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Reducing networking gaps between Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) and internationally - leading counterparts in viral infection-induced autoimmunity research

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VirA (Reducing networking gaps between Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) and internationally - leading counterparts in viral infection-induced autoimmunity research)

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2022-02-28

Autoimmune diseases (AD) are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, creating a challenge for researchers and clinicians to find evidence-based solutions for AD diagnostics, treatment and prevention. Due to the complexity of autoimmune disease research, which requires multidisciplinary approaches, one of the main problems is insufficient research capacity in low-performing Member State research institutions. Therefore, the lack of networking between institutions of low performing Member States and internationally - leading institutions are slowing down progress in autoimmune disease research at the EU level.

The main goal of the Health Societal Challenge is better health for all. Its main policy objectives are to improve the health of people of working age by improved understanding of molecular mechanisms of disease manifestation in autoimmunity. This will lead to higher levels of well-being outcomes and promote healthy and active ageing, job creation and contribute to establishing the EU as a global leader in the health field. This will also result in a reduction in public spending and labour productivity losses.


The overall objective of the project is to promote autoimmune disease research capacity and fill networking gaps in the institution (RSU) of the low-performing Member State – Latvia, by establishing a consortium with leading research institutions from Italy - University of Ferrara, Germany - Ulm University, and Israel – SHEBA Medical Centre/Tel-Aviv University. The partner universities are the excellence centres (world leaders) that are forerunners in the corresponding areas and are capable of inspiring positive change in the research field and significantly impact future development by:
1) Increasing research excellence of the coordinating institution in the field of research as a result of the twinning exercise;
2) Enhancing the reputation, attractiveness and networking channels of the coordinating institution;
3) Enhancing the scientific and technological capacity of the linked institutions with a principal focus on the university or research organization from the Widening Country
Three virtual workshops are organized on “New trends in autoimmune diseases immunological profiling” (with 74 participants); “Viral Infections as Aetiological or Trigger Factors of Autoimmune Diseases” (with 188 participants) and “Importance of differential diagnostic in rheumatic diseases” (with 90 listeners). New knowledge on actualities in autoimmunity are acquired by participating in Friday Mosaic of Autoimmunity International Meeting organized by Israeli partners. The 1st LATVIA - ISRAEL On-line Symposium of Autoimmunity was organized on-line. 19 research articles are published and one manuscript submitted in open access journals, two of them in collaboration with partners from Italy and Israel. PhD thesis (Dr.med.) “Thyroid autoimmunity: exploring the role of Th17-associated cytokines and pathomorphological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease” and BSc thesis: “Presence of human parvovirus B19 and activin in patients with ME/CFS” were defended. Results of the work are presented in more than 30 international meetings/ conferences/congresses (manly on-line due to the COVID situation).
The multidisciplinary research units focused on autoimmune diseases are created and S&T potential and personal capacity of researchers in new methods/areas is increased despite the limitations due to the COVID situation. Collaboration in various research directions is broadened via participation in seminars/meetings/ conferences (mainly on-line). Recognition of the University research and researchers is expended via publications in open access journals and media coverage (reports in professional organizations, participation in radio and TV programs, publication of popular scientific articles). The socio-economic impact is foreseen because diagnostic biomarkers used in the clinic are being studied, which in turn will allow a faster diagnosis and the choice of the right therapeutic approach because diagnostic biomarkers used in the clinic are being studied, which in turn will allow a faster diagnosis and the choice of the right therapeutic approach.
Project Kick-off-meeting participants