13. 5. 2020 |

The pun in the introduction may seem inappropriate, but it has its justification. It relates to a project with a same name - To Pea, or not to Pea… Hamlet's call was modified to refer to the pea plant, which is inseparably linked with Gregor Johann Mendel, the father of genetics.

The aim of the project To Pea or not to Pea… is to popularize science through the legacy of Gregor Johann Mendel and is organized with the support of the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne's University Hospital Brno (FNUSA-ICRC) and the Mendel Museum of Masaryk University. The idea is simple - a competition in growing peas.

"The project should connect personalities from the academic and scientific world with the help of one of the biggest motivators - natural competition," said the project organizer Mgr. Martina Petříková. "We will distribute peas all over the world and participants will compete in whose pea plant grows the best." The voting of participants and the public will be included, as well as a special Facebook page.

The database of participants is relatively wide and covers literally the whole world. "The vast majority of foreign academics or scientists who came to visit us in Brno had an enormous interest in the personality of Gregor Johann Mendel. He is a truly global celebrity in the world of science, "added Martina Petříková. "The initial impulse for this project was a friendly quarrel between three Italian scientists over a pea seeds, which were received as a gift. They started growing plants once they got back to the lab and share their achievements with me."

The To Pea or not to Pea… project will take place several times a year and the organizers believe in success and continuation in the future. "We would like to invite the best participants to Brno for both science and fun – to give a lecture especially to our young scientists and visit places connected with Mendel's life," added Mgr. Blanka Křížová, director of the Mendel Museum of Masaryk University. "Our aim is to present the city of Brno as a university, scientific and vibrant city."


7. 5. 2020 |

St. Anne's University Hospital Brno was selected as one of two hospitals in the Czech Republic for the care of patients with severe COVID-19. This is also related to a number of measures that had to be implemented in the hospital. From closing several entrances to a special regime in individual departments.

The International Clinical Research Center of FNUSA came up with a method that could help return to normal and calm future hospital visitors. This involves testing various surfaces for the presence of coronavirus. "From the information we know so far, the coronavirus can last for different times on different surfaces. We want to verify this in practice, we plan to test the exposed areas in the hospital once and find out their possible contamination, " said Giancarlo Forte, head of Center for Translational Medicine and Vice Chair of FNUSA-ICRC.

The data obtained from this research should be decisive for further safety recommendations. Among the selected surfaces are, for example, handles or buttons in elevators, ie places whose potential danger is not even realized. "Given the Czech Republic's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, I do not anticipate any infestations. However, even in that case, we will get a clear answer that could reassure the hospital's patients, "added Giancarlo Forte.


5. 5. 2020 |

The International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne's University Hospital Brno actively participated in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic also by testing face masks. Due to the situation in Italy, where it was difficult to find free capacity for tests for certification, the face masks of the Italian manufacturer were tested in Brno.

Until recently, MODA Impresa s.r.l. sewed accessories for world brands Dolce Gabbana, Versace, Ferré and others. After the beginning of the pandemic, company quickly reorganized production and began producing face masks for paramedics. But the problem was with their certification for use in hospitals. Laboratories in Italy were fully occupied to test patients, and it was not possible to carry out certification tests at universities either. Thanks to good contacts in Italy, specifically at the University of Florence, face masks soon reached Brno.

Our laboratories at Biopark proved to be the most suitable, so testing could begin. "We mainly performed microscopic analyzes of the surface structure and the filter, as well as integrity tests, which helped with the certification itself. Now they can also be used by doctors in Italian hospitals, "said Giancarlo Forte, head of Center for Translational Medicine and Vice Chair of FNUSA-ICRC.

Even after successful certification, the work does not end, researchers would still be interested in the behavior of viruses when passing through the filter. "We will monitor fluorescent nanoparticles that are even smaller than droplets with virus and analyze whether and how much they pass through the filter. This could help to further improve the material for the filters, "added Giancarlo Forte.


4. 5. 2020 |

Pavel Iványi, LL.M., MBA, is the successor of Gorazd Bernard Stokin MD, Ph.D. as the new director of the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne's University Hospital in Brno as of May 4th, 2020.

Gorazd B. Stokin chaired FNUSA-ICRC from its infancy to become internationally renowned and a leading clinical research institution in the Czech Republic. "I’m pleased that under my seven years of leadership FNUSA-ICRC turned out to be so successful and that I could promote Czech research abroad. In this time the center obtained over 100 grants, published over 1000 publications, some in the best journals in the world, got several utility models and 3 patents approved and several others filed and created a global network of collaborations. Importantly, FNUSA-ICRC coordinated numerous clinical trials, which significantly helped patients in Brno," said Gorazd B. Stokin, who is both a neuroscientist and a neurologist. He added that he will continue as the research group leader of his neuroscience team in the FNUSA-ICRC until the end of this year prior to joining his family in England.

"I would like to thank Dr. Stokin for the great work that he’s done. This year, the National Sustainability Grant (NPU) is coming to an end, and it is now clear that funding will not be as high for the next five-year period as before," said the director of FNUSA, Ing. Vlastimil Vajdák. He added: “With regards to this fact, for the function of the new director of the ICRC I have employed a manager, lawyer and economist, Pavel Iványi. He does not have an easy task in front of him. At his disposal he has the results of an external personnel audit, which was performed at the ICRC, and a proposal for restructuring. He will have to design and set up the functioning of the center in the next funding period in such a way to make its activities utmost efficient,” Vlastimil Vajdák stated.

Pavel Iványi, LL.M., MBA, was born and raised in the Czech Republic. He then lived in the Netherlands for 27 years, where he studied law at the University of Amsterdam (LL.M.) and MBA at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Since his return to the Czech Republic in 2003 he has worked as a manager in several companies. In 2008 he established the International School of Brno, where he now works as a non-executive director. He is also the President of the Netherlands-Czech Chamber of Commerce.


30. 4. 2020 |

Marco Cassani Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher in the Cardiovascular System Mechanobiology (CSM) Research Team achieved significant success. With his project "Mechanobiology-mediated nanoparticles-cells interactions to develop immunotherapy against breast cancer" he received the iCARE-2 fellowship, co-financed by the Italian AIRC Foundation for Cancer Research and the European Union within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie event (H2020 - MSCA-COFUND-2017, grant agreement No 800924).

What exactly will Marco Cassani research at the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne's University Hospital Brno (FNUSA-ICRC)? We asked him in a short interview.

How did you come to Brno?

Around 1 and a half year ago I participated at international workshop for an European exchange project RISE, which aims to promote the mobility of researchers from different countries. There I met Giancarlo Forte – my present chief, of which, of course, I had no idea at the time. After completing my PhD in Italy I was looking for a Post Doc position, because I wanted to face new scientific challenges and to enlarge my research network. I remembered RISE and I realised that Giancarlo, together with Francesca Cavalieri (the project coordinator from Melbourne) was looking for researchers willing to join this exchange network. That was exactly the opportunity that I was looking for and allowed me to find much more than a job. A part from the excellent facilities that I found in the CTM’s laboratories, I found Brno a pleasant city, safe, friendly and relaxed. I also had the chance to discover the beauties of the country, from Adršpach to Český Krumlov and to meet its genuine and sincere people.

What exactly will be your research?

The title: “Mechanobiology-mediated nanoparticles-cells interactions to develop immunotherapy against breast cancer” may appear complicated, but the main goal of my project is simple and straightforward. Cancer cells use different strategies to survive the attack of our immune system, deceiving and evading its response. In this phenomenon, the mechanobiological processes of cancer cells play an important role. Briefly, mechanobiology is the discipline that studies the way in which cells adapt their behavior to the external environment and experimental tests highlight its role in communication between cancer cells and immune cells. My project has the dual purpose of tackle both the mechanobiological pathways at the basis of the immune system inhibition and to restore the activity of immune cells against cancer. To do this, smart nanoparticles specific for the tumor niche and able to carry compounds for inhibiting the mechanobiological responses and stimulating the immune system at the same time, will be used. The synergistic approach of the project is expected to improve the effectiveness of therapeutic treatment.

What does this success mean to you?
From a professional point of view, it represents immense satisfaction because it is achieved in the field where I decided to devote my efforts, the research on cancer. From a personal perspective, this success crowns a dream began many years ago. Briefly, it’s a fundamental step for the success of my research and I have always considered winning a research project, such as the one from AIRC. Certainly, I also hope to contribute significantly to the scientific impact and research outcomes of FNUSA-ICRC, thus confirming the excellent and productive work environment that CTM was able to build up in few years. Being part of this research excellence on the European landscape is extremely motivating.

What are your other goals?
First, I would like to establish an unprecedented point of contact between nanomedicine, immunology and mechanobiology. To do this, the primary objective is to develop a procedure as simple, fast and cheap as possible for the synthesis of nanomaterial that can be made available to laboratories with different backgrounds. This could also favor the translational success of this nanomaterial. The use of complex in vitro systems will be the other fundamental point that will guarantee a deep understanding of the interactions between nanoparticles and cells before more advanced experimentation. I also want to established new collaborations with national and international research groups and reinforce the already existing ones. Indeed, the cooperation between scientists and groups from different background and skills is the key for the effective implementation of research outcomes to meet society needs and build up a trustable and reliable scientific system.


21. 4. 2020 |

The CZECRIN research infrastructure, which is part of the pan-European ECRIN-ERIC network, offers its support, services and expertise to all research-oriented doctors in order to engage their forces with quick access to initiate national and especially transnational clinical studies.

St. Anne's University Hospital Brno and her International Clinical Research Center together with Masaryk University are the founding member and the main coordinator of this Czech national infrastructure.

Within the clinical research, the CZECRIN team responded flexibly to the current situation and established the COVID 19 web section, which summarizes all ongoing and planned activities leading to clinical research and upcoming clinical studies for patients with COVID-19. “One of the key parts of VVI CZECRIN is also CZECRIN NATIONAL CTUs NETWORK, which consists of representatives of the clinical studies departments of individual healthcare facilities. In this network, the interest of healthcare facilities in engaging in clinical trials with a focus on the treatment of patients with COVID-19 was mapped, ”said Ing. Jakub Johaník, Project Manager.

An overview of the information can be found on the website or on Facebook

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