The Czech Centre for Phenogenomics
Delegation of the members of the EU Council Working Group on Research visited BIOCEV
On July 21, 2022, a delegation of representatives of the Council of the EU and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports visited the BIOCEV, a joint centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Vestec near Prague. The goal was to present large research infrastructures and their potential for collaboration in solving global challenges.
Research infrastructure is a unique facility necessary for complex research with high financial and technological demands. It provides research services to the scientific community in the form of open access. Scientists thus have the opportunity to use state-of-the-art equipment and expertise that they do not have available at their own institutes.
The large research infrastructures located at BIOCEV, namely the Czech Centre for Phenogenomics (CCP), Czech-BioImaging and the Czech Infrastructure for Integrative Structural Biology (CIISB), are fully integrated into the pan-European infrastructures Infrafrontier, Euro-BioImaging and INSTRUCT.
"One of the main priorities of the Czech Presidency in the field of research and innovation is the strengthening of cooperation between regional, national and European research infrastructures for solving social, environmental and economic challenges. Our priority should not only be to ensure the sustainability of infrastructures in these difficult times, but to create and maintain a European research community at the forefront of global research," says Radislav Sedláček, director of CCP, current member and former chairman of the Strategic Working Group on Health and Food of the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).
Large research infrastructure at BIOCEV
"The BIOCEV Centre was established with significant support from the EU. I am very happy that today we can present to important representatives of the member states and the Council of the EU the successful involvement of our laboratories in research infrastructures, which increases the level of their expertise, efficiency and also strengthens their significance and importance within the international research area," says Professor Pavel Martásek, scientist director of the BIOCEV centre.
The CCP at the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in the BIOCEV centre is a large research infrastructure that, within a global consortium, leads efforts to describe the functions of all mammalian genes. This is the basis for understanding the origin of human diseases, their treatment, and now also for so-called precision medicine in the form of gene therapy.
This global goal is achieved through a unique combination of genetic engineering and standardized complex characterization of disease models (phenotyping) at the level of the whole organism. Its significant achievements include the creation of unique mouse models used for the development of drugs and therapeutics against covid-19, oncological diseases and rare diseases.
CCP also responded to the pandemic situation and built a new unique BSL3 laboratory for the analysis of infections in the organism, which will be the most modern in the Czech Republic. Since January 2022, CCP is the coordinator of the research program "Gene and precision therapy - a new hope in the treatment of human diseases" of the Strategy AV21.
CIISB is a research infrastructure of shared laboratories operated within BIOCEV and CEITEC in Brno. CIISB offers expertise and access to technologies used in the field of integrative methods of structural analysis of biologically important cellular components and macromolecules at various levels of resolution, from atomic to cellular.
"CIISB's success lies in fulfilling the main challenge of the field of structural biology - concentrating demanding technologies and experts in individual techniques, providing comprehensive services to researchers, and all this within a sustainable framework in the Czech and European research area," emphasizes Jan Dohnálek, head of the Center for Molecular Structure and representative of CIISB and Instruct-ERIC at the BIOCEV Centre.
The national research infrastructure for biological and medical imaging Czech-BioImaging is represented in the BIOCEV centre by the service laboratory of imaging methods (IMCF) of the Faculty of Science of the Charles University. IMCF provides comprehensive services in the field of light and electron microscopy, from experiment design to sample preparation, scanning on state-of-the-art equipment, to data analysis of image data.
"Sharing expertise and practical experience with the best microscopy laboratories within the European Euro-BioImaging infrastructure allows us to offer not only Czech scientists the latest imaging technologies and thus contribute significantly to the competitiveness of Czech science," mentions the benefit of involvement in European infrastructures Aleš Benda, head of the IMCF and representative of the Euro-BioImaging Prague node. "Thanks to the rapid technological development, innovative imaging technologies make it possible to observe hitherto hidden life processes in cells, tissues and whole organisms. Imaging has thus become one of the main driving forces of research in biological and medical fields," adds Aleš Benda.
The BIOCEV Center is a joint research facility of six institutes of the Academy of Sciences and two faculties of Charles University in Vestec near Prague. The goal of more than 500 scientists and students from all over the world is a detailed knowledge of organisms at the molecular level. Their findings are directed towards the research and development of new drugs and treatment methods against serious health problems such as cancer, diabetes, infertility or viral diseases.