Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


HARC Report Summary

Project ID: 316300
Funded under: FP7-REGPOT
Country: Poland

Periodic Report Summary 2 - HARC (Healthy Ageing Research Centre)

Project Context and Objectives:
The major goal of the HARC project proposal was to address the problems of ageing population by developing the regional research potential of the Healthy Ageing Research Centre (HARC) already existing at the Medical University of Lodz ( MUL). Following the analysis of the unmet needs in the region and existing center’s research potential four major areas of research were selected. These areas covered a wide spectrum of issues related to ageing including : novel approaches to improve well-being in the elderly, pathogenesis and prevention of neurodegenerative, respiratory, cardiovascular and kidney diseases of the old age and molecular basis of ageing . HARC was designed as a platform to develop and perform coordinated research in these fields.
Eight research teams, already involved in studies relevant to these research areas on active and healthy ageing were brought together with major goal to enhance the Centre’s scientific excellence, and unlock its innovation potential in order for HARC to become a top-level, distinguished medical research centre in the field of ageing-associated diseases.
Thus, the major goal of HARC project is to upgrade and enhance the research potential of MUL research groups investigating various aspects of healthy ageing as well as to increase participation in international research and develop innovation in the area of age-related diseases.

In order to achieve the overall goal the following specific objectives have been designed:

1) to reinforce and consolidate already existing cooperation between HARC and 15 European partners;
2) to stimulate innovation with properly protected intellectual rights by exchange of know-how and creating new links with industry (SMEs);
3) to develop state- of- the- art research infrastructure in synergy with the structural funds intervention;
4) to attract researchers with international experience to work in the centre;
5) to promote international knowledge exchange through workshops and conferences;
6) to promote HARC and raise the awareness of healthy ageing within the scientific community, industry and the general public;
7) to contribute to the solution of the problems of age-related comorbidities in less privileged region of Central Poland by exchanging knowledge with international experts and cooperating with regional authorities
8) to increase the participation of the HARC researchers in the EU FP7, Horizon 2020 and other activities (Joint Programming, Innovation Partnership on Healthy Ageing, ERA-Net).

The projects activities aimed at reaching these strategic objectives have been divided into work packages with clear goals and timelines for accomplishment. During 36 months of the project duration all strategic objectives have been met to large extend and the general goal of the project, i.e. to upgrade and enhance the research potential of Heathy Ageing Research center at the MUL, have been achieved.

Project Results:
The research potential of the HARC was significantly enhanced over the 19-36 month of the project duration in upgrading and enhancing the research potential of MUL research groups has been summarized below.
- Twinning program with international partners was continued. 11 scientists form the MUL visited foreign centers and 3 partners visited our centre.
- During the project the scientific output of the HARC consortium is reflected by more than 100 research publications and almost 30 abstract presentations at international meeting and conferences. HARC researchers were involved in 12 applications for international grants.
- To replace leaving personnel and in order to further enhance research expertise of HARC team additional 2 scientists and 7 technicians were recruited. Newly recruited researchers and technicians, have been directly involved in particular research projects.
- The new equipment purchased (1-18M) have been incorporated to existing laboratories and involved in ongoing research projects. Research equipment was made available to all partners and other researcher at the MUL via the Virtual Laboratory.
- The HARC Biobank established during the first reporting period was run according to best international standards, as a tool for optimization and coordination of access to various biological material samples collected within the Consortium. Thanks to the additional funds (approx. 350,000 Euro) granted by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education the complementary equipment for the Biobank was bought. The Biobank was a part of application for structural funds of MUL for digitalization of resources. Current storage capacity of the HARC biobank exceeds 150 000 samples. The number of biological samples stored is steadily increasing and currently more than 10 000 samples are stored.
- Following the Strategy for Innovation and Sustainability which was prepared at the beginning of the projects activities aiming at increasing the innovative potential of HARC were continued. The partnership with INNOLIFE EIT HEALTH is being developed. Several meetings with industry enterprises representing Technopark, Lodzkie Region and City of Lodz were organized to present HARC potential for cooperation in various areas. A series of coaching sessions for HARC consortium members with Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer of MUL. In order to investigate the factors affecting (facilitating/inhibiting) cooperation of academia with the industry partners a survey addressed to scientists and companies was prepared together with the experts on research – industry cooperation.
- Two HARC international conferences (congresses) were organized within the framework of “Translational Conferences on Research in Heathy Ageing”. In each of this two congresses more than 30 internationally recognized speakers and approx. 300 scientists, physicians and students from 12 countries participated. Over 100 original research communications were presented at poster sessions addressing various aspects of disorders of old age. Furthermore four international workshops dedicated to specific research areas of the HARC were organized (in 19M-36M) with approx. 70 international speakers and the attendance exceeding 400 participants and two conferences for GPs were organized.
- HARC activity has also been presented and promoted on the HARC website (over 100 000 hits since the beginning of 2015), in the Newsletter as well as in other publications, which have been sent over to scientists and centres dealing with the problem of healthy aging.
- The initiatives were taken at the regional level to promote and implement the concept of healthy and active ageing within the local community. The Healthy Ageing Academy was organized for the elderly population in the region. HARC scientists presented the most important issues related to active and healthy ageing in the local media and via regular press release. Close collaboration with local authorities was established as well.

Potential Impact:
The final result of the project will be to achieve the major goals i.e. upgrading and enhancing the research potential of MUL research groups working together within HARC which are investigating various aspects of ageing. As a result an increased participation of HARC in international cooperation on ageing research will be expected.

The research potential of the HARC will be significantly enhanced through international collaboration (twinning with international partners), recruitment of new and highly qualified personnel (scientists and technicians) and upgrading research equipment. The new expertise brought by recruited international researchers should increase quality of our research. In order to facilitate the access to the equipment and existing laboratory expertise for all project partners an internet platform was created - Virtual Laboratory. The well-equipped laboratories of the centre are widely opened for researchers from other groups. A biobank has been organized and well equipped, allowing for storage of biological samples for further studies.

We expect that as a result of international collaboration with twinning partners, already existing research projects will be completed and new projects will be developed. A network of scientific cooperation within ERA and beyond have been developed and will result in joined publications and application for research grants. A series of international conferences and workshops were organized at the MUL allowing for presentation of research and education of local scientific community. Dissemination of the research results will be achieved by attendance HARC researchers at local and international meetings. All this activities should lead to integration of the center within the European Research Area (ERA) and to build sustainability of HARC.

Increasing collaboration with industrial partners, notably with SMEs will impacting and facilitating the transfer of experimental, research work to industry. We are creating opportunities that certain discoveries in the field of age-related diseases will become objects of patenting and thus, they will be available for industry to be used as, e.g. targets of future diagnostics or therapies. Cooperation with the Polish Technology Platform for Innovative Medicine and with the BioTechMed Centre has been developed.

The extra expertise brought via international exchange influence quality medical consultation activities and systematic updating of knowledge of local specialists. Further development of HARC and specifically its clinical potential within the area of age related diseases and comorbidities will create in the future new jobs, not only for biologists, but also for physicians interested in research on ageing- related diseases. The centre will allow them to conduct research as well as develop their medical skills. Since the emigration of skilled young professionals has been one of the major problems faced by the Polish economy, modern research medical centre of highest European level should significantly diminish the emigration of young well educated people from this region.
The center has already an impact on the spreading knowledge and well-being of elderly population in the region through collaboration with local (municipal) authorities. Promotional activities conducted by HARC in the region will shape the public awareness to problems of active and healthy ageing. All above listed HARC activities should contribute to regional economic and social development.

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Related information


Marek L. Kowalski, (Head of the Department of Immunology Rheumatology)
Tel.: +48 42 6757309
Fax: +48 42 6757309
Record Number: 189692 / Last updated on: 2016-10-13