The health and environmental protection research program building on the previous results of the researchers of the ELKH Szeged Biological Research Center (BRC) implemented with EU funding of approximately HUF 2 billion was completed on March 30, 2021. The GINOP project “Molecular Biology Research Workshop for Health and the Environment: Research to Meet Societal Needs to Enhance the International Competitiveness of the Center of Excellence” involved 33 research groups from four institutes of the research center – the institutes of Biophysics, Biochemistry, Genetics and Plant Biology – and was implemented with the additional participation of the BRC Central Laboratories.
The aim of the program was to research the foundations of unsolved problems at the societal level affecting Hungarian health and the environment. These include the spread of infectious diseases, the development of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains, the development of malignancies, general health problems associated with aging, and environmental protection.
The four-and-a-half-year project was built on three pillars. As part of the first pillar, researchers conducted single-cell research as part of their efforts to combat infectious and genetic diseases. As part of the second pillar, the molecular background of individual development, regeneration, and aging was investigated by researchers in animal model organisms, cell cultures, and artificial tissue models. Projects within the third pillar have analyzed the complex interactions between light and plant systems. Though the priorities of each pillar were different, a number of synergies emerged between the individual programs in terms of both molecular biology problem solving and the methodological approach used.
Thanks to the grant support, significant progress has been made in terms of both the scientific findings and postgraduate training. Many of the fundamental research findings of the project have been reported by researchers in the most prestigious journals in the relevant disciplines. This means that there is now documented evidence that the original goal of the program, “to enhance the international competitiveness of the Center of Excellence“, has been achieved. Since the beginning of the program, the performance of BRC publications, measured in aggregate impact factors, has increased by a factor of 1.5.