Project Title: Center of Excellence – Biobanking and the Cyprus Human Genome Project
CY-BIOBANK │ Grant Agreement Number: 857122
Funding: European Commission │ Project duration: 15 years │ European funding for years 1-7
Program: H2020-WIDESPREAD-01-2018-2019: Teaming Phase 2
Brief description of the project
This specific call for proposals was addressed to research groups of the EU countries that are low performers in research, development and innovation and required the teaming with Advanced Partners who shall assist in establishing new research infrastructures. The new infrastructures should develop into Centers of Excellence in their field of expertise and pursue activities leading to self-sustainability in the years to come. The CY-Biobank project revolves around the upgrading of the existing Biobank of the University of Cyprus, to a Center of Excellence in Biobanking and Biomedical Research, adapting European standards of operation in collaboration with the Advanced Partners. This medical research infrastructure will then serve the foundation for developing the Cyprus human genome project and other genomics/genetics projects for diseases with Mendelian inheritance as well as complex disorders of multifactorial character that impact modern societies. We are interested in all diseases, all forms of cancer, cardiovascular conditions and kidney disorders, rheumatic diseases, psychiatric conditions and dementias, diabetes and autoimmune diseases and any other condition of interest to the medical community.
The Biobank will implement an electronic health platform, in a patient-centric approach using artificial intelligence, encouraging all Cypriots to participate in research programs. Our motto is that every patient should consider participating into a research project if there is one concerned with his/her condition, because it will be to their or their family’s benefit. It is also an altruistic act, because the medical records and biological material to collect in a Biobank of high standards is a very important investment in the pursuit of new treatments, discovery of new drugs and the prevention of diseases, with wider social impact.
The CY-Biobank project aspires to create a research ecosystem that will serve as an incubator for young researchers, offering them the tools and the momentum to develop innovative projects of translational research aimed at precision medicine, taking advantage of the expertise of the personnel and the center’s infrastructure. Collaborators and supporters in this project are the Ministry of Health and other major establishments concerned with health delivery, including the Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Genetics lab at the Cyprus University of Technology, the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Center, the Center for the Study of Haematological Malignancies, the Center for Preventive Pediatrics, the Cyprus Cardiovascular Disease Educational and Research Trust, the Cyprus Institute and others, while the Center has ongoing collaborative projects with major groups in Europe and the USA.
The CY-Biobank aims to enroll 16,500 donors within the years 1-7, applying a project-focused approach, thus achieving operational sustainability, before expanding into a general population Biobank beyond year 7. A priority of the CY-Biobank is the completion of the Cyprus human genome project, as an interim milestone of collective benefit, which will place Cyprus in the international genome map while it will comprise an exceptional means for enhancing research in many diseases by motivating a multiplicity of researchers.
It is also in the objectives of the project to foster contacts and collaborations with countries in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, in an effort to bridge the gap between Europe and the south. To this end, the MediEuro Network with nine laboratories from seven countries is under formation, while more will be invited when the project is up and running. An effort to attract the interest of pharmaceutical companies is in progress while one major pharma is already a collaborator on the project.
In developing the CY-Biobank project, the Advanced Partners will have instrumental roles in guiding and implementing high standards in compliance with European norms while TALOS will have a key administrative role in promoting the project and its potentials for product development and commercialization.