Our history

The life of an Institute results from the dynamism of the ongoing actions ; it also relies on its culture and on its history. To understand the real nature of the ISCR, its organisation, its approach to modern science, it is necessary to go back a few years ago …

The origins

The official creation of the Faculty of Science of Rennes dates back to 1840. It was then located in the current Rennes City hall, in the right wing, on the first floor, with Faustino Malaguti holding the first Chair of Chemistry. The Faculty moved to the Palais de l’Université (now the Museum of the Fine Arts of Rennes) in 1856 and finally to its new building on place Pasteur, built from 1888 till 1898 by the architects Jean-Baptiste Martenot and Emmanuel Le Ray (Pictures 1 et 2).

Picture 1 - Southwest view of the Faculty of Science Picture 2 - East view of the Faculty of Science, with the Viarmes station Picture 3 - East view of the Faculty of Science after a first enlargement
Picture 1 - Southwest view of the Faculty of Science Picture 2 - East view of the Faculty of Science, with the Viarmes station Picture 3 - East view of the Faculty of Science after a first enlargement

The Faculty of Science expanded at the beginning of the 20th century with a first extension between the main building and the Viarmes tram station, the latter which connected with the Rennes-Liffré-Fougères railway line until 1949 (Picture 3).

The School of Chemical Engineers was created in 1919 on the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce, and was located in the rue Kleber, in front of the Faculty of Science. Following a rapprochement with the Faculty, it became the ICUR (Institute of Chemistry of the University of Rennes) in 1945 supervised by François Salmon-Legagneur who also occupied the chair of Chemistry of the Faculty until 1968.

The School settled down in its new buildings on the quai Dujardin in 1953, after the destruction of the Viarmes station.


The development

Henri Le Moal (1912–2001) is a striking character of post-war period. He defended his thesis in 1952 under the supervision of Salmon-Legagneur. Appointed as a lecturer, he created the laboratory of Structural Physical Chemistry with A. Foucault, R. Carrié and J. Meinnel. Elected as dean in 1958, he was then appointed as Vice-chancellor of the Academy (Regional education authority) of Rennes in 1960. His period at the rectorate marks the history of the universities of Rennes because it was at the origin of the construction projects of the campuses of Beaulieu, Villejean and in the center.

Picture 4 - The laboratories of the School of Chemistry on rue Kleber
Picture 4 - The laboratories of the School of Chemistry on rue Kleber


Thus, in the autumn 1966, all the Rennes chemistry moved to the Campus of Beaulieu in the brand new Building 10 (picture 5). The IUT (University Institute of Technology) and the ENSCR (Chemical Engineering School) opened their doors one year later. In 1986, the ENSCR acquired the status of Public institution with administrative autonomy (EPA), connected with the University of Rennes 1. The INSA (National Institut for Applied Sciences) was created in 1966 on the Campus of Beaulieu, with two teams in chemistry : metallurgy (Debruigne) and solid state chemistry (Le Cerf).

Picture 5 - Campus view with the long 10 building at the front plane
Picture 5 - Campus view with the long building 10 at the foreground

The concern to associate the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) with the research in the universities led to the creation on Rennes of the ERA then the UA (Associated Units) or URA such as:

  • the ERA 389 then UA 704 (Laboratory of Structural Physical Chemistry) gathering organic chemists and physicists of the solid state such as M. Carrié, A. Foucault, J. Meinnel
  • the UA 439 (Laboratory of Electrochemistry) with C. Moinet, A. Tallec, J. Simonet...
  • the ERA 477 then UA 415 (Organometallic Chemistry Laboratory) with R. Dabard (1974-1985) then P. Dixneuf (1986-1999)
  • the UA 254 gathering the solid state chemists (J. Prigent, D. Grandjean, M. Sergeant). It was separated in 1992 in URA 1495 (Laboratory of Cristal Chemistry) with R. Guérin, D. Grandjean, J.-Y. Saillard, D. Louer, and in URA 1496 (Glasses and Ceramics) with J. Lucas.
  • the UA 482 ( Organic Chemistry laboratory) in the ENSCR with R. Grée, …

The transformation of the UA/URAs in CNRS UMRs (Mixed Research Units) shuffles the cards and leads in 1996 to the creation of 5 new UMRs on the Rennes site :

  • the UMR 6509 (Organometallics and Catalysis: Molecular Chemistry and Electrochemistry) managed successively by P. Dixneuf and C. Bruneau
  • the UMR 6510 (Organic Synthesis and Electrosynthesis) managed by M. Vaultier then M. Blanchard-Desce
  • the UMR 6511 (Solid State and Molecular Inorganic Chemistry) managed by D. Grandjean, J.-F. Halet then L. Ouahab
  • the UMR 6512 (Glasses and Ceramics) managed by J. Lucas, then J.-L. Adam.
  • the UMR 6052 (Synthesis and Biomolecular Activation) managed by R. Grée then J.-C. Guillemin, on the ENSCR site.
Picture 6 - View in 2000 of the building 10B, built in the Northwest of the Building 10 Picture 7 - The Building 10C, before the transformation of the garden level Picture 8 - The Building 10C, after the extension of the garden level
Picture 6 - View in 2000 of building 10B, built in the Northwest of building 10A Picture 7 - Building 10C before the transformation of the garden level Picture 8 - Building 10C after the extension of the garden level

This evolution involved also a significant development of the teams and space was lacking in building 10, with Organometallic Chemistry and Electrochemistry already located in building 24 on the North of the campus of Beaulieu. On the initiative of D. Grandjean, building 10B was then built (Picture 6) and delivered in January 1998, hosting part of the UMR 6511 (Solid Chemistry and Inorganic Molecules), part of the UMR 6512 (Glasses and Ceramics) and a research team in Mechanics of Glasses, LARMAUR. The building also offered classrooms, meeting rooms and an amphitheater of 90 places, which was named after D. Grandjean following his death in 2009.

A few years later, on the initiative of P. H. Dixneuf and with the desire to gather chemistry on a single site, building 10C was built (Picture 7) south of building 10B.

It hosted from March 2001, the UMR 6509 (Organometallic and Biological Chemistry) and the UMR 6510 (Organic Synthesis and Electrosynthesis). The garden level of building 10C, initially empty, was completed with two additional laboratories and offices (Picture 8).

The consolidation

In 2000, on the initiative of P. H. Dixneuf, a federative structure ICR (Institute of Chemistry of Rennes) was created associating the University, the ENSCR, the INSA and the CNRS (FR 2108). The ICR was then successively managed by P. H. Dixneuf, A. Perrin, M. Vaultier and J.-Y. Saillard. The ICR then gathered the 5 above mentionned UMRs, the EA 3887 (Laboratory of Chemistry and Process Engineering, ENSCR-UR1) and in 2004, the EA 2620 (Research group in Metallurgy, INSA). At that time there are approximately 230 permanent people among which 160 researchers, associated professors and professors, representing more than 80 % of the chemical research forces in the Brittany region. It fully played its role of coordinating, facilitating and developing the potential of research and training in chemistry in Rennes, thus preparing the emergence of ISCR. Indeed, in November 2004, University of Rennes 1 was informed that it was part of five of higher education institutions chosen to experiment a project of renovated contract with the CNRS for an implementation on January 1st, 2006. By the end of 2004, the various UR1 research structures associated with the CNRS were asked to consider the possibility of regrouping existing laboratories to form larger units. The discussions initiated at the Institut de Chimie de Rennes (ICR) resulted in the decision in February 2005 to work on a project of a single large chemistry unit gathering all the components of the ICR. This project was very favorably welcomed at the beginning of 2005 by the chemists of the Rennes site. The “Sciences Chimiques de Rennes” project was developed collectively during the first half of 2005 on the basis of a federal structure in which teams, smaller in size and scientifically much more homogeneous than the former ones, were given a considerable autonomy, while the structure gave its management the means to carry out a real site policy.

The UMR 6226 “Chemical Sciences of Rennes” was created on January 1st, 2006 on the bases of the ICR, including only part of the UMR 6510. J.-Y. Saillard and J.-L. Adam then managed the UMR as director and deputy director, respectively, as well as for the following four-year contract 2008-2011. The UMR has four legal supervisory entities: UR1, CNRS, ENSCR and INSA Rennes. At this time it gathered 222 permanent employees, among whom 46 CNRS researchers, 114 professors (teaching and research) and 62 engineers and technicians. It was organised into 11 research teams each of them gathering between 10 and 30 permanent people. An important point of the scientific politic of the unit is the strengthening of the structuring activities, both from the point of view of the research and of the other common activities (prevention and safety, continuing education, communication, scientific animation) or of the management of technical platforms.

In 2010, a EA 4090 team associated with the University of Rennes 1 and the Faculty of Pharmacy (Lichenic substances and Photoprotection, J. Boustie) and located on Villejean campus, joined the UMR, increasing to 12 the number of research teams.

In 2012, a new contract, now a five-year contract, was set up under the direction of J.-L. Adam, with M. Fourmigué as Deputy Director, with the transformation of the SCR name into ISCR (Institut des Sciences Chimiques de Rennes). The UMR was then organised into 11 scientific teams and a cluster of Administrative, Technical and Scientific Resources (PRATS).

logo of institute of chemistry de rennes logo of iscr 2006 logo of iscr 2009 logo of iscr 2012
The ICR logo in 2000 The 1st logo SCR in 2006 The 2nd logo SCR in 2009 ISCR logo since 2012

The unit then integrated the CPM team (Chemistry and Molecular Photonics, ex UMR 6510), completing the regrouping of all the academic forces in chemistry on the Rennes site.

The contract 2017-2021 was set up on January 1st, 2017, with Marc Fourmigué (DR CNRS) as director, Maryline Guilloux-Viry (Professor) as deputy director and Yvelise Raskin at the head of the Administration.

The new contract was set up at the beginning of 2022 (2022-2027), with Marc Fourmigué (DR CNRS) as director, Sophie Guillaume (CNRS research director) as deputy director and Louise-Anne Cariou (IR CNRS) at the head of the Administration. The UMR counts from now on 8 research teams and more than 290 permanent employees.

Marc Fourmigué
Rennes, Janvier 2022


  • B. Gallon, D. Bernard. Histoire de la Chimie à la Faculté des Sciences de Rennes de 1840 à 1966
  • https://www.ensc-rennes.fr/lenscr/h... au 15/12/2016
  • J.-Y. Saillard. 2007. Dossier de demande de reconnaissance d’une unité de recherche auprès du ministère et du CNRS pour 2008-2011.

Thanks to André Perrin, Christiane Perrin, Jean-Yves Saillard, Claude Hervieu