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Final Report Summary - NEUROIMAGE (Reinforcing a center for laser microscopy and cell profiling for regional networking)

The main objective of the proposal was to improve research capacities of a Western Balkan (WB) research centre and of WBs in general, for the groundbreaking research field of cell and tissue imaging in life sciences for health, particularly neurosciences and neurology. The WB centre, which is the single proposer of this action, will be the Institute for Physiology and Biochemistry, School of Biology, University of Belgrade with its centre for laser microscopy.

The basic confocal core facility was upgraded (a third 633 nm laser, higher magnification objectives - x 63 and x 100 with additional optical accessories, software for physiology time series measurements, and an additional transmitted light channel), and reinforced with and electrophysiology setup, thus making the microscope stage universal and capable to cover a wider area of scientific disciplines.

Human resources were reinforced with three postdocs and two students were chosen from a new PhD programme in neuroscience at the faculty and awarded a start-up fellowship from the grant. The employment plan for young researchers is meant to be continued after the project finalisation through applications for national projects for basic research (already two PhD students on the project are also engaged on a national project, funded by the Ministry of Science, Serbia) and for innovation centres. Both project schemes, should offer opportunities for salaries for young research fellows.

In the final project year two one-month visits of young researchers from IPB were performed to the EU participants of the project, namely to Ljubljana (LNMCP) and to Oslo (LMN). Short visits from IPB personnel were also organised to Ljubljana (LNMCP) in order to discuss further collaborations. Several other short visits were performed to other EU research centres and relevant scientific meetings in order to disseminate knowledge and potentially widen the network of partners.

The dissemination plan comprising of an intense mobility plan is also shared with the WB partner (CIBR) that has a similar confocal facility and complementary neuroscience programmes, thus amplifying the impact on the WB region. On the other hand, during workshops general courses on confocal microscopy and its applications will be organised also aiming at recruiting new partners and clients from WBs, beyond the scope of neurophysiology and neurology.

An interaction was first made in September 2006 with an IBRO sponsored workshop 'Imaging in neurosciences and beyond' organised by the coordinator and steering committee partners at Sveti Stefan, Montenegro.

In the second reporting period the dissemination of knowledge workshop was organised in Belgrade with the participation of representatives of all partners and of new potential partners and clients of the IPB Center. In the second reporting period, IPB also organised a training school in neuroimaging and complementary techniques that was co-financed by ESFCOST (Action B30) and IBRO.

In the third reporting period, CIBR and IPB organised jointly the Regional multidisciplinary biomedical workshop (RMBW) in Opatija, Croatia. This workshop was also organised with the COST action B30 and along with a workshop of the Croatian Microscopy Society.

The participation of young researchers from the WB region was notable. Tracking and updating of a respective user list will be possible through maintenance of the centre's web page (see online) and forum facility (see online) installed at the IPB server.

The main potential impact is that with the help of reinforcement of new technologies and on the ground of traditionally strong scientific potential already present in the WB partner centres (e.g. cellular neurophysiology in IPB, Belgrade twined with neuroanatomy in CIBR, Zagreb) the resulting facility will represent a necessary and complementary unit to be integrated in ERA.

In fact, in the reporting period the coordinator has taken part with some of the participants in two Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) consortium project proposals and one bilateral (with CIBR). In addition, four participants of NEUROIMAGE - IPB, CIBR, LMN and CRLM are already members of a new COST action, B30 'Neural regeneration and plasticity' NEREPLAS that was launched in July 2006. This action covers a wide population of ERA centres that offers very good possibilities for interaction with NEUROIMAGE.

EU partners interfacing with this project have been selected for their diverse experience and competence in cell imaging and profiling, especially regarding the rapidly developing technology of laser scanning confocal microscopy and its applications in neurosciences. This presents a European added value to the project that brings the exchange of expertise and allows the IPB Centre to be integrated in the European process of development of knowledge in these fields of neuroscience.

So far as a result of interactions with NEUROIMAGE, several project initiatives have risen: the bilateral project with CIBR was approved; an EC networking grant with the University of Szeged (Hungary) was approved; a bilateral grant proposal with University of Debrecen (Hungary) is pending; a DFG grant proposal with University of Hamburg is also pending.

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