The new alliance of Severo Ochoa centres and María de Maeztu units (SOMMa) was officially launched in October 2017 and consolidated in the course of 2018. SOMMa brings together 25 centres and 23 units accredited through these excellence awards. The alliance aims to: 1) raise the national and international profile of science in Spain; 2) promote the exchange of knowledge, technology and best practices among its members, the international scientific community and main stakeholders; 3) cooperate with other research centres in Spain to strengthen the R&D+i system and 4) have a voice in Spanish and European science policy. The CRG’s Director spearheaded this initiative and became the first SOMMa Chair with the support of the International and Scientific Affairs team. In 2018, the alliance’s activities focused on influencing Spanish science policy to safeguard the competitiveness of Spanish science, promoting the visibility of centres and units of excellence and reaching out to society through the organisation of the third edition of the 100xCiencia conference (Madrid, 15th November).
Leading collaborative research and training networks
The CRG is leading several collaborative research and training networks funded by the European Commission Framework Programmes thanks to its excellent research effort and the dedicated expertise of its International and Scientific Affairs team. This ongoing leadership results in high visibility, a strong reputation and a relevant and innovative scientific output.
FP7/H2020-coordinated projects either ongoing or initiated in 2018 include:
- MycoSynVac: Coordinated by Luis Serrano.
- OPATHY: Coordinated by Toni Gabaldón. This is a training network involving 13 Early-Stage Researchers to be hosted at 11 institutions in 7 European countries.
- LIBRA: Coordinated by Isabelle Vernos. This is the milestone project to implement gender-equality actions in EU-LIFE research institutes.
- MiniCell: Coordinated by Luis Serrano.
- CellViewer: Coordinated by Pia Cosma.
- DivIDE: Coordinated by Isabelle Vernos. This is another training network involving 11 Early-Stage Researchers to be hosted at 9 institutions in 7 European countries.
- ORION: Coordinated by Michela Bertero. This is an initiative to promote institutional changes in research funding and performing organisations to make them more receptive to societal needs and to embrace the principles of Open Science.
- Hermes SR: Coordinated by Pia Cosma. This is a FET launch-pad project to promote the commercialisation of FET-project-derived results.
- ChromDesign: Coordinated by Luciano di Croce. This is another training network involving 13 Early-Stage Researchers to be hosted at 11 institutions in 7 European countries.
Additional information on the ongoing collaborative projects led by the CRG is available here.
In addition, the CRG continues to hold a strong position in several relevant pan-European infrastructure networks, such as ELIXIR (as part of the Spanish node of the infrastructure and as partner in the EXCELERATE project), EuroBioImaging (leading one work package in the second preparatory phase and sitting on the interim board), CORBEL, EOSC Pilot, and MuG H2020 projects. In 2018, the CRG obtained two additional grants for infrastructure projects: as a partner in EPIC-XS and as a coordinator in EASI-Genomics.
EU-LIFE, the European Life Sciences Institutes for Excellence, is a key initiative chaired by the CRG to promote excellence in research, strengthen integration among European research institutes in life sciences and develop and share best practices in research, research management and training. Several CRG members are actively participating in EU-LIFE working groups, and this participation yielded the following important outputs (among others) in 2018:
- EU-LIFE active in EC stakeholders’ platforms: ERA and Open Science Policy (OSPP).
- Four EU-LIFE statements papers: Horizon Europe budget; Horizon Europe missions; Call for action research infrastructures; Reaction to Plan S (the letter spearheaded by the CRG).
- Three European Commission’s Consultations: Multi-Annual Financial Framework, Missions, European Health Council.
- Four contributions to EC reports on Open Science and the European Research Area: OSPP general recommendations to EU Council, new metrics for research evaluation, citizen science, ERA stakeholders’ platform monitoring.
- LIBRA Workshop on sex and gender dimension in research.
- Initiatives to build institutional capacity (impact workshop, document to support MSCA applicants).
- Sustainability of gender actions @EU-LIFE: task force and sustainability design plan.
- TedEx Tech Transfer initiative (5 pitches of researchers to VC professionals).
- EU-LIFE scientific workshop on “Precision Medicine” (May, Paris).
- Renewed EU-LIFE mission statement.
The Core Facilities are members of the Core Facilities Excellence Alliance “Core For Life”, which also includes EMBL (Heidelberg, Germany), VIB (Ghent/Leuven, Belgium), MPI-CBG (Dresden, Germany), VBCF (Vienna, Austria) and the FGCZ (Zurich, Switzerland). Core For Life aims at sharing and consolidating procedures, joining efforts in personnel training and technology validation and sharing access to facilities across institutes.
With the support of the International and Scientific Affairs team, the CRG explores new global opportunities, carries out diverse initiatives to attract the most talented researchers and establishes scientific collaborations and networks. The most relevant international actions carried out in 2018 are described below.
We continued our collaboration with the “Mujeres por Africa” Foundation. We hosted the second senior woman scientist supported by the “Ellas investigan” programme. Raquel Duarte, associate professor at Wits University in Johannesburg, collaborated with Juan Valcarcel’s laboratory to characterize the splicing and transcriptional regulatory system of the Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 2 gene in breast cancer.
The CRG is participating in a new collaborative project coordinated by the Pasteur Institute in Tunisia (IPT), called PHINDaccess (awarded under the H2020 Twinning scheme). The project aims to boost IPT capabilities in advanced OMICS analysis to tackle infectious diseases and disentangle host-pathogen interactions. The project started in November 2018, and the CRG will contribute on different levels, exchanging good practice in data and computation infrastructure, providing training and mentoring, fostering new scientific collaborations and exchanging good practice in science communication, fund-raising and technology transfer.
To consolidate the collaboration with the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH) in China, one of the CRG senior PIs, Maria Pia Cosma, now has a joint appointment with the GIBH in the areas of regenerative medicine and super-resolution microscopy.