BIO-IMAGINE changes the image of Warsaw biology
New ideas in the study of cells, brain and cancer; cooperation with leading scientists and scientific institutions around the world and the equipment allowing for better imaging of tissues and cells – these are the effects of the EU FP7 BIO-IMAGINE Project implemented by the Nencki Institute in Warsaw.
Scientific ideas develop effectively only in favorable, creative and open atmosphere, which guarantees free transfer of knowledge between the world’s most prominent experts, and research unfettered with infrastructural constraints. Setting up optimal conditions for creative scientific activity was the main task of the prestigious European Project BIO-IMAGINE, carried out by the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.
“More than three years ago, when we started the BIO-IMAGINE Project, the aim was to significantly strengthen our research capacity as a national center of excellence in the field of bioimaging, and to improve the image of the Nencki Institute in Europe and worldwide. We believe – and so does the BIO-IMAGINE International Advisory Board – that the task was achieved perfectly”, says Prof. Adam Szewczyk, the Director of the Nencki Institute and the Coordinator of the Project.
Significant support to the scientific potential of the Nencki Institute, achieved thanks to BIO-IMAGINE, was the attraction of more than a dozen high-class specialists who are at an early stage of their career development. After the completion of the project and verification of the merits, nine of them found employment at the Institute. Good personnel decisions allowed the Institute to expand existing research topics and scientific cooperation with other research centers. An excellent example is the construction of a high resolution optical microscope, carried out in collaboration with the group of Prof. Maciej Wojtkowski from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland.
“We organized three major international conferences with the Nobel Prize winners as the speakers. We also prepared three symposia and nine workshops on microscopic imaging and cytometry. Tens to hundreds of scientists from Poland and all over the world participated in each of these events”, lists Marta Rucińska, the BIO-IMAGINE Project Manager at the Nencki Institute.
Within the framework of BIO-IMAGINE twinning activities (i.e. cooperation with leading institutions in the field), the researchers from the Nencki Institute had a chance to deepen their knowledge of the interactions between proteins, the role of the spatial structure of chromosomes in the regulation of gene expression, structure and functioning of mitochondria and cilia ion channels in cells, and a number of issues in the field of neuroscience and fMRI imaging. The Nencki Institute developed or strengthened cooperation with scientific institutions from several countries, including such well-known centres as the German Max-Planck-Institut für Genetik und Molekulare Zellbiologie, the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, or the British University of Cambridge.
During the project, dozens of domestic and foreign experts conducted workshops and seminars for scientists running companies, or intending to do so in the nearest future. Issues related to innovative research, creative research teams building or methods of developing or strengthening cooperation between science and business in Polish conditions were discussed during the workshops. Cooperation with six companies was inaugurated during the project lifetime. It included projects related to the production of innovative cosmetics, antibacterial and anti-cancer therapy, as well as the treatment of brain tumors and speech defects.
Although BIO-IMAGINE was not a research project, purchase of modern scientific equipment played an important role. In the Laboratory of Imaging Tissue Structure and Function of the Neurobiology Center a modern Zeiss/Yokogawa confocal spinning disc microscope was installed, allowing for, among others, imaging of fast processes in living cells. At the same time, a Guava easyCyte 8HT flow cytometer was purchased for the Laboratory of Cytometry. The equipment purchased and installed as part of the BIO-IMAGINE Project has been extensively used for many months for the study of brain plasticity, long-term memory, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson diseases, as well as the search for cancer therapy and diagnosis of diseases of the endothelium. Apart from the Nencki Institute researchers, the access to equipment has also been granted to the research groups from other centers and to external stakeholders.
The EU financial contribution to the BIO-IMAGINE project allowed the Nencki Institute to get involved more actively in a number of activities related to the promotion of science. The Nencki Institute brand name was created and popularized. Well-known popular scientific events, such as the Brain Awareness Week, the Scientific Picnic of the Polish Radio and the Copernicus Science Centre or the Warsaw Festival of Science were coorganized by the Nencki Institute. Many open days for students and future PhD students were also organized, as well as workshops for biology teachers. The total number of participants in these events amounted to almost 20 thousand. The efforts to popularize science were recognized by the Polish Press Agency, which in 2013 honored the Nencki Institute with the title of the Science Populariser.
BIO-IMAGINE project (Bio-IMAGing in research INnovation and Education) was funded under the “Capacities” Specific Programme of the European Union 7th Framework Programme.
The Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences has been established in 1918 and is the largest non-university centre for biological research in Poland. Priority fields for the Institute include neurobiology, neurophysiology, cellular biology and biochemistry and molecular biology – at the level of complexity from tissue organisms through cellular organelles to proteins and genes. There are 31 labs at the Institute, among them modern Laboratory of Confocal Microscopy, Laboratory of Cytometry, Laboratory of Electron Microscopy, Behavioural and Electrophysiological Tests. The Institute is equipped with state-of-the-art research equipment and modernized animal house, where lab animals are bred, also transgenic animals, in accordance with the highest standards. Quality of experiments, publications and close ties with the international science community, place the Institute among the leading biological research centres in Europe.
Prof. Adam Szewczyk
BIO-IMAGINE Project Coordinator
Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology
tel. +48 22 5892207
BIO-IMAGINE Project Manager
Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology
tel. +48 22 5892330
The website of the BIO-IMAGINE project.
The official website of the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw.
Press service of the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw.
BIO-IMAGINE project strengthened the research potential of the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw as a national center of excellence in the field of bioimaging. The collage contains images of cells and tissues taken using equipment purchased under the project. (Source: Nencki Institute)
The Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. (Source: Anna Mirgos, Nencki Institute)