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Theodor Bilharz into the European Research Area

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Strengthening liver disease research in Egypt

Liver disease claims about 40 000 lives a year, making it the second most common cause of death in Egypt. An EU initiative helped boost the overall capacity of the Theodor Bilharz Research Institute (TBRI), recognised throughout the Mediterranean region for its work in this disease.

Health

The incidence of liver disease is growing annually in Egypt, representing more than 10% of the total number of deaths per year. Strengthening the cooperation capacities of renowned research centres such as TBRI can help reverse this troubling trend. To achieve this, the EU-funded THEBERA (Theodor Bilharz into the European Research Area) project aimed to define liver research priorities that respond to socioeconomic needs, facilitate participation in European liver research projects and integrate into the European Research Area (ERA). Work began with a mapping of the current situation in liver disease research in Egypt. This helped to identify key policies, programmes, funding requirements, existing cooperation tendencies and key players. Project partners defined liver disease gaps and innovation priority needs concerning governance, finance, networking, training, policy and research. A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis was conducted to assess existing resources, namely personnel, infrastructure and organisation. This led to the development of a skills and competence toolbox containing 32 recommendations for TBRI resources. Four training and consortium building workshops were held to inform on the Seventh Framework Programme and Horizon 2020 issues such as participation and funding opportunities. To better link Egyptian and EU researchers, the project set up a database containing relevant liver research stakeholders. Lastly, a strategic action plan presented a roadmap over the next 5 years for establishing TBRI as a centre for scientific and research excellence and know-how in liver disease. This initiative promises to strengthen the institute's profile internationally. TBRI is well on its way to establishing itself as a research leader in liver disease and becoming fully integrated into the ERA. Thanks to THEBERA, patients with chronic liver diseases stand to benefit from world-class research in prevention and treatment.

Keywords

Liver disease, Egypt, Theodor Bilharz Research Institute, European Research Area resource, liver disease research

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