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Czech Republic Launches $267M Life Sciences and Materials Research Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A new European Union-funded interdisciplinary institute that will house a range of life sciences and materials research officially launched its operations this week in Brno, Czech Republic.

The Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) is being built on a facility that will total 269,000 square feet. It is funded with €200 million ($267.5 million) from the EU's Research and Development for Innovation program.

CEITEC will be built on Brno's Masaryk University campus–Brno Bohunice, and on the Brno University of Technology campus–Pod Plackeho Vrchem. It will eventually house 600 scientists and almost 1,200 students when it is completed in 2014, as well as companies from the Czech Republic and abroad.

The institute will include core facilities for genomics, proteomics, molecular and functional imaging, and structural analysis, as well as nanotechnology, single-crystal X-ray diffraction, crypto-electron microscopy, and tomography. The research will involve a wide range of studies of human molecular medicine, plant biology, and animal health and diseases.

"Our ambition is to become a European Silicon Valley in the fields of science and research and the CEITEC center surely belongs to significant projects on the journey back towards the world's elite," the Czech Republic's First Deputy and Minister of Education Jakub Hodinár said in a statement.

CEITEC's researchers will pursue a variety of programs, such as using plant systems as renewable sources of materials and compounds, studying the genesis and spread of diseases and developing diagnostics and treatments, using information and communication technologies for biomedicine, and developing advances materials and nanostructures for a range of applications.

Masaryk University's academic partners on CEITEC include the Brno University of Technology, Mendel University, the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and the Veterinary Research Institute.

CEITEC's genomics core facility will be stocked with tools for conducting complete experimental workflows, from sample preparation to genome and transcriptome analysis. Those tools will include high-throughput massively parallel sequencers, microarray systems, real-time microfluidic PCR capabilities, a cellular analysis system, and cell sorting technologies.

The proteomics core will cover all the steps of proteomic analysis and will house hybrid, high-resolution, and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometers and bioinformatic data processing systems.

The center also will host a plant genomics and proteomics program that will focus on studies of plant evolution, including research into genome, karyotype, and chromosome evolution, hormone regulation, epigenetic regulation, bacterial metabolomics, and plant development and stress response studies.

The molecular medicine program will use a broad array of genome analysis approaches to map genetic defects in cancer cells, develop new therapeutic approaches, apply high-throughput analyses of the human genome in predictive biology, develop molecular genetic diagnostics tools, and apply DNA sequencing to analyze small and experimental samples.

CEITEC's molecular veterinary medicine program will use genomic, proteomic, and bioinformatic approaches to analyze the causes of infectious diseases in domestic animals and the prevention of pathogens in the food chain, to study host genomics and genetics in infections and reproduction, and to conduct research into animal models of mammalian reproduction.

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