St. Anne’s University Hospital Gets CZK 2.4 Billion from the EU for Its International Research Center
International Clinical Research Center, a part of St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno, received a grant of CZK 2.425 billion from the European Union Structural Funds, channeled through the “Research and Development for Innovation” operational program of the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. This important act will greatly accelerate the on-going process of building the European Center of Excellence, in which experts from the Czech Republic will collaborate with colleagues from leading academic institutions on research projects aimed at prevention, early diagnosis, and effective treatment of cardiovascular and neurological diseases that are among the most prevalent and the most serious civilization illnesses today.
The funds received from the EU treasury will complement those already granted or allocated from the budgets of the Ministry of Health, the South-Moravian regional administration and other sources, along with the funds that have come, or will come, from foreign research grants and by virtueof cooperation with manufacturers of medical devices, instruments, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnologies. These grants will be used to conduct 11 unique scientific research programs. These programs will utilize the facilities and support provided by six multi-disciplinary platforms dedicated to biomedical engineering, pharmacology, biotechnologies & nanotechnologies, information technologies, molecular imaging, and pre-clinical research. The University Hospital started to build its International Clinical Research Center structure last summer. A fully operational start-up with state-of-the-art equipment installed is expected in the summer of 2012.
The objective of the Clinical Research Centre (FNUSA-ICRC) project is to build an outstanding international center for applied medical research, referred to as European Center of Excellence, in the Czech Republic. Thanks to a unique system of international scientific cooperation based on the concept of dynamic research teams (groups of scientists selected specifically for each research project), and an original system of so-called flexible scientific laboratories, FNUSA-ICRC is able to speed up the development of new therapeutic and diagnostic strategies, technologies and drugs by as much as 50 % when compared to the current practice in the Czech Republic and abroad. “The new logistics of the International Clinical Research Center will allow us to handle projects which, up to now, couldn’t have been done anywhere" explains Tomáš Kára, head physician and the main proponent of the idea to build the Center, and he adds “the FNUSA-ICRC international approach will enable us to promote the new processes and technologies more effectively within both the CR and the EU, which is bound to have a profound influence on improving the quality of medical care. The FNUSA-ICRC project will also result in one of the most modern European centers for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and neurological diseases”.
Almost 150 scientists and researchers from the Czech Republic, other EU countries and North America will participate in these R&D activities. The scientific programs will be spearheaded by leading experts from such institutions as Mayo Clinic, University College London, University of Minnesota, Medical University of Gdansk and the University of Alabama.
The results of this research and development will be implemented in the shortest possible time. That is assured by the ICRC’s status as an integral part of St. Anne’s University Hospital, which has almost one thousand beds and treats nearly 1.5 million patients every year. It is further reinforced by the involvement of manufacturers of medical devices, instruments, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnologies, i.e. companies like Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Cardion, Linet and Sanofi-Aventis in these R&D projects. The international cooperation has already resulted in a new device for blood vessel diagnosis that facilitates early identification of patients at risk for a heart attack or a stroke, and in one of the most modern instruments for electrophysiology of heart and brain. At present, for example, the ICRC researchers are focusing on the possibility of using stem cells to treat heart failures, on artificial heart development, or the development of new methods and technologies to treat cardiac arrhythmia, ischemic heart diseases, vascular strokes, and Alzheimer's disease. Much emphasis is placed on prevention and early diagnosis of these serious illnesses, including risk factor research that would permit to detect a disease even before the appearance of its first symptoms.
The R&D activities will have a direct link to education. The expectation is that by 2015, the Center’s educational programs will train at least 300 participants, those being medical students, postgraduate students, doctors and other health professionals seeking continued education. They will be apprised of the latest advances in the Center and in the cooperating firms and institutions. In addition, some of the Center workers and associates will have the opportunity to do an internship or a project at a foreign location. The Center has already received funds from other programs within the European Union and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for young cardiologists to work as interns, and the first group will depart at the beginning of July for a stay at Mayo Clinic.
A number of Brno-based organizations will be involved in the International Clinical Research Center activities, including Masaryk University, Technical University, Institute of Instrumentation Technology of the Academy of Sciences, South-Moravian Innovation Center, and companies like BioVendor and GeneProof. FNUSA-ICRC is therefore a good complement of the South-Moravian regional innovation strategy.
The Center’s contribution will have a significant impact on improving the patient care. It will lead to earlier symptom recognition, to more effective prevention, and to gentler therapies for the diseases that can befall any one of us", says director Peter Koška of the University Hospital. "The International Clinical Research Center is of absolutely crucial importance for the growth of our University Hospital. No other health organization in the country has ever embarked on a project of this magnitude. Thanks to top-notch research and the collaboration with professionals and companies from the Czech Republic and abroad, the creation of the International Clinical Research Center will be beneficial for patients and doctors alike. And it will add to the prestige of our hospital", concludes Petr Koška.
Genesis of the International Clinical Research Center (FNUSA-ICRC) Project
The idea to create the first truly international center for medical research in the world within the Czech Republic was conceived 8 years ago during the internship of Tomáš Kára and other specialists from St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno at Mayo Clinic. The clinic is the largest medical establishment in the world (it has 56,000 employees, medical researchers and personnel), and one of the most prestigious hospitals in the United States. A request for funding the FNUSA-ICRC project from the EU Structural Funds through the “Research and Development for Innovation” program was submitted to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in November 2009.
Concurrently, the International Clinical Research Center is a strategic project of the Czech government. The government approved the intent to build the Center already in 2006, and instructed the Ministry of Health and Finance to set aside funds in support of the project. On that basis, preparatory work could begin before the allocation of the European funds. Building permits for the structures comprising the clinical research complex were issued in May 2010, and on-site construction in the St. Anne’s University Hospital compound started in June of the same year.
FNUSA-ICRC will occupy two L-shaped buildings seven stories high. The first phase is to be completed in autumn of 2012, and will include R&D labs for the integrated research platforms, facilities for the international scientific staff, an educational center, research teams support centers, and the cardiovascular and neurological clinics. Emergency care rooms, operating rooms and other work stations will be added in the ensuing phase. The projected completion date is the end of 2013.
The newly built work area will encompass more than 23,783 m².
History of St. Anne’s University Hospital
St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno provides basic, specialized, and highly specialized diagnostic, therapeutic, and nursing care. It has been designated Comprehensive Oncological Center, Comprehensive Cardiovascular Center, and Comprehensive Cerebrovascular Center by the Czech Ministry of Health. The hospital has 30 specialized departments, almost 1,000 beds, and approximately 2,500 employees. In the year 2010, it treated 28,000 inpatients and nearly 1.5 million outpatients. The University Hospital premises serve as an educational base for the Masaryk University’s Medical Faculty. The hospital performs scientific, research-oriented tasks as well as clinical trials of drugs and devices.
St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno, which this year commemorates 225 years of its existence, has been a provincial, a regional, and ultimately an academic hospital. The hospital history dates back to 1783, when Emperor Josef II issued a decree establishing St. Anne’s Hospital on the property of a former Dominican convent. Following the necessary adaptation, the hospital started its
operation in 1786, with another expansion in the period of 1865-1868. Josef Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, was briefly active here in 1848. The founding of the Masaryk University and its Medical Faculty in 1919 led to the establishment of clinical work stations intended for instruction of medical students. The compound was further developed and modernized in the years 1923-25. After 1989, some departments of the hospital were relocated into a new University Hospital area at Brno-Bohunice.
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St. Anne's University Hospital
International Clinical Research Center
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