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MOlecular-Scale Biophysics Research Infrastructure

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MOSBRI (MOlecular-Scale Biophysics Research Infrastructure)

Reporting period: 2021-07-01 to 2022-12-31

Molecular-scale biophysics aims at studying biological systems at an intermediate level between atomic-resolution structural descriptions and cellular-scale observations. It addresses essential questions on how active biomolecular assemblies form and function. These include insights into their architecture, folding, stability and dynamics, as well as into the energy and kinetics of their interactions, both at ensemble and single-event levels. It is a strongly interdisciplinary field involving physicists, biologists, chemists, as well as medical, bioinformatics and materials scientists. The MOlecular-Scale Biophysics Research Infrastructure (MOSBRI) addresses the pressing need for a truly integrated and multi-methodological taskforce in the field, combining the best up-to-date instrumentation and the best expertise available in Europe, to the benefit of all researchers in the fields of biomedicine, biotechnology, biomaterials and beyond, from both academia and industry (notably SMEs). The consortium of 2 companies and 13 academic centres of excellence from 11 countries gathers a wide complementary panel of cutting-edge instrumentation and expertise, leveraging barriers that currently hinder the optimal exploitation of molecular-scale biophysical approaches.
MOSBRI provides academic and industrial researchers with a one-stop shop Trans-National Access to the latest technological developments in advanced spectroscopies, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, real-time kinetics, and single molecule approaches.
The consortium is playing a major role in standardisation and policymaking in the field by carrying out Joint Research Activities to develop innovative methodologies, designing robust quality control guidelines and FAIR-compatible archiving formats and databases and engaging with instrumentation, pharma, biotech and CRO SMEs.
MOSBRI shares and disseminates theoretical and practical knowledge through conferences and training events in Europe, contributing to the emergence of a highly qualified new generation of scientists and reaching out to scientific communities currently unaware of the full potential of the integrated use of molecular-scale biophysics tools. Moreover, MOSBRI is complementary to other research infrastructures, thus helping to create a strong cross-fertilizing ecosystem with leveraging effects for European science. MOSBRI represents a unique opportunity for Europe to remain at the forefront in the field of molecular biophysics, thereby contributing significantly to the acceleration of discoveries beneficial for OneHealth.
Since July 2021, MOSBRI has submitted 18 deliverables to the European Commission and achieved 13 milestones, attesting its highly successful trans-national access scheme and its large variety of joint research and networking activities.
• Trans-National Access: MOSBRI has put in place a dedicated TNA proposal submission system, involving a large panel of 69 external reviewers. 76 project proposals were submitted during this first reporting period, with 74 finally accepted after iterative interaction with the proposers. Of these, 48 have already had access to the MOSBRI TNA sites.
Three peer-reviewed publications have already acknowledged the contribution of our TNA scheme and at least two more are in preparation. Special efforts have been made to attract applications from industry and scientific fields other than biophysics.
• Joint Research Activities: We have widely assessed the needs for potential improvements in existing biophysical technologies to address novel applications. Furthermore, MOSBRI partners have evaluated several new technologies, and one of them (mass photometry) has been recently introduced in 4 MOSBRI TNA sites.
At another level, MOSBRI has started to develop a two-level certification scheme (Operator and Analyst) for several biophysical methods, with an aim to train and accredit scientists (notably TNA users) wishing to become recognized autonomous operators/analysts of technologies covered by MOSBRI.
Furthermore, standard protein systems and procedures are being developed and trialled to optimally assess instrument performance and consistency among the MOSBRI consortium and beyond,
Finally, through surveys, MOSBRI has identified the techniques for which there is the highest need to establish data/metadata format standards and a repository based on FAIR principles.
• Networking activities: During RP1, MOSBRI has organized 4 training schools and an international conference, attracting a total of 207 participants from all over Europe and beyond. The culture of cooperation and continuous quality improvement among MOSBRI partners has been further boosted by staff exchange visits between the partners. Two consensus meetings on different topics have led to benchmarking actions that will aim at improving best practices at the level of sample preparation, instrument operation and data analysis.
MOSBRI has gained visibility among a variety of stakeholders, notably the European Biophysics Societies Association (EBSA, that will host a MOSBRI session during its EBSA2023 international congress), and two research infrastructures (Instruct-ERIC and iNEXT) which have launched a joint international TNA call with MOSBRI.
Partnerships with industry have been pro-actively developed: two companies are involved in the MOSBRI consortium, three others are represented in its Scientific Advisory Board and a further two have benefited from TNA access. 19 companies have participated in MOSBRI events as sponsors, delegates or invited speakers.
The main means of communication established by MOSBRI have been the project website ( that has been very efficient both for internal and external communication, newsletters (5 published during this first reporting period) and flyers in four languages, as well as social media accounts at LinkedIn and Twitter (more than 600 posts).
MOSBRI has clearly shown that there was, in Europe and worldwide, an unmet need for a well-identified integrated access to molecular-scale biophysical methodologies and expertise. This has been highlighted by the submission of close to 80 proposals during this first reporting period, with numbers steadily increasing since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. A distinctive feature of the MOSBRI TNA scheme, which to the best of our knowledge is unique in the research infrastructure ecosystem, is its “maturation” modality. It enables scientists with poor prior awareness of the capacities of molecular-scale biophysics methods to submit their questions without any inhibitions; these are maturated together with an internal moderator panel until they result in a full proposal.
Other notable MOSBRI innovations are its “driving license” skill accreditation system and its FAIR database project, both of which will highly benefit the new generation of scientists and the research community at large. Finally, the strong emphasis put in standardization, quality control and best practices in data production, analysis and storage will warrant an optimal robustness and reliability of the results provided by molecular-scale biophysics technologies. This will ensure their strong impact in the fields of biomedicine, biotechnology, biomaterials and beyond, both in academia and industry (notably SMEs).
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