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Emilie Hénin, Researcher

Chairs of excellence

Emilie Hénin is a young engineer specialized in the mathematical modelling of patient drug response. Her highly promising research focusing on the optimisation of anti-cancer treatments, has been supported by the Synergie Lyon Cancer Foundation, since 2011.

Pharmacological modelling is part of pharmacometrics, an under-researched scientific subject area in the field of research engineering. “The development of statistical models based on the transposition of observed pharmacological phenomena or phenomena reported in the literature into equations, may help to predict what might occur in a different system”, explains Emilie Hénin. “For example, it allows us to simulate the distribution of a molecule, in a patient or in a group of patients, according to certain morphological or physiological characteristics – weight, age, concomitant drugs… - and to infer optimal drug dosage”. The outcome: drug design procedures can be accelerated and experimental costs of clinical trials can be reduced. “Of course, such extrapolations cannot replace proper clinical experience or the specific expertise of clinicians”, the engineer points out.


Statistical modelling, a tool assisting in and contributing to the development of drugs


As part of the “Therapeutic Targeting in Oncology” (“Ciblage Thérapeutique en Oncologie”) unit of Lyon Sud, Emilie Hénin focuses on the optimisation of an an-cancer therapy combining the sorafenib and everolimus drugs. She is currently developing a mathematical model to determine the optimal dosage at which these two molecules work in synergy, so as to establish a drug administration schedule, which will be confirmed after a clinical trial. The aim: to optimise the efficacy of the treatment on the growth of the tumour, whilst limiting its toxicity. Following on from an extensive study on the quantification of the drugs, Emilie Hénin will entrust the testing of the response of cancer cells exposed to different concentrations of these molecules to a reputed team specialized in experimenting on cell cultures, belonging to the Cancer Research Centre of Lyon (“Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Lyon” or CRCL). In addition to her research activities, Emilie Hénin also collaborates with the clinical service of medical oncology  at the Lyon Sud Hospital, in order to establish and monitor clinical studies, and perform analyses on the results obtained.


Emilie Hénin has an engineering diploma in “Biosciences, Bioinformatics and Modelling” and also holds a Masters by Research in “Mathematics and Computing applied to Life Sciences”.  Following on from a PhD investigating the effects of non-compliance to an anti-cancer treatment on its efficacy and toxicity, she conducted a post-doc in Uppsala, Sweden, in the university’s pharmacometrics research department: “In the long-term, I saw myself working in the industry and did not believe I would return to France”, she remembers. “Synergie Lyon Cancer enabled me to return to an academic-based research within and in association with a hospital environment”. Here, the essence of the young scientist’s research subject area can flourish: “Statistical modelling offers a variety of possible applications and direct clinical benefits. I analyse data, but the patient is present, just next doors. This close proximity with the patient has been a particular personal motivation for the last 10 years”.