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EU $220 million grant supports Mayo-Czech research using 'space station' approach

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic will receive $10 million in research funding from the European Union (EU) as part of a $220 million grant to its collaborator, the St. Anne's University Hospital in Brno, the Czech Republic. The overall award will be used to support clinical research and education at the International Clinical Research Center (ICRC) at St. Anne's and will focus initially on cardiovascular and neurological studies. Mayo's portion will support the collaboration in the United States. It is anticipated that because of the novel research involved, the center's work will advance medical research, education and patient care in Europe and beyond.

The ICRC-Mayo application for the EU funds received the highest rating on scientific quality of all entries and is believed to mark the first time a U.S. research institution has received a significant portion of a major EU medical research award, says Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo principal investigator in the collaboration and the center's international scientific director.

"This is the result of a long-term collaboration between us and our Czech colleagues, and we are excited to see it has gained such substantial support," Dr. Somers says. "The magnitude and scope of this grant indicates that the EU has recognized Brno and the Czech Republic as one of the emerging leaders in innovative medical research in Europe."

Part of the funding will pay for the center's expanding facilities, now under construction on the St. Anne's University Hospital campus in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic. It also will support research collaborations with other medical centers across Europe.

"The ICRC will function much like the international space station," explains Tomas Kara, M.D., Ph.D., head of the ICRC and Brno's lead investigator on the grant, who trained at Mayo Clinic. "Fellow researchers will come from other countries to work together in the new center to solve problems confronting patients and physicians around the world. This approach will shorten the research process by half."

The ICRC-Mayo collaboration has relationships with researchers in Brussels; Barcelona, Spain; Gdansk, Poland; London and Milan and at the University of Minnesota.

The Mayo Clinic-ICRC collaboration in Brno and the grant application were fostered by a decade of close scientific relationships between the investigators in both institutions. The project directors and leaders of the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, which includes Mayo and the University of Minnesota, made several trips to the Czech Republic to meet with government leaders about the relationship, which is a priority among Mayo's international research initiatives.

"This is great news for both the Czech Republic and for Minnesota," says Eric Wieben, Ph.D., Minnesota Partnership director and Mayo's associate dean for research collaborations. "There are no borders to medical research. We look forward to a long and productive relationship."

"We hope that the integrated approach to research and clinical medicine in the ICRC, and its capacity of rapid translation of recent discoveries into clinical practice, will lead to a continuous process of improvement and advancement in the quality of care we provide for our patients," says Petr Koska, CEO of St. Anne's University Hospital.

Sixty percent of the $220 million will come from the EU and 40 percent from the Czech government, Southern Moravian County and St. Anne's University Hospital, where Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, worked in 1848. The center will become fully operational in autumn 2012 and is located only 200 yards from where Mendel conducted his life's research.


Contact: Robert Nellis
Mayo Clinic

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