Broad-spectrum biological research driven by record-breaking grants
Synapse dynamics and their role in learning and memory, epilepsy, ion channels in mitochondria, as well as questions dealing with ageing both in individual cells and the entire brain. In the immediate future our knowledge of these and many other topics in biology will increase considerably, thanks to grants from the National Science Centre, awarded in record amounts and numbers to the Nencki Institute in Warsaw, recently also bestowed with the A+ category.
Soon, the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw, Poland, will begin a new series of research projects on the fundamental questions of biology, particularly in molecular biology and neurobiology. The realization of these ambitious research endeavors will be enabled by grants from the Polish National Science Centre (NCN). Only within the last three (out of a total of ten) funding perspectives by the NCN, scientists at the Nencki Institute managed to obtain financing for 23 projects. This is the largest number of NCN grants received by a single institution in the newest editions of the OPUS, PRELUDIUM and SONATA streams.
“Among the national life science research institutes, we are one of the few awarded the highest rating category of A+. The record number of prestigious grants awarded to us recently by the National Science Centre very clearly confirms the high quality of our science”, stated Prof. Adam Szewczyk, the director of the Nencki Institute.
The variety of the research projects being initiated is very rich. Nencki scientists are looking at the maturation and stabilization of cell structures in synapses, as well as their significance in learning and memory. They will be examining brain plasticity, both under natural conditions, as well as that connected with ageing, epileptic seizures, and will attempt to find better methods of detecting sources of epilepsy in the brain. They will soon begin mapping areas of the brain responsible for positive and negative memories. Efforts are also being initiated on a set of exercises increasing the mental agility of seniors. A number of scientists are beginning research on tumour development, including gliomas, and another group will look at phenomena responsible for the regulation of potassium channel functioning in mitochondria. The work undertaken will also include efforts to design a transgenic possum, due to which it will be easier to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in neuronal development.
Grants received as part of the OPUS program will allow biologists, physicists and chemists from the Nencki Institute not only to finance their own research, but also to expand the research infrastructure necessary for carrying out new projects.
The scientific development of the Institute will particularly benefit from the PRELUDIUM and SONATA funding, because these are dedicated for people at the outset of their scientific career: PhD student and freshly-minted postdoctoral fellows. Among these projects, we will realize research on the attenuation of fear memory, neuronal correlates of consciousness, developmental dyslexia as well as attention span processes in diagnosed ADHD cases. A series of grants also encompasses the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underpinning biological systems at various level of organization. This research will deepen our knowledge of the activities of single organelles (such as nuclei and mitochondria), intercellular communication phenomena as well as methods of partial (cardiac muscle) and whole (pancreas) organ functioning.
From the time the National Science Centre was founded, the Nencki Institute is consistently found in the very forefront of grant acquisition rankings. Competing not only with other research institutes, but also against university and polytechnic faculties, in NCN competitions from the years 2013-14, the Nencki Institute took first place in terms of the amount of financing bestowed, and second place in terms of the number of grants awarded among all research institutions in Poland. The NCN positively evaluated 56 grant applications from the Institute, with a joint value of 43.7 million PLN.
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
Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology
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The Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw, Poland, will begin a new series of research projects on the fundamental questions in molecular biology and neurobiology. (Source: Nencki Institute, Grzegorz Krzyżewski)