Winners of the second open competition in the IRAP programme have been selected

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Research into cancer vaccines and into new drugs targeting neurodegenerative diseases and cancer are the challenges taken on by two international research centres to be established in Poland thanks to a funding pool of more than PLN 76 million (EUR 18 million), provided by the Foundation for Polish Science as part of the International Research Agendas (IRAP) programme.

The new facilities will be located in Warsaw and Gdańsk. They will be managed by world-renowned scientists. The Warsaw centre will be headed by: Professor Agnieszka Chacińska and Professor Magda Konarska of the Centre of New Technologies at the University of Warsaw (CeNT UW), and the Gdańsk unit will be supervised by Theodore Hupp of the University of Edinburgh and Robin Fahraeus of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris (INSERM). Both projects prepared by the professorial tandems were top-rated by recognized experts and reviewers in the second open competition held as part of the International Research Agendas programme implemented by the Foundation for Polish Science.

“We are happy that the IRAP programme will make Poland home to research centres managed by internationally acknowledged and appreciated scholars. They have set themselves very ambitious and relevant goals. I hope that within the next few years, thanks to strong partnerships with Polish and international research institutions and companies, we will be able to see excellent results which will be relevant to the public and to the economy, while at the same time encouraging gifted scientists to work in Poland,” says Professor Maciej Żylicz, President of the Foundation for Polish Science.

  • ReMedy to neurodegenerative diseases and cancer

The new research facility at the University of Warsaw will operate under the name “ReMedy”, conducting scientific research into regeneration mechanisms. The objective will be to thoroughly understand the function of cells and especially to investigate the cellular mechanisms of reaction to disturbances caused by pathogenic factors, such as genetic disorders, conditions caused by environmental factors, or ageing. The research output will contribute to developing new therapies and drugs, helping people to stay healthy or enabling the treatment of e.g. neurodegenerative and age-related diseases, as well as cancers.

“We plan to conduct research which will advance the development of innovative strategies for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and cancers as, despite ongoing efforts made within the last few decades, there are still no drugs to cure them completely, while the efficacy of those that do exist is not sufficient,” says Professor Agnieszka Chacińska. “We hope that our institute, relying on excellent researchers and scientists from Poland and abroad, becomes a vibrant centre promoting creativity, innovation and collaboration, while maintaining the highest standards,” adds Professor Chacińska.

The project by Professor Agnieszka Chacińska and Professor Magda Konarska received a grant worth more than PLN 35 million (over EUR 8 million) for 5 years. The research will be conducted using the infrastructure of the CeNT UW, in collaboration with the Medical University in Göttingen. Seven research teams will be

involved in the work, with contributions from several dozen scholars from Poland and abroad.

See a movie about ReMedy

  • In search for a cancer vaccine

The second project which received funding in the second open competition under the International Research Agendas programme was developed by two foreign researchers: Professor Theodore Hupp and Professor Robin Fahraeus. They received PLN 41 million (EUR 9.8 million) to establish an International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science in Gdańsk. The research to be conducted at the centre will consist in developing a strategy to kick-start the human immune system so that it is able to better cope with cancer cells. The new knowledge will be useful in future clinical and industrial work on cancer vaccines and immunotherapy drugs, making oncological treatment more effective.

The International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science will operate within the University of Gdańsk in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh. “The research planned to be conducted at our facility will focus on immunology and cancer immunotherapy. We hope that it brings substantial advantages to both Gdańsk and Poland, by developing new technologies that might save human lives,” says Professor Hupp.

The founders of the centre are planning to launch seven research groups, which will ultimately consist of several dozen researchers. “Our research and mentoring strategy will help to engage a new generation of interdisciplinary scholars working to design better cancer therapies in humans,” adds Professor Hupp.

See a movie about The International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science

Press contact: Dominika Wojtysiak, Foundation for Polish Science: T. 22 845 95 41, 698 931 944, wojtysiak@fnp.org.pl

See an animation about the programme