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INTEGRA-LIFE Report Summary

Project ID: 315997
Funded under: FP7-REGPOT
Country: Croatia

Final Report Summary - INTEGRA-LIFE (Integrating research in molecular life sciences at the University of Zagreb)

Executive Summary:
IntegraLife project aimed to functionally integrate and reinforce the most promising research groups in the field of molecular life sciences from different faculties and departments of UNI-Zagreb. All selected groups have demonstrated excellence in research and the ability to raise international research funds, even before the start of the project and the main strength of the project was the already demonstrated excellence of our researchers in several complementary areas of molecular life sciences (glycoproteomics, epigenetics, genetic engineering, biochemistry and bioinformatics). The proposed integration of research efforts of 24 participating principal investigators into four strategic research priorities created the opportunity to form a respectable critical mass of researchers and infrastructural capacity which enabled the most ambitious interdisciplinary research projects. Significant investments in both equipment and human resources through the IntegraLife project resulted in the creation of a considerable research potential which is being evergreened through new H2020 projects that were awarded during the life of the project. The IntegraLife project significantly increased the visibility of UNI-Zagreb in the ERA and enable us to take leading roles in large international consortia, like for example the Human Glycome Initiative that we are currently initiating.

Project Context and Objectives:
Project context and objectives
Central objective of the IntegraLife project was to reinforce research potential of the University of Zagreb in the field of molecular life sciences. It enabled procurement of advanced research equipment, recruitment of experienced researchers and networking with prominent research institutions in Europe.

Work performed in the project
We have made all new equipment fully functional and used it to improve research potential of participating groups. The most significant pieces of equipment are:
1. Advanced system for glycome analysis
2. System for epigenetic analyses
3. High-performance computing system
4. System for microbial growth and analysis
5. System for quantitative analysis of macromolecular interactions

Research potential of participating research groups has been increased by recruitment of 13 experienced researchers and three young researchers:
1. Experienced engineer for HPLC analysis
2. Experienced engineer for laser microdisection
3. Experienced researcher for glycoproteomics
4. Experienced statistician
5. Two experienced researchers for epigenetics
6. Two young researchers for glycan analysis
7. Experienced computer technician
8. Young researcher for metagenomics
9. Experienced researcher for bioinformatics
10. Experienced researcher for antibiotic resistance
11. Experienced engineer for drug research
12. Experienced biophysicist
13. More experienced macromolecular interactions researcher
14. Experienced researcher for protein-protein interactions

The IntegraLife project has enabled 53 secondments and 91 short visits to and from partnering and other leading research organisations. Furthermore, it supported organisation of four conferences, three summer schools, five workshops and one practical course, as well as 126 participations of IntegraLife researchers at international conferences.

The improved research potential enabled us to improve our research collaboration and research output. A number of new collaborations were established and the best evidence for this is our participation in a number of new Horizon2020 applications. National research council and the Ministry of Science of Croatia Furthermore also approved our application for the National centre of scientific excellence, and we are now an official Centre of Research Excellence (13 such centres have been established in Croatia). Furthermore, we have made progress in the quality of research journals in which we publish our results, as exemplified by publication in in Nature, Cell and Nature Reviews Gastroenterology in the last two years. Our international visibility improved significantly and for example prof. Lauc was elected president of the International Glycoconjugate organisation for 2015 – 2017.

Final results and their potential impact
IntegraLife project reinforced research potential of participating researchers and promote their participation in the European Research Area. This resulted in more joint international research grants, more publications in top research journals and more invited presentations at prestigious research conference.

Project Results:
IntegraLife was a RegPot project intended to develop research potential. It did not include any generation of S&T foreground.

Potential Impact:
IntegraLife was a RegPot project intended to develop research potential. Therefore the impact of the project is best judged by its effects on the research potential of participating researchers. In the field of life science research, scientific publications in international journals is the best measure of research quality, and impact factors of journals in which results are published are the best immediate proxy for the quality of research.

In order to assess the effect of the IntegraLife project on the quality of publications, we have analyzed publications authored by the authors participating in the grant. The journal Impact Factors (IF), as defined by ISI, were collected for publications before the granting period (2011- mid 2013) and during the granting period (mid 2013-2016) and their distributions were compared. Both median IF and maximum IF values were significantly increased as a consequence of increased capacity enabled through the INTEGRALife funding. For comparison, the Croatian national median IF value is close to 1. This demonstrates that the already demonstrated excellence within the grant holders (median IF ~2.1) increased on average by 50% because of the present grant funding (median IF during the grant ~3). Furthermore, this funding enabled us to publish in top ranking journals, which is visible by a substantial increase in the maximum IF before (~8.8) and during the granting period (~42.3). We believe that this is a very significant achievement, which indicates that this project will have impact on future research potential of participating researchers and institutions.

Additional conformation for this estimate is the fact that even in the situation of decreasing success rates in H2020 projects, our participating investigators managed to obtain funding for four H2020 projects (Prof Lauc: GlyCoCan, GlySign, SYSCID and ImForFutore; Prof Zoldos: SYSCID) in the total amount od 2.1 million Euros. Through these projects we expect to continue to produce top-level research results and also recruit eight new researchers.

List of Websites:
Project website:

Contact: Prof. Gordan Lauc, University of Zagreb
Tel: +38516394467
Fax: +38516394400

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