International and Scientific Affairs

During 2013 the CRG continued consolidating and expanding its network of scientific collaborations and partnerships, in Spain, in Europe and across the globe.

Collaborations and activities to foster translational research

To promote translational research, the institute is nurturing its partnership with the Vall d´Hebron Research Institute (VHIR). This year the CRG and VHIR co-organised a course on exome sequencing for researchers and medical doctors with no bioinformatics expertise. The course has been very successful, and was oversubscribed in the first week after it was announced.

In March, the CRG signed a collaboration agreement with the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) to foster synergies, exchanges and future joint projects in translational research.

An important action was the launch of the 1st call for emergent translational research projects of CRG group leaders in collaboration with clinical researchers or health-related industries. Five proposals were submitted and two got 50,000 euros funding each: the first led by Isabelle Vernos in collaboration with the in vitro fertilization clinic EUGINE, and the second headed up by Stephan Ossowski in collaboration with the VHIR.

Finally, the CRG is contributing to the EU-LIFE translational research group to discuss strategies, opportunities and challenges in translating basic findings to the clinical and medical community.

Strategic alliances

The most important initiative promoted by the CRG at European level is EU-LIFE, a European strategic alliance of life sciences institutes of excellence. EU-LIFE was founded by the CRG in 2012, and now it is moving towards a more formal organisation. The objectives of this alliance, currently chaired by the CRG, are to promote excellence in research and better integration among European research institutes in life sciences, and to develop and share best practice in research, research management and training. The alliance now has 13 members: VIB (Belgium), Institut Curie (France), Gulbenkian Foundation (Portugal), European Institute of Oncology (Italy), Max Delbrück center for Molecular Medicine (Germany), CeMM (Austria), CEITEC (Czech Republic), NKI (the Netherlands), BRIC (Denmark), FMI (Switzerland), Babraham Institute (UK), FIMM (Finland). In May, we celebrated the first EU-LIFE Community Meeting which brought together more than 65 participants, including the directors of the institutes and other professionals divided into working groups on areas of common interest, such as technology transfer, communication, funding strategy, translational research, recruitment and training. Fabienne Gautier, responsible of the European Research Area (ERA) gave a keynote lecture at the meeting. The event was also covered in Science Insider.

International collaboration


This year we organized a joint scientific event with the Institute of Human Genetics (IGH) in Montpellier (France). The meeting stimulated interesting scientific discussions, mainly on epigenetics and chromatin structure.

Outside Europe

In May, the CRG signed a collaboration agreement for the creation of a Bi-national Research Centre with the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva of Argentina. The centre will enable the CRG to collaborate with several Argentinian research institutes, and in particular with the University of Buenos Aires. The collaboration will initially focus on computational and systems biology. Joint training activities, conferences, and scientific exchanges are planned.

This year the CRG, Wits University in South Africa and Novartis have launched a joint mobility programme. The programme has enabled 3 PhD fellows to work for six months in CRG laboratories on research themes of common interest to the CRG and Wits. The 3 students are co-supervised by Xavier Estivill, Roderic Guigó and Juan Valcarcel.

Coordination of collaborative scientific projects

The CRG is leading several Spanish and large European collaborative projects; and therefore contributes to advancing knowledge in diverse fields of biology and biomedical research, ranging from systems biology, cancer, epigenetics, cellular trafficking, and rare diseases to medical genomics. The 2013 portfolio includes:

  • 7 European projects: SysteMTb (Serrano), GEUVADIS (Estivill), Cure-FXS (Dierssen), BioPreDyn (Jaeger), 4DCellFate (Di Croce), Swarm-Organ (Sharpe); FLiACT (Louis)
  • 2 Spanish projects: RNAREG (Valcarcel), COAT (Malhotra)

Highlights include: the publication of two high-impact articles (Nature, Nature Biotech.) and the release of the European Exome Variant Server by the GEUVADIS Consortium; the organisation of an international workshop at the 2013 Keystone Conference “TB: Understanding the Enemy” in Whistler (Canada) by SysteMTb; and the organisation of a large symposium on “Sturctural and Functional Proteomics: Delving into Molecular Details” (Utrecht, January 14-15, 2013) by the 4DCellFate project.

In addition, the CRG leads the work package on community building in the ESFRI initiative on systems biology, known as the Infrastructure for Systems Biology – Europe (ISBE). In the framework of ISBE, the CRG developed and launched the European Systems Biolgy Community website (, a platform where all European life-scientists can find systems biology-related information and networking opportunities.

Members of the ISA team
Members of the ISA team