Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FP7 – European money for science and society

Following on from INFOBIOMED's European recognition, let me tell you what I have recently learned about European funding for science.

Last Monday I went to an informative session to find out about the possibilities of getting funding from the FP7 (short for 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development) from the European Union (EU). For those of you who are not familiar with this, this is the EU's main instrument for funding research in Europe. It gives funding for things like improving training and career development of researchers, specific projects and ideas (projects must generally involve groups from different countries or have a European projection), or infrastructures.

The Framework Programmes are usually renewed every 3 years, but this one, the 7th, will run for longer: from 2007-2013. Another novelty of this year’s programme (well, it seems it started last year, but this year it’s more consolidated) is that there’s a specific funding for the area “Science and Society”. This is aimed at bridging the gap between science professionals and those without a formal science education and at promoting a taste for scientific culture in the general public – just what I am trying to do here at the PRBB! This area alone counts with a budget of € 330 million for the seven years. (Actually, the general budget of the FP7 has increased significantly since FP6, from 4 to 7 billion €/year, which is good news!)

The next call for proposals, we have been told, is starting this same week, and we will have until next spring to present our ideas, which should be on one of the topics that will be open for proposals (not all topics are covered each year). Some of the initiatives that could be funded by the area of Science and Society, for example, include projects aimed at triggering the curiosity of young people for science and at reinforcing science education at all levels. Or they could be related to the role of women in science and how to improve gender issues. Oscar López Lorente, one of the Spanish national Contact Points for Science in Society, also explained to us that the encouragement of societal dialogue on research policy is another key issue, and that the FP7 wants to stimulate both the media and civil society organisations (including charities) to become more involved in research, debating and promoting shared values, equal opportunities and societal dialogue.

So, it seems there’s an opportunity for us all to work together making science a powerful tool for the improvement of our society. Anyone want to join? I’m ‘open for proposals’.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

European recognition

I have just been informed that a project coordinated by the GRIB (the Research Unit on Biomedical Informatics of the PRBB) has been selected Project of the Month (October 2007) by the European Commission. My congratulations to all the people involved!

The GRIB is a mixed unit, formed by groups belonging to two of the centres located at the PRBB: the IMIM and the CEXS-UPF.

The project, INFOBIOMED, is a European network of excellence (NoE) which has lasted 42 months (ending in June 2007) and which had its final review in Brussels last 28th of September. The excellent results of the review have prompted the award.

The aim of INFOBIOMED was to consolidate European Biomedical Informatics (BMI) as an emerging integrative discipline born from the close collaboration between Bioinformatics (BI) and Medical Informatics (MI). Their synergy should foster individualized healthcare and facilitate the discovery of novel diagnostic and therapeutic methods.

Some of the network achievements, with the support of their € 4.850.000 budget, include the International Symposium on BMI in Europe that they organised at the PRBB last June, and an European BMI Gateway (a repository with information and the latest news on BMI in Europe) that they have created.

Although the EC funding for the NoE is officially ended, the INFOBIOMED Consortium has already committed to continue developing activities addressed to the BMI community in order to set a durable structure to enable collaborative research and to support the consolidation of BMI as a crucial scientific discipline for future healthcare. If you are a researcher in the BI, MI or BMI fields, please do join the initiative to contribute to the consolidation and development of a BMI research capacity in Europe!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Web of Knowledge workshop in Barcelona

Hi there, hope you had a good weekend. Here's another interesting thing coming up soon at the PRBB.

You may know that in Spain, all research centres, universities and hospitals have free access to the Web of Knowledge through the FECYT (Spanish foundation for science and technology).

The Web of Knowledge is something all scientists are (or should be) familiar with. It is a dynamic, integrated environment that provides them with one single source for high quality scientific content and the tools to access, analyze, and manage research information (articles from scientific journals, books, patents, etc.) - an essential task for researchers.

The Web of knowledge is due to start a new interface next January 1st, 2008. The FECYT is organising two formative sessions in Barcelona to explain the use of the Web of Knowledge databases and its new interface. One of the sessions will take place at the PRBB conference hall on Tuesday, November 13th, from 10am to 1,30pm. The previous day at the same time there will be another session at the conference hall of the ‘Edifici de França’ of the UPF (Estació de França).

If you are around and interested in learning more about the Web of Knowledge, please reserve a place by sending an email to

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sunday 28th: science and the public at PRBB

Good morning,

If you are in Barcelona this weekend and you are interested in science communication to the public, you probably are interested in this.

This Sunday October 28th, an interactive EMBO Science & Society Session on how to communicate controversial scientific topics will be held at the PRBB Auditorium. This session is entitled “Dealing with difficult topics in public: A communication workshop on controversial issues in science” and will go on from 5pm to 7:30pm. Entrance is free and the session is open to both scientists and the general public.

Louis-Marie Houdebine (Institut National de le Recherche Agronomique, Paris), creator of Alba, the "glowing" rabbit, teams up with award-winning documentary maker, Eric May in this session which will count with presentations, discussion, exercises and practical advice on communicating research and "managing" research communication outside scientific circles.

This session is part of the EMBO Members Workshop entitled “Frontiers of Molecular Biology” that is being held in Barcelona this weekend (October 26-29), and which has been organised by two researchers at the PRBB, Juan Valcárcel (CRG) and Francesc Posas (CEXS-UPF), together with two other EMBO members from Barcelona.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Welcome to prbbnews!

This is my personal blog about what's going on at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB), one of the largest biomedical research clusters in Southern Europe. The PRBB is located in Barcelona, and it gathers together six public research centres:

-Municipal Institute of Medical Research (IMIM)

-Department of Experimental and Health Sciences of the Pompeu Fabra University (CEXS-UPF)

-Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG)

-Centre of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMRB)

-Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL)

-Institute of Advanced Technology (IAT)

This large scientific infrastructure that is also physically connected to the ‘Hospital del Mar de Barcelona’, a public hospital.

Here you will find some news of what is happening at the PRBB bulding, both scientifically and socially. I will also include some news or commentaries on communication and society that I think might be of interest to people - always related to science. Please note that although I work at the PRBB and this blog is mostly about it, these are after all my personal views and opinions, and not those of the PRBB.

Do come and visit often to get some of the latest news, and know that your comments will always be welcome!

See you again soon!