Aurora mini-grant helps to establish cooperation - Catrin

Aurora mini-grant helps to establish cooperation

Establishing partnerships with universities in Slovakia, the UK and Germany and creating a team for possible joint research in protein engineering is the main goal of the Aurora mini-grant, whose principal investigator is Lenka Dzurová from CATRIN. The project, which will last two and a half years, should increase the scientists’ chances in future grant calls and strengthen the European university alliance.

The young scientist has chosen foreign partner institutions for mutual cooperation, which, like her home institution, deal with protein engineering. In addition to the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, these include the University of East Anglia in the UK and the University Duisburg-Essen in Germany.

“The main task is to establish cooperation with at least two of these partners, from which we could then benefit when planning further activities.  Whether it is an exchange of knowledge or instruments or exchange visits of scientists. The ideal outcome of the grant should be a joint research project,” said Dzurová, who started the project in September this year.

The science and technology park in Košice, which is a university institute of the local university, is dedicated, among other things, to the development and description of peptides useful in medicine. The partners in Germany and the UK have large multidisciplinary teams that are able to tackle the subject from a variety of angles. The main focus of the CATRIN scientists in this project is recombinant proteins, especially peptides. These are antimicrobial substances that have the potential to be used in medicine as drugs or as antibiotic replacements.

The project, entitled Protein engineering in collaboration with appropriate Aurora Partner Universities, was successful in a competition of 27 applications. For Lenka Dzurová, this is the first project in which she is the principal investigator. “Even though it is a relatively small grant, I am happy to have received it. The preparation was quite challenging because I did it during my maternity leave. It is definitely a new experience that I will use in the future,” added the scientist.

In the pilot call at Palacký University, 18 submitted mini-grants were selected for funding with a total of more than CZK 1.6 million. The funding of these projects, paid directly from the resources of the Rector’s Office, will serve to further strengthen the Aurora Alliance and directly benefit the participating academics. Palacký University Olomouc joined the international university alliance Aurora, which brings together nine research universities across Europe, at the end of last year. Partners include Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, University of Iceland, Universität Innsbruck in Austria and Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. In addition to these, universities from the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy are also participating in the new venture. All participating schools are focusing intensively on sustainable development and other topical issues including climate change and digitalization.

Martina Šaradínová
October 19, 2021