Why a Glycophysics network ?

The lack of carbohydrate oriented analytical tools is identified as a bottleneck hindering the full development of glycosciences. Recent innovations in molecular physics already have the potential to offer promising solutions. However, physical tools often take decades to spread in other disciplines. The case of DNA is striking: it was first isolated in 1869 and X-rays were discovered in 1895, but it took an other 50 years to measure XRay diffraction of DNA.

The glycophysics network was created to establish strong connections between molecular physics and glycosciences. The goal is to identify the needs and opportunities in both communities, to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and to expedite the integration of novel physical tools into glycosciences.
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Founding Partners

A powerful synergy

Glycociences deal with the structure and function of carbohydrates. In rapid expansion, their expected impact is comparable to this of nucleic acids and protein science.

A powerful synergy

High potential technological applications







Renewable biomass, alternative to fossil ressources, novel materials with low carbon footprint, green chemistry ...







Biomarkers, vaccines, therapeutics, personalized medicine, prebiotic carbohydrates, low calorie natural sweetners ...

Molecular Physics can provide new tools to help deciphering carbohydrate structure. The emergence of a new discipline - glycophysics - is timely. The goal ? To establish interdisciplinary bridges at the interface of physics and glycosciences


Isabelle Compagnon

I’m a molecular physicist specialized in the development of novel instrumentation based on the coupling of Mass Spectrometry with optical spectroscopy for the structural characterization of biomolecules. With a background in molecular spectroscopy, my research was always motivated by fundamental reflections on light-matter interactions. When I became aware that structural characterization is identified as a critical bottleneck in Glycosciences, I have actively re-focused my research on the development of new carbohydrate-oriented structural tools. It is now timely to further stimulate the transfer of blue sky research in Physics to applications in Glycosciences. In this context, establishing transdisciplinary bridges is essential to facilitate the integration of state-of-the-art tools and concepts of molecular Physics into Glycosciences. This is why I have initiated the Glycophysics Network, which I envisioned as the missing link between the two communities.

Isabelle Compagnon
Coordinator of the Glycophysics Network - Institut Lumière Matière (CNRS), Associate Professor
Université Lyon 1
Serge Pérez

Cross fertilization of traditional disciplines is often source of innovation and scientific breakthrough. Glycoscience has benefited from the converging contributions of  Chemistry  and Biology but surprisingly, the direct input from Physics is lagging behind. The creation of the glycophysics network is filling this gap. It provides the necessary instrument to foster collaborations between physicists and glycoscientists. It is expected that novel experimental methods contribute to the enlargement of transformative tools for the detection and high resolution structure determination of complex carbohydrate structures. In return, the paramount complexity of carbohydrates will stimulate conceptual and instrumental developments, including the use of large scale facilities (synchrotrons, neutrons, free electron lasers…). Finally, the Glycophysics Network may provide a forum where scientists involved in studying soft condensed matter and biophysics discover a fascinating new playground.

Serge Pérez
Director of research Emeritus dpt. Pharmacochemistry CNRS
University Grenoble-Alpes