The EuroBioForum conference in Lisbon, Portugal on 6 and 7 December, organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Commission (EC), with support from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), aimed to bring together researchers and funders to begin the process of establishing ways to create and finance cross-border partnerships in six areas of the life sciences considered to be future research priorities.
Dr Wouter Spek explained the rationale behind EuroBioForum and its parent body, EuroBioFund, of which Dr Spek is director. "This is an initiative of ESF and the EC to initiate and facilitate strategic alliances between public and private sponsors of selected research themes. There is a gap between finance and research and this is one of the main drivers for the establishment of EuroBioFund. We need to cross-link research and finance networks."
The Lisbon meeting was the second EuroBioForum meeting to date. And, as acknowledged by Dr John Marks, chief executive of the ESF, "This is an experiment in a way of defining large-scale science in the life sciences."
During the conference, the six research consortia presented their pioneering research programmes on topics ranging from using systems biology to combat metabolic syndrome, to developing new methods to study brain disorders including addiction, depression and schizophrenia.
One consortium led by Dr. Alain Tedgui of INSERM is proposing to establish a European Vascular Biology Institute (EVBI) - a 'virtual' organisation harnessing expertise across Europe in all aspects of vascular biology in an effort to come up with innovative ways to tackle vascular disease.
"We have accumulated a lot of new information about this complex disease and what we need to do is integrate all this knowledge," Dr. Tedgui said. "Our vision is for a consortium of academic institutions, research and health non-profit bodies and a public-private partnership. We want to pull together all the excellent groups we have that are distributed between several countries."
Another consortium is led by Dr. Bart Sangster, a retired public health expert and former Senior Vice-President of Safety and Environmental Assurance at Unilever, and Professor Jos Kleinjans of Maastricht University in The Netherlands. They have proposed a programme called ASAT - Assuring Safety without Animal Testing. The aim is to take a radical approach towards assessing the risk to human health of chemicals using new advances in science and technology. In this way it might be possible to drastically reduce the numbers of animals used in toxicology tests - around 1 million each year in the EU. Dr. Sangster remarked that "We think that in the future with huge effort and concerted action we can reduce that number considerably".
Prof. José Mariano Gago, the Portugese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education was a keynote speaker at the meeting. He told participants at the conference that it is crucial that any new initiative for collaborative ventures will not replicate existing alliances.
"Across Europe there are a number of organisations in the life sciences - big laboratories doing collaborative, internationally funded work - and it is important that there is clarification between the roles of these institutions," Prof. Gago said. "When people speak about new initiatives in the life sciences, one question that naturally arises is 'what are the other organisations that already exist doing in this area?' From the point of view of governments this is a question that needs to be addressed."
Dr. Patrik Kolar, head of the Genomics and Systems Biology unit of the European Commission's Research Directorate, told the meeting that EuroBioForum was an important way to choose the strategic direction of research in Europe to ensure minimal duplication of effort and reduced fragmentation of research. The EU's Framework research programme encouraged co-operation, Dr Kolar said, "and EuroBioForum is an important part of this."
Thomas Lau | alfa
New Master’s programme: University of Kaiserslautern educates experts in quantum technology
15.03.2017 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy