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Medical Genomics and Epigenomics Network

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MEDGENET (Medical Genomics and Epigenomics Network)

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

The Medical Genomics and Epigenomics Network (MEDGENET) was a 3-year H2020 TWINNING project that commenced on January 1st 2016. TWINNING forms a new element of the Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation (SEWP) aspect of the Horizon 2020 program. The philosophy behind H2020 TWINNING projects lies in strengthening a specific research field within a research institution by linking it with world-renowned partners via a number of institutional networking and training activities. The overall aim of the SEWP projects is to increase the research quality, international visibility, and competitiveness of a coordinating institution from a country with lower efficiency in research, development and innovation through knowledge transfer, the implementation of cutting edge technologies, the exchange of practices between leading institutions and the formation of new collaborative links.
The MEDGENET project, as a component of the TWINNING scheme, aimed to use synergies and existing expertise in the field of medical genomics and epigenomics, particularly in the field of cancer biology, from leading EU partner institutions – EMBL, Uppsala University (UU), and CERTH, to reinforce and extend the productivity and competitiveness of a newer research institute established in 2011, namely the Masaryk University, CEITEC – Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC MU). The MEDGENET consortium aimed to create a well-educated taskforce of biomedical researchers, who would contribute to the development of novel genomics and bioinformatics tools and their application in clinical practice. This project also enabled establishment of the best practice for performing innovative and high-quality biomedical research, which ultimately can be translated into high value-added clinical applications.
During the whole period of 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 to enhance CEITEC´s visibility and international recognition. Within the 2nd reporting period, six high-profiles speakers arrived to CEITEC MU to give lecture from all over the world.
Eleven research training events including one conference were jointly organized by MEDGENET partners, six of them took place at CEITEC MU, one at UU, three in CERTH and one at EMBL. All of these events helped to educate and train a new generation of young scientists, but also transfer methodological proficiency from partner institutions to sustain a technological platform for genomic research at CEITEC MU. New collaborative links established during the 1st part of the project duration were significantly reinforced thanks to a numerous secondment focused on basic as well as applied and translational research at partner institutions. The partnership between laboratories was strengthened and resulted in production of joint-publications in several cases. Numerous activities also targeted research support services and aimed at reinforcing CEITEC´s competitiveness in grant support and research project management.
The joint project results were presented at number of international conferences, e.g. at the European Society of Human Genetics conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, The RNA Society meeting in Berkeley, USA, The 23rd Annual Congress of EUROPEAN HEMATOLOGY ASSOCIATION in Stockholm, Sweden, The 60th Annual Meeting & Exposition of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego, USA and others. MEDGENET project was also presented at various occasions in Czech or Slovak Ministry or at REA (Coordinator´s Day) as examples of good practice. Importantly, the consortium placed emphasis on dissemination of MEDGENET 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, MEDGENET project helped to reinforce CEITEC research profile as well as its international recognition. The impact is visible at the overall research capacity as well as on the individual research profiles. It is positively reflected also in the visibility of CEITEC and its international recognition and prestige. Finally, yet importantly, the impact of MEDGENET can be detected on the regional level.
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 MEDENET partners was published in prestigious journals and CEITEC also improved in the quality of publications in the field of medical genomics, epigenomics, bioinformatics and genetics. 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, three H2020-HEALTH proposals were prepared in collaboration with MEDGENET partners. One of them was awarded funding and already being implemented (MyPal: Fostering Palliative Care of Adults and Children with Cancer through Advanced Patient Reported Outcome Systems coordinated by CERTH. 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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