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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INSTRUCT-ULTRA (Releasing the full potential of Instruct to expand and consolidate infrastructure services for integrated structural life science research)


Project ID: 731005
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INSTRUCT-ULTRA (Releasing the full potential of Instruct to expand and consolidate infrastructure services for integrated structural life science research)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Instruct-ULTRA aims to advance Instruct-ERIC as the leading provider of integrated structural biology in Europe, enabling academic and commercial science communities to benefit from the potential of visualizing protein structure in a cellular context. Europe is a world leader in structural and cell biology and there are opportunities for massively increasing impact by applying the latest high‐end methods for integrated analyses. The objectives are:
• Expand the membership of instruct-ERIC to new EU members, international partners and industrial partners
• Engage with non-structural biology life science user communities
• Enhance the delivery of technology and expertise in new methods through training and quality management
• Improve data capture and management

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Instruct-ULTRA consists of 8 work packages and progress has made in all areas. 7/7 milestones have been reached and 8/9 deliverables achieved (one is delayed due to factors outside of the project).

WP1 - Advancing Instruct through Instruct-ULTRA
Raising the profile of the Research Infrastructures (RI) and communicating the services, technology and expertise provided are fundamental to build up the Instruct-ERIC user base in new scientific communities, both in academia and industry. A dissemination and outreach plan was developed (D1.4) and implementation begun in conjunction with WP3 and WP5.

WP2 - Roadmap to the future for Instruct
To ensure sustainability for Instruct-ERIC, a review was made of the portfolio of services and technology provided by the RI (D2.1). Recommendations included increasing capacity for cryo-Electron Microscopy and nanobody technology, which contributed to a strategic planning meeting 16th May 2018.

WP3- Expanding Instruct Membership and international outreach
The status of the structural biology communities in Austria and Brazil were presented the Instruct-ULTRA Annual General Assembly 7-8 Mar 2018, towards planning for expansion of ERIC membership in Europe and beyond (D3.1 and D3.3). Significant progress has been made in developing links with Latin America leading to the drafting of a MoU between Instruct-ERIC and CeBEM (Center for Structural Biology of MERCOSUR), covering cooperation in training and access to technology in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Instruct-ULTRA partners are actively engaged with the SESAME synchrotron in Jordan.

WP4- Advancing Instruct through Instruct-ULTRA
Instruct-ULTRA have opened 2 calls for projects that address new technology and new communities respectively (D4.1 and D4.3). 11 pilot projects were selected which prototype new services (e.g. electron paramagnetic spectroscopy for studying unstructured proteins complexes), engage with new potential Instruct-ERIC members, and form links with industry partners.

WP5- Reaching new user communities and industry
A strategy for increasing industry engagement was developed and a webpage completed for the new Instruct-ERIC website. Key events are scheduled to promote Instruct-ERIC to new scientific communities including neuroscience, pharmacology and biochemistry.

WP6: Expanding access provision and user services
A position paper was published on the operation of European NMR infrastructure (D6.3) and a joint call for projects launched in conjunction with EuroBioNMR. The technical specification of new software to enable pre-planning of access projects in silico by users and providers has been developed and implementation is in progress. In a joint activity with manufacturer ThermoFisher Eindhoven, trials are underway to allow remote control of microscopes from external location.

WP7 - Streamlining Access Procedures for Pioneering Structural Biology Methods
Work to improve sample preparation workflows to enable the integration of structural methods specifically using eukaryotic expression systems is underway. Structural analysis of protein in situ by “in-cell” NMR has progressed: (a) a protocol developed to acquire NMR spectra from labelled high molecular weight proteins directly from cell lysates; (b) a specialised flow apparatus developed to maintain live cell viability and extend the time frame for in-cell NMR.

WP8: Increasing the quality and integrity of structural data and metadata and increasing open data sharing
Management of cryo-EM data is a high priority for the scientific community. A key achievement was building connectivity between the outputs of cryo-EM analysis software (Scipion) and the database (IsPyB) that is almost universally used at synchrotrons. The automated deposition of processing workflows from Scipion into EMPIAR, the EM Public Image archive at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is undergoing testing.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

1. Ensure scientific excellence
A focus on cutting edge technology by Research Infrastructures (RIs) will ensure excellent science and the opportunity to drive innovation. The Research and Development activity in Instruct-ULTRA (WP4, 6 and 7) will maximize the impact of new advances in structural biology by developing methods into robust services that can be included in the Instruct-ERIC access portfolio, so that benefits of new technology will be widely available.

2. Establish best practice
Exchanging experience through facility manager workshops contributes to establishing best practice in services and technology (WP1). Cryo-EM is the highest priority area for academia and industry in structural biology with a significant skills shortage. Overall provision of services will be enhanced and the widest possible availability of expertise across Europe ensured.

3. Promote the involvement of Women in Structural Biology
Traditionally the gender balance of structural biology scientists tended towards men, who filled most senior roles. In hosting a ‘Women in Science’ workshop at the Instruct-ERIC Biennial Structural Biology Conference in 2019, Instruct-ULTRA aims to give women advice and practical tools to further their career.

4. Structure international outreach
Research in Structural Biology is a collaborative effort which benefits from interchanges between different countries. Instruct-ULTRA has taken the lead in building links with Latin America to promote scientific cooperation (WP3). Experienced gained will be applied to structuring other international outreach.

5 Stimulate engagement with industry
Promoting links with industry is critical for fostering innovation and demonstrating economic impact which in turn will contribute to long-term sustainability. Targeted dissemination efforts (WP5) and pilot projects (WP4) will provide concrete examples of how these services add value to industry and in particular SMEs by providing experience and expertise.

6. Improve exploitation of data
The volume and complexity of data generated in structural biology is increasing exponentially, especially with the expansion into (sub)cellular imaging. Exploiting such data requires efficient workflows for analysis, dissemination and curation. Instruct-ULTRA is exploring and analyzing new ways to organize and share data, to maximise the potential of global life science research.

7. Contribute to a sustainable future
Instruct-ULTRA is supporting work to update and develop the business plan of Instruct-ERIC to articulate the goals of the RI and how these will be achieved in the medium and long term. It will create opportunities for the national and regional economies of current and potential members to benefit from EU Structural Investment Funds.

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