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Establishing the Hungarian Center of Excellence for Molecular Medicine in partnership with EMBL

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - HCEMM (Establishing the Hungarian Center of Excellence for Molecular Medicine in partnership with EMBL)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-12-31

The Hungarian Center of Excellence for Molecular Medicine (HCEMM) is conducting research and development in Translational Medicine. Together with European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the advanced partner, HCEMM recruits and retains the best scientists and establishes a network of sites, currently at the founding organizations Biological Research Centre Szeged, Semmelweis University, Budapest and the University of Szeged and with an intent of expanding this network over time to cover all institutions involved in Translational Medicine in Hungary. Incorporated as a non-for-profit company, HCEMM Kft. explores new avenues to increase the impact of Hungarian research and development in the field of Molecular Medicine and establish solid connections to the Biomedical Industry worldwide.

The overall goals of the project are:
1. Development of an autonomous research institute that has the ability to contribute to the renewal of the Hungarian research and innovation system, i.e. establishment of the Hungarian Center of Excellence for Molecular Medicine;
2. Improvement of the international standing of Hungary in the field of Molecular Medicine in a strong partnership with EMBL
3. Provision of cutting-edge technologies, opportunities for cross-fertilization and autonomy as well as freedom to conduct innovative research for Hungarian scientists;
4. Active contributions to the education and training of researchers in the area of Molecular Medicine for the next generation of scientists;
5. Cooperation with industry by ensuring the transfer of technology and knowledge to industrial partners based in Hungary as well as worldwide, by promoting research groups to form spin-off companies, by attracting and related translational projects with associations or companies to make contribution to sustainable development and value for society and through provision of services;
6. Participation in the wide-ranging social debate on the scientific and technological aspects of Molecular Medicine, by actively engaging in objective communication on science, with a focus on educating the public and being receptive to their needs.
• The Director General of the company, Dr. Christoph W. Sensen, was recruited via an international recruitment process.
• A Partnership Agreement between EMBL and HCEMM Non-profit Ltd. was signed to facilitate scientific exchange and support, including guidance on new research culture, scientific and management approaches, setting up the Advanced Core Facilities and internationalization of research groups. The partnership with EMBL is at the core of HCEMM as a research and service center.
• The HCEMM Non-profit Kft. took over the EU Teaming Grant project management on November 1 2018.
• Until December 2020, the scientific recruitment and all scientific work packages have been accelerated in the fields of knowledge transfer, training and education, scientific activities, communication and open access supporting the development of a new centre of excellence.
• EMBL has intensively supported the project in all fields with all good practices, continuous advice, and significant personnel efforts.
• As a key result, 14 HCEMM research groups are now active in the fields of Immuno-inflammatory Diseases, Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases and Genomic Instability and Cancer and three more are expected to start their work in the next few weeks. Three Advanced Core Facilities are now also in place: the HCEMM-USZ Functional Cell Biology and Immunology, the HCEMM-BRC Single Cell Omics and the HCEMM-SU In Vivo Imaging ACF.
• The construction of the HCEMM headquarters has begun and HCEMM plans to move into the Incubator House in Szeged by the end of 2020.
The Consortium expects that, due to the project implementation, the scientific capacities of Hungary will increase and therefore it will improve its chances to seek competitive funding in the international fora. It is also expected that Hungary will engage in a strategic growth path pointing to long-term opportunities for economic development. It will significantly improve its research and innovation culture and benefits will also accrue to the institutions from the more intensive research and innovation performers, in terms of access to new research avenues, creativity and sources for increased mobility (inwards and outwards) of qualified scientists.