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IOCB Prague and Charles University Faculty of Science establish joint endowed chair

Two distinguished Czech academic institutes in the field of natural sciences, the Faculty of Science, Charles University (FOS) and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), have reached an agreement on the creation of a joint endowed chair for the development and testing of new drugs. Millions of Czech crowns in funding for the new position is being provided by IOCB, which will help attract a leading foreign scientist to the Czech Republic and allow them to form their own research group focusing on the discovery and development of new antiparasitics.

As part of its strategy to deepen collaboration with Czech universities, IOCB has introduced a new endowed chair concept and established a program called Charles University, Faculty of Science-IOCB Prague Chair, which makes it possible to overcome the salary constraints of the university and attract renowned experts to the Czech Republic for four-year appointments that are not directly tied to IOCB. Funding for the program is being coordinated by IOCB Tech, a subsidiary of IOCB. The company has already provided more than 3.3 million Czech crowns in financial support.

“Collaboration with universities is of strategic importance to us,” explains IOCB director Dr. Zdeněk Hostomský. “The partnership with the Charles University Faculty of Science is the natural result of a joint effort to share human resources and collaborate together on research projects. One of our goals in supporting this new endowed chair is to increase the international prestige of Czech research institutes and, in the long run, assist in making important discoveries in the development of new drugs to ultimately benefit the whole of society.”

“The partnership between the Faculty of Science at Charles University and IOCB is natural and very deep,” says Prof. Jiří Zima, dean of FOS. “Not only do we share a number of employees on a part-time basis at both institutes, we also have a total of eight co-accredited doctoral study programs. Employees and students alike can make use of the cutting-edge laboratories at both institutes, which in today’s world of research represents a considerable competitive advantage. Moreover, IOCB provides our best students with long-term support in the form of scholarships, which, of course, further deepens this already outstanding partnership. We’re also pleased that our collaboration has advanced to the point of supporting leading foreign professors,” adds Prof. Zima.

The first distinguished individual appointed to the position of Charles University, Faculty of Science-IOCB Prague Chair is Dr. Martin Zoltner, who will be working in Vestec at the Biotechnology and Biomedicine Centre of the Academy of Sciences and Charles University (BIOCEV). Dr. Zoltner comes to the center from the University of Dundee in Scotland, where he conducted research in new antimalarials and drugs targeting the causative agent of sleeping sickness, the endoparasite Trypanosoma brucei.

“Dr. Zoltner’s task is to establish a new laboratory modelled after the Drug Discovery Unit at the University of Dundee to test possibilities for applying the promising results of basic research in the development of new antiparasitic drugs. Thus, the laboratory will help to bridge certain gaps between basic research and the pharmaceutical industry,” says parasitologist Prof. Jan Tachezy in describing Dr. Zoltner’s role in the project.

In terms of expertise, IOCB is the leader among Czech academic institutes in the technological transfer of basic research results into practice. One of the jobs of the newly created group for the development and testing of drugs headed by Martin Zoltner will be to evaluate the potential of the findings of 15 research groups at the Center for Research of Pathogenicity and Virulence of Parasites.

“We’re happy we can meaningfully draw upon our successes in commercialization to support new research in the field of drug discovery,” says IOCB deputy director and IOCB Tech director Prof. Martin Fusek.

The Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences /
IOCB Prague
(www.iocb.cz) is a leading internationally recognized scientific institute whose primary mission is the pursuit of basic research in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, organic and materials chemistry, chemistry of natural substances, biochemistry and molecular biology, physical chemistry, theoretical chemistry, and analytical chemistry. An integral part of IOCB Prague’s mission is the transfer of the results of basic research into practice. Emphasis on interdisciplinary research gives rise to a wide range of applications in medicine, pharmaceutics, and other fields.  

The Faculty of Science, Charles University / FOS (www.natur.cuni.cz) is part of the oldest university in Central Europe. It was founded as the 5th faculty of Charles University on 24 June 1920 when the natural sciences were separated from the Faculty of Arts. Today, the faculty is divided into four sections – biology, chemistry, geography, and geology – and one faculty-wide department, the Institute for Environmental Studies. In each of these fields, the faculty ranks among the leading institutes not only in the Czech Republic but also in Europe and even the world. The Faculty of Science features its own botanical garden as well as several public museums and collections.


Published: Jun 11, 2019 01:50 PM

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