Scientistits fromfive elite national health research institutes will join forces. The aim is to establish scientific cooperation between disciplines that do not normally work together in this way. The forms of mutual cooperation were presented today at the Annual Conference of the National Institute for Neurological Research in Brno.

The National Research Institutes are a novelty in the Czech Republic; they were established in the middle of last year to bring together the best scientists in the field and to create a systemic support for state administration bodies, which they are supposed to serve as an expert and advisory base. Building trust and communication with the general public is also key, as is streamlining the transfer of science and research results as close as possible to clinical practice and the general public. It is a transfer of a proven model, inspired by overseas experience, which underwent a series of challenges and modifications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scientists from the National Institute of Virology and Bacteriology (NIVB), the National Institute of Neurological Research (NINR), the National Cancer Institute (NICR), the National Institute for Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease Research (CarDia), and the National Institute for Socioeconomic Impacts of Disease and Systemic Risk Research (SYRI) will collaborate on research top This cooperation will allow common scientific themes to be identified and will reduce administration and improve communication with the state administration.

The National Institute for Neurological Research aims to meet the medical and societal challenges associated with the dramatic aging of the population. “The main topic we are focusing on in this phase of the project is the issue of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. However, neurodegenerative processes are also important for many other neurological diseases, including neurodevelopmental diseases, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis,” specified the director of NINR, Prof. Milan Brázdil. The first results of the collaborative research conducted by scientists from eleven institutions under the NINR umbrella were also presented at the annual conference.

According to Pavel Plevka from the NIVB, one of the goals of the collaboration between scientists from different fields is not only to increase public awareness and thus the health literacy of the population with regard to the spread of epidemics, but also to develop specific anti-epidemic and anti-pandemic intervention strategies tailored to the needs of individual population groups. “Interesting topics for cooperation are also the dismal situation in the development of antibiotic resistance or the impact of the behaviour of various risk groups on the incidence of certain infectious diseases,” says Plevka.

The NICR will also be involved in the cooperation. “The networking of teams from basic to clinical research, the combination of chemistry, biology and medicine, the communication between clinical and academic departments and the incredible range of specialisations of our scientists create an unprecedented research space,” said the Director of the National Research Institute of Biology, Prof. Aleksi Šedo. Aleksi Šedo, adding that national institutes have an extraordinary potential to expand international cooperation: “In May this year, the NCIR signed an agreement to collaborate on cancer biology research with Harvard Medical School’s ‘premier’ cancer centre – the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, USA. This cooperation is important not only for the actual scientific work of our national institutes, but also for inspiration in many other areas, such as the exchange of good practices in project organisation and management processes, the expansion of networking opportunities or the mobility of PhD students and postdocs.

“The aim of CarDia is to help reduce the prevalence of obesity, diabetes 2. type and cardiovascular complications, which are still the most common cause of mortality in the Czech Republic,” says scientific coordinator of the CarDia project Martin Haluzík from IKEM. “Already after the first year of the project, a close link between clinical and experimental research has been established, and thanks to the financial support, Czech scientists returning from prestigious medical institutions such as the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, USA, and many others are joining the project, thus deepening the involvement of the CarDia project in international research”.

All five elite national institutes are linked by funding from the National Recovery Plan-funded EXCELES project. “All EXCELES projects are built on the idea of collaboration between excellent scientists across different institutions. We are currently trying to go even further in connecting researchers and building multidisciplinary collaborations across these projects. Social scientists will thus collaborate with medical experts. It is these types of collaborations that are proving to be the most progressive in contemporary science,” said Prof. Klára Šeďová, Scientific Director of SYRI National Institute.

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