27. Mar. 2020

CEITEC Masaryk University has succeeded in the prestigious European Horizon 2020 Twinning call. The three-year institutional networking project that supports excellence in science is expected to start in January 2021. It brings CEITEC Masaryk University together with the University of Edinburgh from the UK and three German partners – European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), and the Institute of Molecular Biology, Mainz (IMB). The coordinator of this project is Research Group Leader, Prof. Mary Anne O´Connell from CEITEC MU and six other research groups are involved in the project implementation.

"This project demonstrates our scientific and intuitional strength. We are proud of our RNA research community at CEITEC and we will now have an opportunity to extend strategic collaborations across Europe. And it is quite exceptional that an institute receives a fourth Twinning project in line," added Jiri Nantl, the Director of CEITEC Masaryk University.

Twinning projects stand for institutional networking. The goal of this Twinning project is to further strengthen the RNA community in Brno and the Czech Republic. It links CEITEC MU with four international leading counterparts from Germany and the UK. Scientists from all participating institutes will have the chance to collaborate in joint research, share methodological approaches, discuss important research questions, participate in staff exchanges and expert visits, attend conferences, and jointly participate in highly specialised trainings that support excellence in science. Coordinated dissemination and outreach activities will maximise the overall project impact on the regional, national, and international levels. CEITEC MU is confident that its scientific expertise and collaboration with top European partners will contribute to the establishment of the RNA cluster of excellence in Brno.

"Basis RNA research is very strong at CEITEC and obtaining this Twinning Grant in this field demonstrates our competitiveness.  Our strength lies not only in the diversity of RNA topics studied at CEITEC but also in the great collaborations between different research groups,” added Mary O´Connell, the project coordinator.  

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) plays a central role in all living systems. Ribonucleic acids were fundamental to the origin of life on Earth and are critical for life. They carry genetic information and act as the messengers in implementing gene expression programs. RNA research has yielded many transformative discoveries with enormous impacts on medicine, biotechnology, and agriculture. For example, the discovery of small RNAs and their regulatory role in gene expression has paved the way for new therapeutic interventions in many human diseases. Similarly, emerging genome editing technologies are based on a ribonucleoprotein complex in which a designed RNA molecule permits programming of the CRISPR-Cas9 particle for precise targeting of the desired gene.

The constantly increasing number of scientific papers published in high impact journals proves the growing interest in different aspects of RNA research. While RNA biology is a flourishing field with a great potential for fundamental discoveries, it is also becoming more interdisciplinary and attracts researchers from different disciplines. Solving important questions in the RNA field requires the combination of multiple approaches, ranging from traditional molecular biology, bioinformatics, advanced imaging, biophysics, to structural biology. These technologies are often very demanding, fast-moving, and beyond the capabilities of individual research teams. CEITEC´s RNA researchers are aware of the necessity of collaboration with international teams with different expertise, and this project will enable them to do so.

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