What is an FHU?

The increasingly competitive international context, marked by the emergence of new health challenges, justifies a new impetus for translational and clinical research.

The creation of university hospital federations (FHUs) by the 3 partners (AP-HP, Inserm, universities) is designed to strengthen the relations between hospital and university research units in order to boost medical research and improve the quality of care, through faster dissemination of innovations.

The objective of FHUs is to support joint projects between hospitals, universities, research organizations, industry, and others, and to strengthen their collaboration on medical topics that lead to breakthrough innovations. 

As such, these 21 new federations support the integration of care, teaching, and research, and have specific governance. 

The creation of FHUs has 3 main objectives:

  1. Boost university hospital relations in order to foster collaborative projects on a theme of excellence.
  2. Enhance the visibility and identification of priority themes in research, teaching, and care:
    1. Raise the visibility and attractiveness of the themes promoted by the 3 partners (AP-HP, Inserm, universities), with regard to clinicians and researchers as well as academic and industrial partners; 
    2. Promote the continuum between basic research, clinical research, translational research, and care. The aim is to accelerate the transfer of research results so as to benefit of patients; 
    3. Promote excellence in care through early access to innovation; Strengthen cultural continuity between research and clinical activities; 
    4. In the field of training and capacity building: set up specific actions in and through research, and involve the youngest healthcare workers (medical students, interns…). 
  3. Diversify, target, and optimize financing


In 2012 and 2013, AP-HP, universities, and research organisms jointly accredited 16 university hospital departments (DHUs) for 5 years. The council for assessment of research and higher education (HCERES) evaluated this program and the 16 DHUs. The assessment report was very positive and recommended that the experience be repeated. 

DHUs have had a structuring effect on research in hospitals. In this context, and that of a rapidly changing research landscape, in particular in the life and health sciences, a new call for projects open to the previously accredited DHUs and new teams was launched in 2019.

Twenty-one FHUs were accredited for 5 years. The acronym DHU has been replaced by FHU, which better describes the purpose of this call for projects, which is to bring together and federate clinical and research teams.

Geographical scope

For organizational efficiency and resource optimization, an FHU is structured within a geographically defined university hospital perimeter, formed around one or more University Hospital Groups (GHUs). The inter-GHU dimension may be required by the need for a strong dynamic in favor of a few major lines of research. The FHUs could also work with the hospital groups of their territory (GHTs).

Structural scope

The FHUs are composed of entities that share common research, teaching, and care themes. The FHUs are organized primarily around hospital and research teams located at AP-HP hospital sites. The local connections and interactions with research laboratories of the hospital group need to be strengthened.

The FHUs combine one or more university medical departments (DMUs = AP-HP’s hospital facilities) or parts of the DMU and one or more joint research units – UMR (and, if necessary, other laboratories evaluated by HCERES, such as university host teams), around a specific theme, allowing optimal management of resources in order to achieve the research objectives assigned to the FHU. The participation of researchers with different backgrounds (doctors, midwives, nurses) will be encouraged. 

Commitment and accreditation period 

An FHU is accredited for a period of 5 years. The heads of the 3 partners (APHP, INSERM, Universities) grant the accreditation after assessment by an independent international review board. 


An FHU benefits from non-binding governance, whose main role is to lead and monitor the project. The governance of the FHU is based on a management committee composed of: 

  • One or more clinicians representing the DMU or DMUs constituting the FHU; 
  • One or more representatives from academic partners; 
  • One or more researchers of the joint research unit constituting the FHU. 

The Executive Committee appoints, among its members, the FHU coordinator in charge of resource management. The governance procedures are specified in an operating charter.