On Wednesday, 11 May, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports announced the results of the public competition of the EXCELES programme. This is a call launched within the framework of the National Recovery Plan (NPO) with the aim of creating a National Institute for Neurological Research (NINR). The project will be launched in July, will run for three and a half years and involves the collaboration of eleven institutions from across the country. The main beneficiary and coordinator is St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno. The total subsidy received is almost CZK 590 million.
The public competition in the Programme for Supporting Excellent Research in Priority Areas of Public Interest in Health Care – EXCELES was one of the first calls announced under the National Recovery Plan. These were announced in several areas, for example, focusing on oncology, metabolic-cardiology, virology, etc. “FNUSA and the Faculty of Medicine of Masaryk University entered the project together, based on their close cooperation. The fact that we are the coordinator of the project is a prestigious matter,” said Professor Milan Brázdil, Head of the First Neurological Clinic of FNUSA and the Medical Faculty of Masaryk University. In addition to the Brno platform, the other main institutions are the first and second Faculty of Medicine of Charles University, and other institutions are also involved, including the Academy of Sciences or the Czech Technical University and the University of Technology.
The central aim of the project is to connect excellent research teams with similar focuses, especially across universities and academies of science, to make the most of their unique expertise, to support the efficient use of existing cohorts and already acquired data, and to enable specialised research laboratories to carry out data evaluation so that work is concentrated in these central laboratories and not carried out in multiple locations at once.
This goal requires the establishment of a new national authority, the National Institute for Neurological Research (NINR), whose primary mission will be to systematically seek out breakthroughs in brain and nervous system knowledge with the goal of using them programmatically to reduce the burden of neurological disease and improve the quality of life of the affected population. The research will mainly focus on neurodegenerative diseases, i.e. for example Parkinson’s disease and dementia, and partly on COVID-19 and its impact on neurodegeneration.
The tasks of the NINR within this project will rest on three pillars of research looking at the issue of neurodegeneration from three different aspects – movement control disorders, cognitive disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders. “And it is not only about closer cooperation between the participating institutions, the project also includes student mobility, establishing greater cooperation with foreign countries, attracting foreign students and internationalising our scientific institutions,” emphasised FNUSA-ICRC Director Prof. Irena Rektorová.
Supported by Project No. LX22NPO5107 from the National Recovery Plan (MEYS).