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ITRIBIS Report Summary

Project ID: 316151
Funded under: FP7-REGPOT
Country: Spain

Periodic Report Summary 2 - ITRIBIS (Improving Translational Research Potential at the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville)

Project Context and Objectives:
The overall objective of ITRIBIS Project is improving research tools and capacities at the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville (IBiS) and distinguishing the IBiS as a center of reference in biomedical translational research applied to the most prevalent diseases among Europeans, and on antimicrobial resistance. It also aims to boosting the transfer of results to the clinical setting and to the local biotechnological companies, thereby resulting in the production of tangible benefits for the Andalusian region. The ITRIBIS is focused in a major translational research line, cell degeneration (brain, heart, cancer), accompanied by another, more specific, focusing on antimicrobial resistance. These research lines comprise the four main areas in which IBiS is currently organized.

To reach this goal ITRIBIS established the following specific objectives:

1. To provide the main lines of investigation (cell degeneration and antimicrobial resistance) with a highly qualified staffing, capable of carrying out highly competitive research at international level, while maintaining a balance between clinical and basic research. Furthermore, achieving a highly trained support staff, specialized in the high standing core facilities of the center.

2. To complete the core facilities of the IBIS, in order to increase competitiveness in the established lines.

3. To gain know-how and experience through the twinning with reference institutions at European scale, with visits of experts in the field of Biomedicine to IBiS; and improve the expertise of young researchers and technicians giving them skills in cutting-edge technologies through training visits to our EU partners.

4. To strengthen the applicability of the achieved results through knowledge transfer to the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries, contributing to regional development.

5. To increase the visibility of the IBiS at European scale.

ITRIBIS is improving IBiS research quality and potential through several specific actions:
1. Recruitment of senior scientists and technicians. The initial objective was hiring personnel with the following professional profiles: scientists working on neurosciences, cardiovascular research, bioinformatics and antimicrobial resistance, respectively.

2. Reinforcement of the IBiS Core Facilities through the acquisition of research equipment and the recruitment of technicians that develop the areas of Bioinformatics, Imaging and Proteomics. These measures will complement and potentiate the existing facilities of the center. A data storage system was aquired and also some minor laboratory equipment.

3. Exchange of know-how and experience with several partner institutions distributed in Europe (Karolinska Institute, Munich Technical University, University of Wurzburg, European Molecular Biology Laboratory and its subsidiary European Bioinformatics Institute, Institute of Cancer Research, University of Oxford, King's College London, LabEX LERMIT University Paris Sud, University of Fribourg, Technical University of Denmark, Institute of Cancer Research of Montpellier, University College London, University of Rouen, Southampton University, University of Pavia and University of Utah). The partnership includes two-way transnational visits and scientific training.

4. Elaboration of an Intellectual Property plan to potentiate current efforts to improve innovation and the effective transfer of scientific knowledge. Recruitment of a Technology Transfer technician.

5. Dissemination activities have been done in order to maximize IBiS and ITRIBIS project visibility. Measures to ensure proper scientific and technical management and follow up of the project have been implemented.

Project Results:
During the second half of the Project and the 4-months extension, ITRIBIS staff has been formed by 13 employees with scientific, technical and management profiles:

• Project Manager: María Herreras
• Infectious diseases researcher: Jesús Blázquez
• Clinical cardiovascular researcher: José Ángel Urbano
• Basic cardiovascular researcher: Alejandro Domínguez
• Bioinformatics researcher: Ana Rojas
• Bioinformatics technician: Eduardo Andrés / Juan Antonio Cordero
• Genomics technician: Victoria Eugenia Bonilla
• Genomics/Proteomics technician: Francisco Jesús Morón
• Clinical neurosciences researcher: Joan Montaner
• Basic neurosciences researcher: Fernando Mancha
• Proteomics technician: Mª Dolores Pastor
• Technology transfer manager: José María Toro
• Microscopy technician: Eva Sánchez de Rojas

Secondly, purchase of last generation technological equipments was carried out:

• High resolution mass spectrometry system : Thermo Fisher Scientific, SL
• MRI equipment for imaging in animal models: Bruker Spanish, SA
• HPC bioinformatic system: Sistemas Informáticos Europeos, SL
• IT infrastructure and data storage service: Bull Spain, SA

EC approved the acquisition of some minor laboratory equipment for the Large Appliances Service, which has equipment of common use for techniques covering molecular and cell biology and it provides researchers with the necessary instrumentation and technical support required to carry out the different techniques. To complement the services currently provided by this unit, the following equipment was bought: a cryostat, an orbital shaker, an ImageQuant for Western-blot experiments, an electroporator, an Updating of the NT Cycler to QuantStudio12K Open Array; and a thermocycler.

Furthermore, ITRIBIS brought the opportunity to young researchers to realize stays and short term secondments in prestigious scientific institutions around Europe. During the project, the following institutions have been colaborating:

• LABEX LERMIT University Paris-Sud
• Karolinska Institute
• European Bioinformatics Institute
• Institute of Cancer Research
• Oxford University
• Technical University Munich
• University of Würzburg
• European Molecular Biology Laboratory
• King's College London
• University of Fribourg
• Technical University of Denmark
• Institute of Cancer Research of Montpellier
• University College London
• University of Rouen
• Southampton University
• University of Pavia
• University of Utah

Worldwide renowned scientists regularly visit IBiS for seminars. The center celebrated the second Industrial Open Day in October 2015 focused on biomedicine companies and hosted the Technology Transfer Workshop in June 2016, to maximize the impact of collaborations between IBiS researchers and industry. The Institute also organized international high-impact events, such as the visits of Drs. Gómez, Hjerling-Leffler, Nordmann, Bremholm, Vargas and Mateo, among others. We have also celebrated 5 Student Open Days during the second half of the Project.

The cycle of conferences "Seville Molecular Medicine Workshops" celebrated the second edition in May 2015, focused on “Cell Therapy, molecular mechanisms and clinical translation”. The event was held with the attendance of more than 150 world experts in cell therapy, who gathered to advance in the translation into safe and effective therapies to improve patients' lives. The programme comprised papers from 9 worldwide leaders in the area, plus 6 oral communications and 26 scientific posters.

The Institute developed the ITRIBIS technology transfer strategy for the protection and exploitation of the research results. We are now working on the IBiS Technology Transfer Plan combining the interests of our supporters: Andalusian Regional Government, University of Seville and Spanish National Research Council.

The dissemination plan was successfully carried out. Thus, following actions were undertaken:

• Development of a web-site:

• Preparation of promotional material such as brochures, posters, etc.

• Distribution of leaflets at events and conferences outside the IBiS, such as in BIOSPAIN 2016.

• Creation of profiles on the social networks Twitter (308 followers) and LinkedIn (257 contacts). Creation of the IBiS Twitter profile (527 followers).

• Dissemination of events in bulletins and web-sites.

Finally, the ex-post evaluation was carried out by four high-level, independent international experts proposed by the European Commission and with the agreement of IBiS. Coincident with the last months of the plan execution, they met the Steering Committee to discuss the results of the ITRIBIS project through two weeks in September-October 2016 (1st visit). Meetings celebrated served as the basis for the experts’ evaluation, which was carried out remotely during 10 days per expert, except for the Chairman, who employed 14 days in order to coordinate and make the synthesis of all contributions.

In the month 42, the results of the evaluation were discussed in a round table session by the Steering Committee, Project Management Board and Experts (2nd visit) jointly with the representatives of the Spanish and Regional Authorities, to design the main lines of a medium-scale action plan for the enhancement of the IBiS excellence. The visit duration was 2 days and after that, the independent experts elaborated a report which included a series of recommendations for the sustainability of IBiS research and for an efficient contribution of IBiS to the socioeconomic growth of Andalusia.

Potential Impact:
The improved infrastructure and research environment enhanced through ITRIBIS will have long-lasting effects, such as better scientific projects and high-impact publications. The global result has been the cooperation among strategic partners with complementary business roles, in order to maximize the socio-economic impact of the project, filling of intellectual property rights applications when appropriate, in order to protect the innovative knowledge produced and a closer knowledge transference within IBiS research groups, as well as technology transference with partner institutions and key stakeholders.

On the one hand and in terms of scientific research, IBiS has improved its potential in cell degeneration studies and also working in novel preventive and therapeutic antimicrobial strategies. Both topics have worldwide consequences and an extraordinary impact on medical care costs, so we consider essential further studies on the pathogenesis of prevalent diseases aiming at identification of biomarkers and/or new therapeutic targets. Particularly, thanks to ITRIBIS Project, IBiS research is focused on:

• Neurodegenerative diseases: Specifically Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. Our objective is to develop innovative non-pharmacological advanced therapeutic interventions (cell and gene therapy, brain stimulation, etc) applicable to the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.

• Cardiovascular research focused on the cellular mechanisms and signaling pathways involved in ventricular remodeling as main cause of heart failure in revascularised post-acute myocardial infarction.

• Cancer research, particularly in cancer genome profiling using next generation sequencing technologies, usseful for molecular classification of cancer types and for the identification of diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers and/or therapeutic targets, which can led to individualisation of cancer management and prognosis.

• Novel preventive and therapeutic antimicrobial agents. The work focuses on obtaining therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of nosocomial and large epidemic infections and to develop non-antimicrobial approaches - as pathogenspecific vaccines to prevent the infection, and monoclonal antibodies as adjuvant therapy.

On the other hand, some productivity indicators have enhanced at medium term, such as the number of patent filling and other knowledge protection measures (intellectual property or utility models), the number of licenses obtained and new agreements with large industries companies or other organizations to commercialize research discoveries. Andalusia is the second Spanish region in number of biotech companies, so the number of formal collaborative links with local SMEs and the amount of revenue generated by the direct exploitation of the licensed files are expected to increase.

Future actions will intend to achieve a better integration in the European Research Area, improving the participation of IBiS in Horizon 2020 and other international projects. These programmes represent an excellent opportunity not only to obtain funding, but also to strengthen collaboration networks and allow competing at international level, contributing to the sustainability of the IBiS’ research excellence. Through the secondments and expert visits, we have shared skills and improved facilities for joint projects between institutions, significantly increasing international partnerships and also national cooperation.

ITRIBIS research and innovation capacity has also benefited regional organisations and population, through the economic development and the creation of employment in the biomedical sector. We are increasing collaborations in Andalusia and building an attractive research environment, open to high school students, universities, companies representatives and local citizens. This opening up will facilitate the reintegration of Andalusian scientists working abroad in academic positions and in industry, being helpful in reducing the negative effects of the current brain drain.

In conclusion, ITRIBIS has definitely boosted IBiS translational investigation. Biomedical research is one of the most important factors of economic development in current societies, and a strategic element of major importance for the economic growth of the European Union in general, and in Andalusia in particular. The application of the knowledge developed by the IBiS is having a direct impact on the elements of innovation in health care and the region's economic and social progress.

List of Websites:


Sophie Monteau, (Project Manager)
Tel.: +34 955013645
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