The new alliance of Severo Ochoa centres and María de Maeztu units (SOMMa) was officially launched in October 2017. SOMMa brings together 25 centres and 16 units accredited through these excellence awards and aims to raise the national and international profile of science in Spain, promote the exchange of knowledge, technology and best practices among its members, the international scientific community and main stakeholders, cooperate with other research centres in Spain to strengthen the R&D+i system and have a voice in Spanish and European science policy. This initiative was led by the CRG’s Director, who became the first SOMMa Chair, and was implemented by the ISA team. The alliance’s starting activities comprised the establishment of its own governance, the launching of the website and the organisation of task forces to address the different objectives.
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 support of its International and Scientific Affairs team. This ongoing leadership results in high visibility, a strong reputation and a relevant scientific and innovative output.
FP7/H2020-coordinated projects ongoing or initiated in 2017 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 a new 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.
Additional information on the ongoing collaborative projects led by the CRG is available here.
In addition, the CRG continues to command a strong position in several relevant pan-European infrastructure networks, such as ELIXIR (as part of the Spanish node of the infrastructure), EuroBioImaging (leading one work package in the second preparatory phase and sitting on the interim board), the CORBEL, EXCELERATE and MuG H2020 projects.
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):
- EU-LIFE active in the 2 existing EC stakeholders’ platforms (ERA and Open Science)
- 3 EU-LIFE position papers: (FP9 statement, H2020, FP9 position paper)
- ERC 10 years’ EU-LIFE campaign
- Contribution/Feedback to 8 EC reports
- 3 EC Consultations: H2020 mid-term review; Foresight | Delphi study for FP9 (by invitation); FET FLAGSHIP
- ORION: launching of Open Science H2020 project
- LIBRA Career Development Compass for post-docs implemented (2 workshops)
- LIBRA Recruitment Handbook and workshop; work-life balance workshop
- TedEx Tech Transfer initiative (6 pitches to VC professionals and 4 trainings)
- 3 events to build institutional capacity (Train the Trainer workshop for MSCA applications; making videos in-house for science communication; crisis communication workshop)
- Launching EU-LIFE visiting programme
- EU-LIFE scientific workshop “Principles of homeostasis”
- EU-LIFE signature courses poster and one EU-LIFE symposium (FIMM+CRG)
- Website & newsletter: improved tools for researchers (jobs, funding, science news)
The Core Facilities are members of the Core Facilities Excellence Alliance “Core For Life”, which also includes EMBL (Heidelberg, Germany), VIB (Gent/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.
Through its International and Scientific Affairs team, the CRG explores new global opportunities to attract the most talented researchers, establish scientific collaborations and provide greater exposure for its research. A list of some of the most relevant international actions carried out in 2017 is provided below.
- Coordination of CRG-Novartis-Africa mobility programme: we hosted three new students from South Africa to develop their projects at the CRG’s facilities and laboratories. We are now collaborating with Novartis to guarantee the continuation of the mobility programme.
- Collaboration with the “Mujeres por Africa” Foundation: we hosted the first senior woman scientist supported by the programme “Ellas investigan”. Liz Kizito, head of the Agriculture Department at the Christian University in Uganda, was hosted by the Bioinformatics Core Facility to study the genetic variability of Solanum aethiopicum in Africa. Jointly with the Mujeres por Africa Foundation, we also organised the “Challenges and Opportunities for research in Africa” workshop that stimulated an interesting discussion among the speakers and the numerous attendees.