research.

Head: Dr. Anne Imberty
Deputy Directors:  Dr. Laurent Heux


As CNRS laboratory (UPR 5301), the Cermav is a place of constant interaction with different actors: higher education, other organizations, business sector, and foreign partners ... it participates in missions defined by the CNRS :

  •      development and production of knowledge in all disciplines
  •      exploiting the results of research
  •      training and research
  •      dissemination of scientific and technical information


Located on the campus of Grenoble, the expertise of CERMAV is amplified by an exceptional scientific environment: on the one hand, l'Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA) and the Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble (INPG) in the East-Campus and, on the other hand, the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA) and the large European facilities - the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF)- in the West Campus.

The Cermav is involved the Grenoble scientific community by sharing human and financial contributions in the areas of analytical techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, information technology, etc. Access more significant to large instrumentation (ILL, ESRF) is also part of the essential tools that we put into play to develop our scientific programs.

At the international level, the Cermav maintains relationships with about forty foreign laboratories and institutes and there are as many collaborations with developing countries as with industrialized countries. For many years his skills and expertise enable the formation of foreign researchers and collaborations, that have led to many joint publications and the organization of scientific events too.



In 1957, Professor Marcel Chêne, 'directeur des études' at the École française de papeterie (EFP), proposed the creation in Grenoble of an Institute of cellulose and lignin, taking up the idea, launched in 1922 by the director of the electrotechnics institute and EFP, Professor Louis Barbillon, to establish a Cellulose Institute to complement the activities of the EFP and launch applied research in collaboration with the paper activities. In June 1960, a report about the acquisition of a site on the campus intended for the implantation of the institute, was sent to Professor Georges Champetier (Director of the School of Physics and Industrial Chemistry, member of the Institute, and Director General of the CNRS), who was at that time one of the only French academics to have carried out work on cellulose. The construction of the initial building was completed in 1966. In the same year, the CNRS changed the name of the institute as Centre de recherches sur les macromolécules végétales, whose work should focus on "the study of cellulose, lignin and other plant constituents" and so attributes its acronym to the Cermav.

More about the Cermav:

1966-2006 : 40 ans de recherches
Cermav, 2006, 57 p.

1966-2016 : Faits marquants
Cermav, 2016, 39 p.