21. Mar. 2023

Minister for Science, Research and Innovation Helena Langsadlova visited the Central European Institute of Technology of Masaryk University (CEITEC MUNI) during her working trip to the opening ceremony of the sixth edition of the Days of Electron Microscopy (DEM) in Brno. Electron microscopy is a modern and very powerful imaging technology that is used in a wide range of scientific disciplines, including biomedicine. This technology is also indispensable for scientists at CEITEC MUNI. Minister Langsadlova debated with representatives of the CEITEC MUNI management about excellent research and its funding, the transfer of research results into practice and the research questions of the 21st century.

During her visit, Helena Langsadlova stressed the importance of supporting excellent research that addresses priority research topics and providing solutions to current global issues. During her visit, the Minister saw for herself a unique model of cryo-electron microscope called Titan Krios, worth more than 150 million Czech Crowns. "Our scientists solved the structure of several previously unknown viruses thanks to this microscope and their unique expertise is highly recognised in the international virology community," said Jiri Nantl, director of CEITEC MUNI. In addition to viruses, CEITEC MUNI virologists use electron microscopy to study bacteriophages. Bacteriophages are special types of viruses that are natural predators of bacteria and may serve as potential therapeutic agents against antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the future.

"Brno is one of the world's three electron microscopy centres, and more than a third of all electron microscopes in the world come from Brno. In addition to domestic research centres, electron microscopes made in Brno are used by NASA and Harvard University, for example. The high concentration of top electron microscopy experts in the Brno region and the availability of the latest technologies is a huge advantage that helps us to maintain our international competitiveness," said Jiri Nantl.

Research on viruses and bacteria is not the only topic in which CEITEC MUNI excels and which is absolutely crucial for the future of our society. In addition to virology research, scientists here are also involved in plant research, which can lead to the development of more resistant crop varieties that are able to better withstand stress, pests and diseases. "The new knowledge we discover on model plants using our state-of-the-art technologies today will help increase food production and improve food security for people around the world in the future," explained plant biologist and deputy director for science Karel Riha.

Another important topic during the visit was the transfer of basic research results into practice. The Minister expressed her great respect for basic research and stressed out the importance of developing a culture of technology transfer at Czech research institutions to put more results into practice. "It is necessary to build in scientific institutions an environement that is sufficiently motivated to engage in the transfer of scientific knowledge into practice. CEITEC MUNI is a good example of how to build such an environment," said Minister Helena Langsadlova.

"For several years now, our institute has employed a technology scout, whose task is to identify results with application potential, which are then developed with the help of experts from the Centre for Technology Transfer at Masaryk University. Although technology transfer in the biomedical field is very complex, we have managed to establish several spin-off companies in the short time we have been in existence," said Jiri Nantl

The main mission of CEITEC MUNI is to deliver research results that lead to improving the quality of life and human health. So far, the research centre has been very successful in fulfilling this mission. However, excellent research requires long-term support and appropriate complementary grant funding models for scientists at different career levels. During her visit, Minister Langsadlova promised to try to create appropriate conditions for excellent and socially relevant research in the Czech Republic. A type of research that is characteristic for a Centre of Excellence such as CEITEC MUNI.

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