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The benefits of scientific collaboration between Ukraine and the EU

Bringing together partners from five European countries, this EU-funded project is tasked with transforming the capacity for scientific excellence and innovation in cellular and molecular neuroscience at an important Ukrainian research institute.

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Cellular and molecular neuroscience is a new and fast-growing subdiscipline in neuroscience. From the discovery of DNA some 70 years ago to recent innovations like cloning, this field of neuroscience is vast. It’s also one made possible through scientific collaboration. It is within this context of team science that the EU-funded NEUROTWIN project was launched in August 2019. Nearing completion (project ends in July 2022), project coordinators have worked to re-establish the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology (BIPH) in Kyiv, Ukraine, as an international centre of excellence in the field of cellular and molecular neuroscience. To achieve this, NEUROTWIN partners initiated a large-scale knowledge transfer, increasing the competitiveness of BIPH researchers in securing funding from international grant bodies. Since the start of the project, the overall goal has been to improve the quality of scientific output through continuous training of research staff in academic writing and elevate the quality of postgraduate studies.

Workshops and training to enhance research

According to the project’s first periodic report, coordinators organised workshops covering topics on knowledge transfer, methodology and current approaches, as well as on research documentation protocols. The workshops were led by leading Ukrainian scientists. Within this spirit of collaborations with significant levels of interaction, the project also organised two training events. The first was the Summer Science Week. The second was the Student Workshop. Both events were geared towards early-stage researchers. The purpose of these events, including two scientific writing workshops, was to increase the publication of original research articles in high-ranking international journals. This is part of NEUROTWIN’s key objective of supporting and improving the BIPH and boosting its participation in international funding and innovation arenas. To realise this goal, the project developed detailed action plans defining the aims and objectives of communication, dissemination and exploitation. Additional steps included the identification of stakeholders and target audiences, as well as risk assessments.

Partnerships for excellence

According to the project’s report: “The fulfilment of the Project will result in the enhancement of the S&T [science and technology] capacity of BIPH and leading Participants in a field of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience. The Project will also help raise the BIPH innovation capacity and competitiveness of BIPH researchers in international fundraising.” Re-establishing the BIPH as a centre of excellence will certainly demonstrate the value of scientific partnership that is highly collaborative. The Academia Europaea, a non-governmental association of 4 500 scientists and scholars and more than 70 Nobel laureates, recently highlighted in a news item on its website one example of the impact such networking and partnerships can have. Referencing the collaboration between the BIPH and Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, it notes: “A paper published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA … on ‘Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ channel blockade as a potential tool in antipancreatitis therapy’, co-authored by staff from Cardiff University and the Bogomoletz Institute in Kyiv, is in the top-20 most cited papers (out of a total of more than 5000 papers) with a UK-Ukraine collaboration over the past ten years.” Continued efforts by the NEUROTWIN project are slated to amplify the potential for such excellence at the BIPH, advancing the field of cellular and molecular neuroscience and boosting EU-Ukraine scientific partnership. For more information, please see: NEUROTWIN project website

Keywords

NEUROTWIN, scientific collaboration, centre of excellence, cellular and molecular neuroscience, Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, Ukraine