Studies on the complex mechanisms of brain plasticity and on electromagnetic radiation will be conducted in two new research centres that will be established using the funds granted under the International Research Agendas Programme (IRAP) competition, run by the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP).

Both centres will be opened in Warsaw – one at the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and the other at the Institute of High Pressure Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. They will be led by outstanding Polish researchers with globally recognised achievements. The Foundation granted funding for the implementation of both projects in the open  nationwide IRAP competition No. 8/2017 as a result of a multi-stage evaluation procedure featuring foreign reviewers and experts.

BRAINCITY – studies on the human brain

BRAINCITY – Centre of Excellence for Neural Plasticity and Brain Disorders is the name of the new centre to be established in cooperation with the Warsaw-based Nencki Institute. The centre will be led by prof. Leszek Kaczmarek and dr Ewelina Knapska. The objective of BRAINCITY founders is to understand and make use of the complex plasticity of the human brain to treat diseases. “Our knowledge of neurobiology, brain functions and dysfunctions has increased exponentially in the recent years. All these substantial technological and methodological achievements will be used in BRAINCITY. The overriding goal of our activities will be to develop new solutions improving the prevention, diagnostics, monitoring and treatment of diseases and pathologies related to neuroplasticity,” said prof. Leszek Kaczmarek. The project’s international strategic partner will be the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). Tackling this major research challenge will be possible with the close cooperation between research communities, specialising in various scientific, clinical and industrial domains. The BRAINCITY project has received more than PLN 39 million worth of financing for a period of five years.

Studies on “the forgotten band” at the CENTERA centre

“The forgotten band” or “the Terahertz gap” will be studied by outstanding Polish physicists, authors of the second winning project in the IRAP competition: Professors Wojciech Knap and Thomas Skotnicki. CENTERA, or the Centre for Terahertz Research and Applications, will be based at the Institute of High Pressure Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. The project’s foreign partners will be Goethe University Frankfurt and CNRS: Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology in Lille.

Terahertz radiation is electromagnetic radiation within the band of frequencies around 1012 Hz. This name refers to frequencies between infrared light and microwaves. Even though it was discovered a long time ago, it has remained virtually unused on a mass scale. “The terahertz gap offers limitless potential for exploration for both science and business. Unlike X-rays and UV radiation, THz waves are not harmful to humans or animals. THz waves can have a number of interesting applications – in communication, industry, agriculture and trade,” said prof. Wojciech Knap. To tackle the project objectives, its founders are going to assemble an interdisciplinary team consisting of leading researchers in physics, chemistry, materials science, electronics, information technology, telecommunications, and life sciences. For the CENTERA project, the Foundation has allocated more than PLN 34 million worth of financing for a period of five years.

About the International Research Agendas Programme (IRAP)

The International Research Agendas Programme (IRAP) has been implemented by FNP since November 2015 using the funds from the Smart Growth Operational Programme (SG OP). The objective of the programme is to establish in Poland a range of specialised research centres that will conduct internationally competitive scientific research.

To date, IRAP financing has been granted to seven projects, including the ReMedy centre, which was established at the Centre of New Technologies, University of Warsaw (CeNT UW) and is headed by Prof. Agnieszka Chacińska and Prof. Magda Konarska. CeNT UW also hosts The Centre for Quantum Optical Technologies  headed by prof. Konrad Banaszek, whose international strategic partner is the University of Oxford. Another project implemented as part of the IRAP is the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science (ICCVS). The ICCVS was launched at the University of Gdańsk by two scientists from abroad: Prof. Theodore Hupp and Prof. Robin Fahraeus.

A new competition under the International Research Agendas Programme has been announced on 23 July. Applications can be submitted by outstanding scientists from all over the world who would like to implement an IRAP project at a unit located in Poland, excluding the Mazowieckie Province. Applications must be submitted by 14 September 2018. Details are available on the IRAP website.

Source and more information: FNP