16. Jan. 2020

CEITEC Masaryk University is proud to announce that Junior Research Group Leader, Panagiotis Alexiou, has been selected, along with eight other life scientists, to receive the EMBO Installation Grant, which will support him in the establishment of his independent laboratory at the Central European Institute of Technology at Masaryk University (CEITEC MU) in Brno, Czech Republic. Peter Draber from BIOCEV was the other recipient of the grant in the Czech Republic. The remaining seven grants will go to researchers in Poland, Portugal, and Turkey. The EMBO Installation Grants promote the international mobility of scientists. Their purpose is to encourage young Research Group Leaders to establish their laboratories in countries that find it difficult to compete scientifically with large, well-funded research centres. Dr. Alexiou´s success in the EMBO Installation Grant highlights CEITEC MU´s modern HR Strategy that managed to attract a young foreign scientist, who is demonstrating his ability to conduct outstanding scientific research. Panagiotis Alexiou is a bioinformatician and develops novel machine learning technologies applicable in biomedicine.

Panagiotis Alexiou, originally from Greece, was recruited in January 2018 as a Research Group Leader and Head of the Bioinformatics Core Facility. Before joining CEITEC MU, Panagiotis worked as a Research Associate at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, with a focus on the bioinformatic analysis of high throughput sequencing data for various RNA binding proteins. He was recruited in an open international competition, with the aim of complementing the research topics portfolio at CEITEC MU. His aim at CEITEC MU is to combine his previously gained research experience with novel technological advancements in the field of machine learning. “We are proud to have Panagiotis, who is an extremely valuable member of the CEITEC community. He has a great potential of connecting our research groups, and is instrumental in lecturing and upskilling our researchers and students in the most in-demand area of bioinformatics. We are very happy that we managed to attract such an outstanding and proactive scientist to our institute,” said Jiří Nantl, Director of CEITEC MU.

The EMBO Installation Grant supplements the budget of the receiving group for three to five years, but most importantly, grantees become part of the EMBO Young Investigator Network, through which they gain access to a wide range of training and networking opportunities. "This grant not only ensures the financial stability of our lab during these crucial first years, but also introduces our work to the elite of European researchers through access to the Young Investigator and Installation Grantee Network. I hope that it will allow my lab to cultivate scientific collaborations with a wider scope, and increase visibility of our hard work," added Panagiotis.

Main Research Themes

The research themes explored with this grant cover the identification and elucidation of genomic and transcriptomic functional elements, such as promoters, transcripts, protein-binding sites, with the use of cutting edge machine learning techniques. The interpretation of complex biological phenomena under the lens of machine learning and artificial neural networks is at the core of the research performed in the lab. The big data revolution in experimental biology dovetails with advances in machine learning, creating unprecedented research opportunities. “I am convinced that the rapid increase in high-throughput experimental data can be smartly harnessed by the use of machine learning technologies,” stated Panagiotis.

He proposes research that is interdisciplinary at its core, and has been continuously enriching his team by selecting personnel coming from biological, computational, and mathematical backgrounds. “We are cultivating a new type of scientist, with a strong base in data science, as well as genomics. We are able to deeply understand both biological phenomena, as well as algorithms. We are also capable of bridging scientific fields, from theoretical informatics, to applied medical applications. With this grant, we are looking forward to new opportunities for international collaborations and the opportunity to apply new technologies to the most important contemporary research questions,” added Panagiotis.

About EMBO

EMBO is an organisation of more than 1 800 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond. The major goals of the organisation are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information, and help to build a research environment where scientists can achieve their best work.

EMBO helps young scientists to advance their research, promote their international reputations, and ensure their mobility. Courses, workshops, conferences, and scientific journals disseminate the latest research and offer training in techniques to maintain high standards of excellence in research practice. EMBO helps to shape science and research policy by seeking input and feedback from our community and by closely following the trends in science in Europe. More information about the programme is available here.

Author: Ester Jarour



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