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BrIdging Structural BiOlogy with Biological SyNthesis and Self Assembly to Reveal Key Processes in Living Systems

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BISON (BrIdging Structural BiOlogy with Biological SyNthesis and Self Assembly to Reveal Key Processes in Living Systems)

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2018-12-31

The project Bridging Structural Biology with Biological Synthesis and Self Assembly to Reveal Key Processes in Living Systems (BISON) is a 3-year H2020 TWINNING project initiated on 1st January 2016. TWINNING is a new instrument of the Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation (SEWP) part of Horizon 2020 program. The philosophy of H2020 TWINNING projects lies in strengthening of a specific research field in a research institution through linking it with internationally leading partners via a number of institutional networking and training activities. The overall aim of the SEWP projects is to increase research quality and prestige of a coordinating institution from a country with lower efficiency in research, development and innovation through knowledge transfer and exchange of practices with leading institutions.
The purpose of the BISON project was to transform the research using Structural Biology methods to be more applied and relevant to urgent societal challenges. It aimed to do this by enhancing the collaborative framework between a young research institute of Masaryk University, CEITEC – Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC MU), established in 2011, and three top-level European research institutions – University of Vienna (UNIVIE), The Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA), and University of East Anglia (UEA). The BISON project managed to bring a significant improvement in the overall capacity for science and innovation at CEITEC MU in the research of Structural Biology and trans-disciplinary fields, especially cell biology, biological chemistry and synthetic biology, and the new generation of therapeutics. The project also strengthened the competence of CEITEC MU to study complex problems in the field of structural biology and related trans-disciplinary areas and improved the potential to translate the research results into high value-added applications.
During the whole time of the project implementation, a significant progress was made to fulfill stated objectives. A number of activities were executed in order to advance scientific excellence and innovation capacity of CEITEC MU, ensure transfer of knowledge and skills and enhance CEITEC´s visibility and international recognition. Within the 2nd reporting period, 16 invited talks of top experts from partner institutions took place at CEITEC. Nine research training events were organized, five of them at CEITEC and four at partner institution. All of them allowing young researchers to gain state-of-the-art knowledge beyond standard education curricula and to network in an international research environment. Five high-profile research events including one conference were organized jointly by BISON partners, four of them taking place in Brno. Thanks to the BISON joint-supervision programme, young researchers were provided with a complex skill-set allowing their smooth progress towards an independent research career. New collaborative links established during the 1st part of the project duration were significantly reinforced and in some cases resulted in production of joint-publications. The partnership between laboratories was strengthened via short-term and mid-term secondments. Several activities also targeted research support services and aimed at reinforcing CEITEC´s competitiveness in grant support and research management.
The joint project results were presented at number of international conferences, e.g. at International Carbohydrate Symposium in Lisboa, Portugal, XXVIII International Conference on Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems in Dublin, Ireland, ECM31 European Crystallographic Meeting in Oviedo, Spain, The 23rd European Nitrogen Cycle Meeting in Alicante, Spain and others. BISON project was also presented at various occasions in Czech or Slovak Ministry or at REA (Coordinator´s Day) as examples of good practice. Last but importantly, the consortium placed emphasis on dissemination of BISON activities as well as the project as a whole among wider public via active participation at Researcher’s Night, open days and other events for public.
Thanks to a collaboration with top European leaders in the field, BISON project helped to reinforce CEITEC research profile as well as its international recognition. Knowledge transfer and inspiration from leading partners is an important component in this upgrading. During the whole time of the project implementation, number of collaborative publications co-authored by CEITEC and other BISON partners was published in prestigious journals and CEITEC also improved in the quality of publications in the field of structural biology. A positive development is also visible in the citation rate of these publications. From the data currently available, it can also be concluded that CEITEC MU is improving in the ability to attract international funding. Furthermore, two H2020 research projects with participation of multiple BISON partners were submitted to the 2018 call and other are being prepared for 2019 call. Advancing CEITEC MU to an internationally acknowledged excellent research institution will consequently have a positive impact on the overall research and innovation potential of the South Moravian region in the Czech Republic, which aims to become one of the innovation hubs of Europe.
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