Centre of Excellence in Rijeka to Get 5 Million Euro in EU Funds

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The Centre of Excellence for Viral Immunology and Vaccines, based at the Faculty of Medicine in Rijeka, procured EU funding of 5 million euro, reported Novi list on September 28, 2017.

Earlier this week, the centre was visited by representatives of the European Commission, State Secretary of Science and Education Tome Antičić and State Secretary for EU funds at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds Spomenka Đurić.

Antičić disclosed that ten scientific Centres of Excellence will be funded with a total of 50 million euro, adding it’s been four years since their foundation. “We’re talking about scientific groups that have the most potential to contribute to the ‘high tech’ economy, as well as to improve Croatian science in general in the long run. That’s why it’s extremely important for the funding process to start now”, Antičić said.

He described the Centre of Excellence in Rijeka as an outstanding group of experts led by Dr Stipan Jonjić, calling him an excellent scientist who’s also the only person in Croatia to have been awarded the ‘Advance Grant’ from the European Research Council (ERC). It’s the most prestigious project in Europe and the hardest one to get, according to Antičić.

Dr Jonić explained that the Centre of Excellence unites multiple groups from Rijeka, those from the Department of Histology and Embriology and from the Centre for Proteomics at the Faculty of Medicine in Rijeka, along with certain scientists from other departments and universities. He added that the centre achieved numerous successes during the last four years without any outside funding, as the scientists working at the centre also work on other scientific projects. The announced funding is primarily of importance for young scientists, as an incentive for them to remain in Croatia.

“Our partner institutions are the Centre for Research and Transfer of Knowledge in Biotechnology from the University of Zagreb and the Clinic for Infectious Diseases ‘Dr Fran Mihaljević’, also in Zagreb. We assemble more than 70 scientists and experts from other fields who are working at the Centre, and we plan to direct the major part of procured funds towards the employees’ salaries”, said Dr Jonjić.

The Centre of Excellence focuses on research related to the link between viruses and the immune system, as well as on producing vaccines to treat various infectious diseases and tumors that affect the world population. The scientists working at the Centre have published more than 150 papers so far.

Dr Tomislav Rukavina, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Rijeka, stated that the awarded EU funds will help the Centre of Excellence to work on its long-term strategic goals, aiming to become recognisable not only in the European, but the global science domain. “You can’t work towards great science without covering the basic expenses, and our most valued factor are the people. The procured funds are twice as large as our usual annual budget”, said the Dean.

Translation of excerpts from Novi list.


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