The Construction Phase of the BIOCEV Project Has Been Completed – the BIOCEV Center Is Opening (18.12.2015)

Vestec, 18 December 2015 – In the presence of Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Stanislav Štech, Rector of Charles University Tomáš Zima, Vice-President of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Vladimír Mareček, and other important guests, the implementation phase of the BIOCEV project – the Biotechnology and Biomedicine Center of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and Charles University in Vestec ended today. Full operation is planned beginning January 2016. BIOCEV is currently made up of the implementation of five research programmes and the operation of six sets of research infrastructure and service laboratories. By 2020, as many as 450 researchers, including 200 post-graduate students, are supposed to work at the BIOCEV Center. The Center’s objective is to learn details about organisms at the molecular level that will be used in applied research and in the development of new therapeutic procedures.

“BIOCEV is ready to play the role of a world-class scientific research centre and it has all it takes to succeed in that role. Endowed with superb instruments and equipment, it is going to bring together enthusiastic teams of well-trained scientists from six institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences and two faculties of Charles University, all working together under one roof,” says Pavel Martásek, Director of BIOCEV. “Today, significant discoveries are often made at the boundaries of traditional scientific disciplines. Current biomedicine and biotechnology are becoming increasingly interdisciplinary – in an effort to not only understand the molecular basis of diseases, but also to diagnose the disease process as early as possible. All that is reflected in designing new treatments and developing new drugs. BIOCEV’s five main scientific programmes have been designed to be significantly interdisciplinary and as complementary as possible. I believe that mutual direct communication between the various scientists within BIOCEV will bring significant added value,”adds Pavel Martásek.

“Such a centre could not have been built without sufficient funding. The project was supported from the Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovation with a sum exceeding CZK 2 billion and I am convinced that this investment will pay off both for the Czech Republic and the European Union,” says Stanislav Štech, Deputy Minister of Education. “I believe that the implementation team will successfully complete this project and I am happy to see that it has been delivering partial results to the science and research communities. I would like to wish all researchers creativity and success in their research work and I hope that the implementation team meets the monitoring indicators and reaches sustainability without any problems so that we all can enjoy BIOCEV’s results that will help us to further advance scientific knowledge and face future (not only scientific and research) challenges.”

“It has been more than two years since the foundation stone of the Biotechnology and Biomedicine Center, Biocev, was laid. It was a journey that, similarly to other major projects, was not without obstacles, but has lead us to a research centre that will significantly contribute to a higher quality of science and research in the Czech Republic. Its research scope makes BIOCEV truly unique,” says Tomáš Zíma, Rector of Charles University. “The fields of research and development, technology development and innovation are the keys to ensuring long-term competitiveness in the Czech Republic. I am happy that it was possible to develop this major research centre. I, along with all of us, hope that BIOCEV becomes a leading international biomedicine centre,” adds Tomáš Zima.

“The result is the Biocev Center in Vestec u Prahy where two leading Czech institutions, the Academy of Sciences and Charles University, are able to combine their research and human potential. The purpose of the centre’s research programme is to perform in-depth investigations of cell mechanisms at the molecular level and to develop medical procedures, including timely diagnostics, biologically active agents including chemotherapeutics, protein engineering and advanced technologies. The latest technologies available in central laboratories will be made accessible to business and research teams from other institutions. I consider it equally important that the centre’s specialised programmes will help to prepare a new generation of researchers and technology specialists,” says Vladimír Mareček, Vice-President of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

On the occasion of the opening ceremony, Václav Hořejší, Director of the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences (the beneficiary of the BIOCEV project subsidy) stated: “I am very pleased that we have successfully handled all problems associated with the implementation of such a complicated project. It was primarily thanks to the excellent collaboration between all involved partners and the professional attitude of the implementation team members. We are entering another phase that will show that the funds used to develop this large biomedicine research centre were a good investment. I am looking forward to when researchers working in the new centre publish their discoveries in international journals, especially because many of these discoveries will eventually result in valuable practical uses.”

Together with the first Functional Genomics research programme, its head Radislav Sedláček is also working on the development of an important national infrastructure, the Czech Centre for Phenogenomics (CCP). The centre is one of BIOCEV’s research infrastructures and also the largest institution of its kind in Europe. CCP, which is already fully functional, will also work as a transgenic laboratory producing specialised, genetically modified mice that are used as tools for the research of gene functions by both the Czech and international scientific communities. Together with foreign co-workers, Radislav Sedláček and his team are working in the international programme entitled the Encyclopaedia of Mammalian Gene Functions, focused on the primary description of functions of all genes over the next ten years. The results of their research may positively affect the treatment of serious illnesses.

“Cancer, cardiovascular diseases, viral and infectious diseases – all of these are among current problems of today’s population. In the past, we were only able to describe these problems without being able to find their cause. Today, we can understand the cause of a disease, right down to the molecular level. Thanks to that, we are able to design a solution which, in the final phase, may lead to the development of effective medication or the discovery of a new therapeutic method, thereby saving many lives,” explains Director Pavel Martásek about the mission of the BIOCEV Center.

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