Today’s foundation stone ceremony marks the official start of construction works of the BIOCEV centre (7.10.2013)

Attended by Czech Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok, the BIOCEV centre’s foundation stone ceremony was held today to mark the official start of construction works on the new scientific centre in Vestec. Nearly 25,500 m2 of new laboratories and other working space will accommodate 600 employees, of which 450 will be scientists, including nearly two hundred students of graduate and postgraduate programmes from the 1st Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Science at Charles University. This October, BIOCEV will also celebrate its first anniversary since the launch of its first research programme entitled Functional Genomics; the remaining research programmes were gradually launched over the summer.

Vestec, 7 October 2013 – “Placing emphasis on education, science and research is vital to our region’s competitiveness, sustainable development and growth. I personally see a strong, untapped potential in the area of public-private partnerships. There are many opportunities yet to be tapped.The BIOCEV centre is one of the major projects that capitalizes on these opportunities,” said Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok at the beginning of the ceremony.

About the ceremony, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Dalibor Štys said, “This is the last, and also the fourth most expensive, major infrastructure construction project to be launched under the Research and Development for Innovation Programme. Some of the infrastructure has already begun operating in new buildings and with state-of-the-art equipment. This has put the Czech Republic ahead of other European Union countries, including many of the older Member States. Now we need to make sure the infrastructure is used to achieve research excellence and educate top-class students. I am confident that BIOCEV, a joint initiative of Charles University and institutes from the Academy of Sciences, will meet that challenge. It is better poised to do so than most other infrastructure.”

The BIOCEV project is being jointly implemented by 7 partner institutions, including six research institutes of the Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Prague represented by the 1stFaculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Science. “We are very pleased to be founding such a prestigious and important project. BIOCEV will no doubt greatly benefit Czech science as a whole and become the most significant project in the Czech Republic. The centre will be of great use to us within our graduate and postgraduate degree programmes. In addition, we expect that the BIOCEV centre will allow us to now focus on experimental biotechnology and biomedicine,” said Václav Hampl, Rector of Charles University in Prague.

“It is the collaboration between the Academy of Sciences and Charles University, two major players in the Czech Republic’s science and research sector, which guarantees the successful construction of the BIOCEV centre. Also, the envisaged significant involvement of research students shows the linkage between teaching and research, which is a prerequisite for a quality education system,”pointed out Vladimír Mareček, Vice-President of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic at the ceremony.

This October, BIOCEV will celebrate the launch of the first research programme entitled Functional Genomics. Although the new Vestec-based centre is still under construction, scientists have been allowed to start research – on an interim basis – at their parent institutions. The research within the Functional Genomics programme has attracted a number of foreign scientists to Prague, for example, people from Canada, Australia, Belgium, Germany, India, Bulgaria and Slovakia. During the first year of research, the Functional Genomics programme and the subsequent Czech Centre for Phenogenomics (CCP) national research infrastructure managed – among other things – to secure a CZK 10 million European grant. The funds received are being used in part to secure free access to technologies that are offered by the CCP (e.g. the development of transgenic models of diseases or the archiving of mouse strains) and in part to research the causes of diseases such as metabolic syndrome, congenital hearing loss and cardiovascular dysfunction, including the possibility of designing regenerative gene therapy.

Other BIOCEV research programmes were launched over the summer. These include four research programmes: Cellular Biology and Virology, Structural Biology and Protein Engineering, Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and Development of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures. There are currently 280 employees working within all of the research programmes. It is the synergies between the five research programmes that form the basis of the BIOCEV scientific programme. The joint research projects will lead to the discovery of the causes of diseases such as liver disorders and various types of cancer, neurological and immune diseases and personalized and individualized treatment, which is the future of modern medicine. Bringing together biomaterials research and stem cell research will result in the design of replacement tissues such as heart valves and vascular grafts that will be more acceptable to organisms and thus greatly reduce any adverse effects of treatment administered after a transplant.

At the new research centre in Vestec, scientists will also have access to state-of-the-art and high-performance equipment that will be grouped together in individual service laboratories or core facilities. In the future, these laboratories will become important national centres of scientific cooperation. One of BIOCEV’s emerging core facilities, the Centre of Imaging Methods, is part of a successful application for a potential Euro-BioImaging Node within the Euro-BioImaging consortium. The Euro-BioImaging network of imaging facilities will provide scientists across Europe with open access to a wide range of innovative imaging technologies that are used for research into new diagnostics and for research on the treatment of serious diseases.

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