QuantOCancer ERA Chair @ Champalimaud Foundation


First Periodic Report

Our first periodic report was submitted at
the end of February 2020.  Summary of progress so far: 


The primary achievement of this
period was the successful installation of the ERA Chair - the
cornerstone of the QuantOCancer project - in October 2019. An open, transparent
and merit-based recruitment process was conducted by a specialised Search and
Selection Committee, composed of internal faculty and external Scientific
Advisory Board members. The selected candidate, Adriana Sánchez-Danés, will
drive an ambitious frontier project that will tackle the fate of tumor cells in
vivo. She will combine genetic, modelling, imaging and quantitative systems to
understand the mechanisms involved in tumor progression, resistance and
relapse. The ERA Chair subsequently effectively recruited a five-element
experienced research team
, effectively overcoming the major potential risks
associated with this action.


Further expansion of the
Champalimaud Research programme is in the pipeline, with the launch of a new
call for Group Leaders to join the Physiology and Cancer programme
and
significant resources allocated to this process. Under the scope of Capacity
Building, the current in-house International Neuroscience Doctoral Programme
has been updated to include Physiology and Cancer and additional training
programmes for the next generation of researchers are being developed.


The implementation of
structural changes is underway
, with investment in new technologies,
including a Light-sheet microscope (to visualise whole biological systems) and
strengthening of the existing MRI pre-clinical imaging platforms. These technologies
will complement those available at the regional level and be employed directly
in novel international collaborations, respectively. To render the research
environment more attractive to mobile researchers, institutional practices
have been reviewed against the European Charter and Code for Researchers

and a HR strategy designed, aiming to standardise policies and procedures.


In October 2019, Champalimaud
Foundation successfully joined the Crowdhelix Vision 2020 partner-finding
platform
, which will provide further access to an extensive academic and
non-academic network, sustaining effective participation in international and
intersectoral collaborative Research and Development.


A highlight of this reporting
period was the initiation of a series of events focused on RRI themes,
disseminated at the national-level and organised in collaboration with national
research infrastructures (CONGENTO and Biodata.pt, amongst others), an advocacy
organisation (European Animal Research Association, EARA) and other institutes
within the Lisbon region, with corporate sponsors attracted. One key event was
the workshop “Improving Openness in Animal Research” (Public Engagement,
Ethics) hosted in November 2019, with 60 participants plus streaming. Several
future RRI-focussed events are planned for 2020 and beyond, with foci on open
science, data integrity and researcher wellbeing.


Regarding project management,
baseline widening Key Performance Indicators have been evaluated, procedures
and standards defined and responsibilities established. An Independent
Ethics Advisor has been appointed
to monitor the ethics issues involved
through the project’s duration. 


Improving Openness in Animal Research

On November 20th 2019, Champalimaud Foundation hosted the event Improving Openness in Animal Research in Portugal, in collaboration with the European Animal Research Association (EARA) and supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), Society for Neuroscience (SFN) and RI project CONGENTO (in addition to QuantOCancer). 

Designed to support members of institutions that are involved in animal research - directly or indirectly - and are currently hesitant to speak out in the media or to participate in public engagement activities, this event successfully kick-started key discussions towards a cultural change, supporting research institutions to handle this issue constructively. 

Speakers: 

  • Kirk Leech, Executive Director, European Animal Research Association
  • Dr. Susana Lima, Neuroscientist and Biologist, CCU
  • Sara Sá, Science Journalist, Visão Magazine
  • Dr. Ana Mena, Head of the Science Communication and Outreach Team, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência


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