On the New Year’s Day, 20 months elapsed from my entering the position of Director of the Institute of Molecular Genetics. My main task was to ensure that the Institute works within the borders of a public research institution, to secure funding for our activities, and to contribute to transforming the so far and prospectively obtained funding, maintained within the appropriate regulations, to significant novel findings in the areas of our research in molecular and cell biology and genetics. During this period, scientific research was conducted in 29 research groups (21 in Krč, 7 in Vestec within the framework of project BIOCEV, and one in Dejvice) and in three large national infrastructures (two in Krč, Czech Bioimaging and CZ-OPENSCREEN, and one in Vestec, Czech Centre for Phenogenomics). Our researchers also devote an essential part of their activities to education at various levels, starting from high school and university students to PhD students and postdocs. At present, our Institute counts almost 600 employees and by its size ranks at the fifth position among the Academy institutes. Approximately 2/3 of our employees work in Krč, about 1/3 are included in project BIOCEV at the detached site in Vestec, and a small part is active at the detached locations in Dejvice and at the Koleč farm. For more effective management, the Research Services and the Administrative and Technical Management have been set apart as individual units providing specific supporting activities to the Institute.
In the past period, the results of our research were presented at international meetings and symposia, including those organized by IMG employees, and published in a number of important international journals, which also comprise those most prestigious worldwide, such as Nature Letters, Nature Immunology, Nature Communications, The EMBO Journal, Molecular Cell, Nucleic Acids Research, and many others. Activities of the research groups have also resulted in a number of applications and patents, which in many cases reflected collaboration with the business sphere and brought considerable financial support to our budget. To facilitate obtaining such funding and applying our results in practice, IMG reinforced its Technology Transfer Office (TTO) and started cooperation with company i&i Prague, which exploits expertise obtained with the commercialization of scientific outputs at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. In addition, with the aid of the Academy management and the Centre of Administration and Operations of the CAS, v. v. i., the establishment of a common TTO for the academic partners in Krč and BIOCEV is now under preparation on the Krč campus.
At present, the majority of funding for our tasks in basic research is obtained as specific funding from grant agencies and other providers. The contribution of our founder does not exceed 40 %. It is therefore not surprising that we now work on 131 grants and projects from various providers, including the Czech Science Foundation (56 projects), Academy of Sciences (19), Ministry of Education (17), EU (10), Ministry of Health (8), and others. On average, it means more than four projects per each research group and infrastructure. Although specific funding is more than desirable, for financial planning in the longer terms, these sources are always uncertain, and we can therefore only wish fulfillment of the words of Academy President Eva Zažímalová concerning institutional funding that should be annually increased. To improve conditions for preparing grant applications and obtaining specific funding, a grant administration group headed by Věra Chvojková was established last year within the administrative team, which systematically monitors sources of grant funding, informs on them at our intranet, and helps prepare grant submissions and assists during grant agency inspections.
A separate chapter is the project BIOCEV, with our Institute as its guarantor, which now enters the fourth year of the project sustainability. This project was supported by the EU operational funds, and it is our duty to ensure fulfillment of the set up compulsory indicators and coverage of the arisen operational costs at least until the end of 2020. In this regard, we may state that the sustainability indicators are successfully fulfilled not only from the view of the managing organ (particularly the Ministry of Education) but also from the view of our Institute needs. Concerning the provision of operational costs, the situation is more difficult because finances for the operation of our Institute are not automatically transferred to our budget within the institutional funding, but we have to request them from our founder as part of specific funding, and it cannot always be predicted whether, in what final amount and at what date this funding will be obtained. At present, the future of project BIOCEV is debated at the level of the Academy Council and the statutory representatives of the partner organizations (six Academy institutes and two faculties of Charles University). The preferred variant ensuring effective utilization of all newly established structures and infrastructures within BIOCEV project seems to be a continuation of the project arrangement of the BIOCEV Centre while preserving the existing status of the partner organizations defined by the Partner Contract. In this variant, the Institute of Biotechnology is residing in Vestec, and the other Academy partners and Charles University have in Vestec their detached sites. Following this concept, a series of BIOCEV-Krč methodology seminars has been started, with a focus on the introduction to the unique instruments and methods used by the institutes within BIOCEV on the Krč campus. These seminars are co-organized by the Academy partners of project BIOCEV and take place in the institutes located in Krč or Vestec.
An essential role in the functioning of the entire Institute is played by the administrative and technical teams in Krč and BIOCEV. The Administrative and Technical Management in Krč underwent partial modification through the establishment of Public Tender (PT) Administration within the administrative team and preparation and observation of a PT Directive. The IMG Administrative and Technical Management also includes the Economy Department, newly headed by Kamila Dařinová, the IT Department, and the Building Administration. Closer association and more effective and conceptual direction of the administrative and technical management at both localities should be facilitated by a nomination of Martin Polák as Deputy Director for Administrative Matters of BIOCEV and IMG. With high probability, in 2019 we will have to transfer to a new economy information system, and we can only wish this transfer to proceed without problems. The building activities were limited in the past period to starting repairs of the Krč animal facility, smaller renovation of the hygienic spaces at the detached site in Koleč, and minor repairs and maintenance at the other localities. In 2019, we expect extensive improvements of the electron microscopy facility in the main building in Krč in association with the installation of a new electron microscope and completion of spaces in a part of the Czech Bioimaging infrastructure. In our administrative team, with intensive support of our founder, we have discussed and still are adressing the “legalization” of the IMG guesthouse on the Krč campus, with the aim to purchase this building from its owner. A considerable challenge could also be, in case we obtain support for the collaborative project with MPI-CBG in Dresden (ARIB), renovations at IMG both within the BIOCEV project and in Krč.
We want to present ourselves more extensively both inside and outside the Institute. After improving the project BIOCEV website and making it more clearly arranged, changes should also be made to the Institute website. No less important is a reinforcement of the social networks. For these reasons, we have engaged a new PhD administrator, Martin Jakubec, who will help the PhD Committee with an application of the PhD programme and its activities, as well as with more extensive utilization of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and with an improvement of the contacts with the public in general.
Similarly as in previous years, in 2018 the Institute researchers obtained many awards, including Praemium Academiae (Jiří Hejnar), two Jan Evangelista Purkyne Honorary Medals of Merits in Science (Jiří Forejt and Václav Hořejší), and one EMBO membership (Petr Svoboda). I also consider gaining another ERC grant as an outstanding success of the group of Ondřej Štěpánek.
In the end, I would like to thank all the Institute employees, both in the scientific and supporting units, for their work in the past period, and I am looking forward to further collaboration and exciting discoveries at all our workplaces.
January 2, 2019
Last change: January 8, 2019