Czech scientist are becoming a part of a European network of centres for structural biology

23. Feb. 2012

Breakthroughs in biomedical science are a step closer today, with the launch of "Instruct", a new European infrastructure in the field of structural biology. The Central European Institute of Technology, Masaryk University (CEITEC MU) is joining the project as the only partner for the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is among the first eight states to establish Instruct. Thanks to this, all Czech scientists within the field of structural biology will be able to use unique technologies and unique facilities in all participating countries. The status of an Instruct affiliated national centre, will be held by the Czech Integrated Infrastructure for Structural Biology, which joins the Structural Biology Laboratories of the CEITEC centre and the Centre of Molecular Structure of the BIOCEV centre. 

“Never before have European biologists had a single point of access to all the technology and expertise they need to further their research. By bringing together the different disciplines, technologies and experts in European biology, Instruct will be helping to make the vision of truly integrated biology a reality for the first time,”said the Instruct Director Prof. Dave Stuart from the Oxford University.

Eight countries in total – Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Great Britain – have signed an agreement establishing the research infrastructure, Instruct today. In this way scientists from participating countries will be able to use the most advanced technologies, such as sample preparation for Cryo-electron tomography using ion beam milling developed at the Max Planck Institute Martinsried in Germany and the automated system for mammalian expression developed at Oxford in the UK. For the Czech Republic, the membership is officially being signed by the Central European Institute of Technology, Masaryk University (CEITEC MU), however the advantages stemming from the membership apply to the whole of the Czech scientific community.

“Thanks to Instruct, we will gain access to unique experiments and methodologies, which will enable mapping of the relationship of molecular structure of important bio macromolecules, such as proteins or nucleic acids, and their function in life organisms. This knowledge is vital for the development of cellular and molecular biology and is applied significantly in the development of new medicines and pharmaceutical substances. We are already taking part in many joint international projects. By the participation of the Czech Republic in the Instruct consortium our position in the science of integrated structural biology is being significantly strengthened,”said Vladimír Sklenář, the Coordinator of the research programme Structural Biology from CEITEC.

Thanks to Instruct, Czech scientists will be able to access the very best technology. Within the cooperation of scientific institutes, which are the European leaders in the field of structural biology, Instruct will enable access to facilities and technologies to academic scientists as well as to commercial entities. In this way, we are entering an exclusive club of leading institutes and experts in the field. The Czech Integrated Infrastructure for Structural Biology (CIISB) provides the Czech scientific community with the possibility of “open access” to the latest technologies and information from the field. CIISB is also in the CZ listed as one of the national biomedical infrastructures and is an excellent illustration of cooperation between newly emerging centres of excellence CEITEC and BIOCEV, which are funded form the Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovations.

„The entry of the Czech Republic into the infrastructure Instruct brings unique possibilities to Czech scientists in the fields of molecular, structural and cellular biology, to whom the access to using the know-how and technologies of top research centres around Europe opens. By means of individual tools it is possible to search for critical points of functions of a life organism and this way understand for example the mechanism of a HIV virus infection or the immune response of a human organism with the emergence of cancer proliferation. Apart from the access to top technologies Instruct also offers the support of education for a generation of young scientist at the highest possible level,” said Dr. Jan Dohnálek, Head of Structural Biology Infrastructure in BIOCEV and the Chairman of the Czech Association for Structural Biology.

INSTRUCT is one of the major European projects of large research infrastructures and is also listed in the ESFRI Roadmap (European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures). It includes priority infrastructure projects, on the implementation of which European countries have agreed.