The main thrust of the EU-funded INSPIRE (Integrating the emerging research potential of the University of Athens cancer research group in the European research area) project was the scientific and technological reinforcement of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens' (NKUA) basic and translational Cancer Research Group (NKUA-CRG). The project aimed to help upgrade the existing multidisciplinary research, technological and education unit in Greece to a new entity comparable to other outstanding facilities and research entities in Europe. It brought together 10 strategic partners located in some of the most eminent European research entities, strengthening existing links and the transfer of know-how. To achieve this aim, the partners assembled an advisory board for the evaluation of scientific and technical strategy and project progress. Specific state-of-the-art instruments were purchased, and the recruitment of experienced researchers and engineers was successfully accomplished and properly implemented. Two-way secondments with its EU partners allowed the NKUA-CRG human resources body to be part of an international scientific environment. The INSPIRE participating research groups produced a large number of high-impact publications in international peer-reviewed journals, and from those, INSPIRE was acknowledged in 28 high impact research or review articles and in numerous international conferences. The INSPIRE consortium also organised (among others) six international meetings and workshops in the thematic fields of the project. Importantly, NKUA-CRG investigated novel molecular tumour biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy response prediction in order to create panels of tumour biomarkers that can assist clinicians' in decision making. Moreover, NKUA-CRG searched for new agents with anti-cancer and/or anti-ageing activity focusing in part on the compounds isolated from the plants of the Mediterranean basin. This region of the world is a unique source of novel natural compounds as it is characterised by extensive biodiversity. A specific beneficial nutritional pattern, the so-called Mediterranean diet, magnified this localised advantage. NKUA-CRG exploited the opportunities provided by the project to create future strategic partnerships with eminent EU research institutions, as well as for the reinforcement of its existing scientific, educational and technological strengths, supporting its integration into the most advanced EU research system.
Cancer research, University of Athens, molecular tumour biomarkers, diagnosis, prognosis, therapy response