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Ceitec opens pavilions for the natural sciences and medicine

The new facilities on the campus of Masaryk University serve for five research programmes.

Ceitec in University Campus Bohunice.

Two new pavilions for scientific teams focussing on research into biologically significant molecules, evolution and the genetic equipment of plants, as well the human mind and people's health were today opened by the Central European Institute of Technology (Ceitec) at the Bohunice University Campus of Masaryk University (MU) in Brno.

Scientists can now begin to make use of first rate laboratories and unique equipment that can be found in only a few workplaces in the world. A further four pavilions, within the Ceitec joint project, serving particularly materials science and advanced technologies, are under construction at the Brno University of Technology and will be completed in 2015.

The opening of Ceitec MU has exceptional importance for Masaryk University. “The opening of these two pavilions, both symbolically and in reality, links and completes the whole campus for the natural sciences and medicine. New premises and shared laboratories ensure the further development of successful scientific teams and will allow young scientists to participate in high-level research while they are still studying. The completion of this development in good order and on time furthermore demonstrates the ability of Masaryk University to effectively manage and administer such an extensive project," said MU rector Mikuláš Bek.

Scientists have gained almost 7000 m² of space for research and teaching in the newly opened pavilions. The larger of the pavilions has an atypical elliptical floor plan with a roofed over atrium. Here there is for example a special laboratory with a new FEI Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope, which allows the study of the structure and spatial arrangement of isolated complexes of proteins and nucleic acids down to atomic level. Within the Bohunice university campus there are eight central laboratories with a range of first class machines such as NMR spectrometers, for the study of the 3D structure of substances at atomic level, mass spectrometers to look at the genetics and proteomics of plant systems, as well as a special electroencephalograph for brain studies.

Scientists have gained almost 7000 m² of space for research and teaching in the newly opened pavilions.

The new facilities on the campus serve for the research programmes: structural biology, the genomics and proteomics of plant systems, molecular medicine and brain and mind research, and partly for the advanced nanotechnolgy and microtechnology programme. The largest of these is structural biology, which deals with the study of the structure as well as the function of biologically significant molecules, mainly proteins and nucleic acids. Scientists in this programme are dealing specifically with RNA quality control and investigating viruses. The genomics and proteomics of plant systems programme may in future may bring, among other benefits, effective means of using plants as renewable sources of materials and biologically useful substances. Molecular medicine focuses on clarifying the mechanisms of the origin and spread of serious diseases, as well as seeking means of their prevention and therapy. The brain and mind research programme focuses on the study of epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, as well as for example the causes of aggressive behaviour in drivers.

The construction of these two pavilions for Ceitec MU took two years and cost 440 million Czech crowns. A further 950 million crowns was invested in equipping them, in particular on machines. All the expenditure came from the Ceitec project. The total budget of the Ceitec project is 5.246 billion crowns, from which the EU contribution is 4.459 billion crowns and 786 million crowns comes from the state budget. The main source of funds is the European Fund for Regional Development, via the Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovations, priority axis 1 – European Centres of Excellence, run by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

The uniqueness of Ceitec, which brings together four Brno universities and two Brno research institutions, lies in the linking of research and development in the life sciences with advanced materials and technologies. “Ceitec has now successfully completed the next step in a long journey which the public can be proud of. The completion of the Ceitec buildings, which will house our scientists in the areas of life sciences, will provide the opportunity to drive scientific discovery, leading to healthier and more productive lives. Attracting and sustaining a critical mass of promising scientists and students is the path to build a knowledge-based economy for Czech society," said Ceitec director Markus Dettenhofer.