Despite BREXIT, Researchers from Brno Develop Collaboration with UK

As surprising as it may seem in light of news surrounding the British exit from the EU, the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s Hospital in Brno (FNUSA-ICRC) have been intensively collaborating with researchers and research institutions from the UK. The Center has been working with them to develop diagnostic and medical equipment and together, they have been searching for new therapeutic options for cardiac and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Researchers from both countries have been discussing potential collaboration in cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure research. Their collaboration also gets the support from the new UK ambassador to the Czech Republic, Nick Archer.

At the moment, researchers from the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s Hospital in Brno are involved in several international research projects funded from the EU research program Horizon 2020, such as the CresPace project, conducted at the University of Bath in south-west England, which aims to develop a new bio-electronic pacemaker, and the ES-Cat project, implemented at the University of Cambridge, focused on the search for new proteins and their use in medicine and biotechnology. Together with a company from Liverpool, they have been developing an antibody against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease; this project was financially supported by the South Moravian Region, Czech Republic.

Researchers from FNUSA-ICRC have published articles that they have co-authored together with scientists from the prestigious Francis Crick Institute, the University College London and the Institute of Cancer Research in the field of oncology; with the Imperial College London and the University of Liverpool in the field of cardiology, and with the University of Newcastle and King’s College in the field of neurology.

In October, a group of experts on cardiac diseases and disorders from the Imperial College London visited FNUSA-ICRC. Their visit to Brno was preceded with other meetings of representatives from both countries, such as at the ESC Congress in Munich and London. The researchers have identified a number of opportunities for their closer collaboration in cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure. Bio-engineers from Brno will meet their colleagues again in London at the end of November and another visit from the Imperial College is expected in Brno in December. “We have been also discussing collaboration on a comprehensive education project for European electrophysiologists,” says Dr. Zdeněk Stárek, head of the Cardiac Electrophysiology team at FNUSA-ICRC.
FNUSA-ICRC is not concerned that either existing or new joint projects might be impacted by BREXIT. “We have been monitoring the situation carefully and we do not anticipate that the UK’s leaving the EU might have any significant negative impact on our collaboration with British scientists,” says Gorazd B. Stokin, FNUSA-ICRC Chair. “Research should be one of the priorities for Britain and we are sure that the level of research in the country will remain very high even in the years to come. However, if some foreign experts were to leave the UK after all, we would be happy to offer continuing with their research at FNUSA-ICRC,” he adds with a smile.

His words have been confirmed by the new ambassador of the UK to the Czech Republic Nick Archer: “Although the UK is leaving the European Union, research collaboration with the Czech Republic continues and has been growing. We consider future bilateral collaboration in research and innovation one of our main priorities.”  Otakar Fojt, the science attaché from the British Embassy in Prague, adds: “The British government guarantees funding of the British portion of all Horizon 2020 projects that were submitted and approved prior to the country’s exit from the EU. British researchers currently work on 380 H2020 projects with researchers from the Czech Republic and other countries. Out of 568 projects that the Czech Republic is involved in, 67% of them is with British participation. FNUSA-ICRC is an excellent example of Czech-British research collaboration.”

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