Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence

Information about the Faculty of Biophycisc, Biochemistry and Biotechnology related to the Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence – a programme initiated by the Max Planck Society (MPG), jointly managed with the National Science Centre in Poland (NCN) and mutually funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

More about the programme: www.ncn.gov.pl/dioscuri/

Scientific institution data

Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University
7 Gronostajowa St., 30-387 Krakow, Poland

Head of the institution:

Vice-Rector of the Jagiellonian University responsible for  Research and Structural Funds:
Professor Stanisław Kistryn 

Dean of the Faculty Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University:
Professor Zbigniew Madeja

Contact information of designated person for applicants and NCN (National Science Centre in Poland)

Professor Zbigniew Madeja

Dean's Office: 
room: D210 (1.1.6) 
phone: +48 12 664 60 02 
fax.: +48 12 664 69 02
email: z.madeja@uj.edu.pl

Description of important research achievements from the selected discipline from the last 5 years (including most important publications, patents)

The  Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology (FBBB) consists of 16 Departments and a smaller unit reffered to as the Laboratory. It employs 234 people, including 143 members of the academic staff (25 full professors, 19 associate professors, 85 assistant professors, 9 assistants and 5 lecturers). The rest is an important group of people working behind-the-scenes (56 members of laboratory staff, 15 of technical support staff, and 19 of administrative and service staff). Research conducted at the Faculty includes contemporary biochemical, biophysical and biotechnological aspects of biological objects ranging from the molecular level through the cellular and up to the level of whole animal and plant organisms (www.wbbib.uj.edu.pl/en_GB/badania-naukowe-na-wbbib). 
Faculty members are highly motivated to scientific work. In 2016 they published in peer-reviewed international journals more than 180 scientific papers. According to Web of Science the total number of citations of articles with the affiliation of the Faculty exceeds 13 000 and the h-index equals to 45. It is worth to mention that Faculty Members start to translate academic research into the commercial arena. Currently there are 9 patents at national, EU or USA level. 
As a result of different competitions 117 research projects carried out in 2016 at the Faculty are supported by the external funding agencies. Among them the National Science Centre supports 75 basic research projects, the National Centre for Research and Development – 8 applied research projects, Ministry of Science and Higher Education – 22 projects, 5 projects are supported by European Funds and 1 by the Wellcome Trust. 
In 2000, the Institute of Molecular Biology, a predecessor to the Faculty of Biochemistry Biophysics and Biotechnology was awarded the European Commision grant as the Centre of Excellence BIER, acronym of Biotechnology – Integration of Education and Research. According to the latest rating of scientific units in Poland conducted in 2013 and in 2017 by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education the Faculty belongs to the elite research units of category A+. In 2014, the Faculty as a part of the Jagiellonian Research and Business Consortium for Biomolecular and Cellular Sciences has won the competition for the prestigious status of the Leading National Research Centre (Polish acronym: KNOW). 
The examples of the most important publications during last 5 years:
  • Adamiak M, Cheng G, Bobis-Wozowicz S, Zhao L, Kedracka-Krok S, Samanta A, Karnas E, Xuan Y, Skupien-Rabian B, Chen X, Jankowska U, Girgis M, Sekula M, Davani A, Lasota S, Vincent RJ, Sarna M, Newell KL, Wang O, Dudley N, Madeja Z, Dawn B, Zuba-Surma EK. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC)-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Are Safer and More Effective for Cardiac Repair than iPSCs. Circulation Research. 2017;CIRCRESAHA.117.311769, IF=13.97
  • Marona P, Górka J, Mazurek Z, Wilk W, Rys J, Majka M, Jura J, Miekus K. MCPIP1 downregulation in clear cell renal cell carcinoma promotes vascularization and metastatic progression. Cancer Res. 2017;17. pii: canres.3190.2016; IF=8.6
  • Kotkowiak M, Dudkowiak A, Fiedor L. Intrinsic Photoprotective Mechanisms in Chlorophylls. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017;doi: 10.1002/anie.201705357; IF=11.9
  • Sarewicz M, Bujnowicz Ł, Bhaduri S, Singh SK, Cramer WA, Osyczka A. Metastable radical state, nonreactive with oxygen, is inherent to catalysis by respiratory and photosynthetic cytochromes bc1/b6f.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A2017;114(6):1323-1328; IF=9.3
  • Fiedor, L., Heriyanto, Fiedor, J., and Pilch, M. Effects of molecular symmetry on the electronic transitions in carotenoids, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 7. 2016;1821-1829. IF = 9.35.
  • Ciesla M, Marona P, Kozakowska M, Jez M, Seczynska M, Loboda A, Bukowska-Strakova K, Szade A, Walawender M, Kusior M, Stepniewski J, Szade K, Krist B, Yagensky O, Urbanik A, Kazanowska B, Dulak J, Jozkowicz.  A. Heme Oxygenase-1 Controls an HDAC4-miR-206 Pathway of Oxidative Stress in Rhabdomyosarcoma. Cancer Res2016;76(19):5707-5718; IF=8.6
  • Sarewicz M, Osyczka A. Electronic connection between the quinone and cytochrome C redox pools and its role in regulation of mitochondrial electron transport and redox signaling. Physiol Rev2015;95(1):219-43; IF=37.22

The examples of rewarded patents:

  • Inventors: M Bereta, P Chorobik  – Strain of Salmonella enterica s. typhimurium, its use and a method to obtain a therapeutic vaccine vector – US Patent 8,916,372, 2014 
  • Inventors: K. Pyrc, K. Stozek, J. Potempa – Method of rna viruses identification and its application; application number: PCT/PL2013/050032 
  • Inventors: K. Pyrc, A. Milewska, M. Nowakowska, K. Szczubialka, K. Kaminski – The use of chitosan polymer in the treatment and prevention of infections caused by coronaviruses; application number: EP20130729822

List of 3 important research projects from the selected discipline awarded in national and international calls to the institution in the last 5 years (title, name of PI, source of funding, amount of funding)

  • Prof. Artur Osyczka – Consequences of faulty electron transfer induced by asymmetric cytochrome bc1 for mitochondrial respiratory disease and aging – The Wellcome Trust Grant; years: 2011-2017 
  • Dr. Martyna Elas – New therapies for uveal melanoma – EU project; Horizon 2020, years: 2016-2019
  • Prof. Jan Potempa – Protein citrullination as a link between periodontal diseases and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and target for development of novel drugs to treat RA – FP7 EU project; years: 2010-2014

Description of the available laboratory and office space for Dioscuri Centre

The laboratory unit consists of three rooms:
  1. Laboratory space of 47.5 m2
  2. Office room for the laboratory head of 11.6 m2
  3. Office room for research assistants of 11.2 m2
The research laboratory is air-conditioned. It is equipped with a main 3750 × 1500 mm island laboratory workbench and two short wall laboratory tables. The main bench is equipped with a sink connected to the sanitary sewage system. Additionally, both wall tables are equipped with containers for harmful substances that require disposal.
The installed ventilation system allows connection of a fume hood and laminar flow cabinet.
The facilities are equipped with the Ethernet local area network (LAN) that is connected to the university network with an access to Internet. There is also an access to the university wireless local network. The island table in the lab is also equipped with LAN sockets. The distribution point for the network is in an adjoining room, so the number of LAN sockets can easily be increased if required.
The laboratory and office space might be furnished with additional equipment according to the individual needs of the person using these rooms.

List of the available scientific equipment for Dioscuri Centre

Since 2001 the FBBB occupies a modern "intelligent building" located on the Campus of the 600th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Jagiellonian University, shortly called the Third Campus.
Whole LIFE Science Campus of the Jagiellonian University is located at Pychowice region in Krakow. The Faculty consists of 16 Departments and 1 Laboratory. Researchers use modern experimental and computational methods in standard and specialized laboratories, equipped with modern scientific instruments. More detailed description of methods/techniques is provided here: www.wbbib.uj.edu.pl/en_GB/badania-naukowe-na-wbbib
The Faculty possesses different kind of flow cytometers, including imaging flow cyometers, spectrophotometers, including electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer), different kind of microscopes, including laser microdissection microscope and confocal microscope, bioanalyzers. Furthermore, the Faculty has separated greenhouse and animal facilities. Modern animal research facility is furnished with individually ventilated cages and the latest classes equipment, among other things with the high resolution ultrasonography, image stream system, laser capture microdissection, laser Doppler blood perfusion imager, in vivo bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging system began to operate. The animal facility has the capacity to house over 1000 mice in 4 animal rooms.
The Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology is in the neighbourhood of Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology (MCB) that serves as a link between three different groups: scientists working on the high performance equipment, entrepreneurs commercializing basic science achievements and local society interested in diagnostic tests. The Faculty members collaborate closely with MCB members within joint projects. Among them are studies encompassing transcriptome and proteome profiles of different biological systems. 
What is more important, the Faculty members may have an access to  Academic Computer Centre CYFRONET AGH. This Center is established by the National Committee for Scientific Research as the unit leader in the operation and expansion of the hardware base of the high performance computers (HPC) as well as the urban and academic network (Metropolitan Area Network – MAN). The core network of the Cracow MAN is in the Old Town area, but the network also covers the academic campus of Jagiellonian University at Pychowice. MAN offers the users a computing power, a wide range of network services, as well as disk and tape storage resources. The Cracow MAN is directly connected to the Upper Silesia, Warsaw and Rzeszów regions with 2x10 Gbps PIONIER links. The PIONIER network enables communication with major national and foreign computing centres. International connectivity is achieved through the GEANT scientific network. In addition to the GEANT network, the Centre is also connected to the TaliaSonera backbone via a 550 Mbps backup link. Details regarding the operation of the Academic Computer Centre CYFRONET AGH are presented with the link: www.cyfronet.krakow.pl/en/13080,artykul,about_us.html

List of the additional benefits that the Institution declares to provide for Dioscuri Centre

According to the rules of the competition, the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology (FBBB) undertakes to provide the following basic conditions: 
  • To ensure full-time employment to the winner of the Dioscuri competition during the entire period of funding of the Dioscuri Center (and also if funding is continued);
  • To employ members of the Dioscuri Center team from the funds given to the scientific institution under the Dioscuri budget (form of employment to be agreed by the winner, the institution and a specific team member: employment contract, contract of mandate/ to perform a specific task, scholarship); 
  • To provide additional funds to be used by the Dioscuri Center in the amount equivalent to at least 25 000 euros per year during the entire period of funding of the Dioscuri Center (and also if funding is continued); 
  • To provide optimal conditions necessary to conduct scientific research, including: laboratory or office space, research facilities/apparatus depending on the nature of the specific research task; 
  • To ensure administrative and financial support during the entire period of funding of the Dioscuri Center (and also if it continues to operate), especially at the beginning of its operation; 
  • To provide one administrative officer (who speaks English fluently) for the entire period of funding of the Dioscuri Center (and also if it continues its operation) to work full-time and only for the Dioscuri Center, employed at the expense of the scientific institution. 

Also, the FBBB is obliged to provide:

  • Additional funds for scientific research within the framework of its statutory operation on the same principles as that applied to all organizational units established within the Faculty;
  • Financial support of scientific projects; 
  • Full freedom of selection of scientific issues to be addressed;
  • Opportunity to interact with polish and foreign students, supervise MSc and PhD projects, deliver lectures and conduct seminars; 
  • Funds for PhD scholarships according to the rules applied by the Faculty;
  • Possibility to perform educational activity; 
  • Possibility to fully participate in all events organized by the Faculty and the Jagiellonian University; 
  • Social benefits offered by the Jagiellonian University (allowances, holiday subsidies, childcare benefits, Multisport cards, trips and home loans);
  • Possibility to obtain employment once the project is completed according to the general rules applied by the Faculty.

Other information about internationalization of the scientific institution, foreign scientists employed at the institution, availability of the English language seminars etc.

Scientific groups from FBBB participate in international scientific consortiums and realize 8 international research projects funded by the European Commission, 2 projects within a Polish-Swiss programme, 1 project within a Polish-Norwegian programme, 2 Wellcome Trust projects, 1 NIH project, and 1 project financed by the US Agency for Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

The Faculty has established broad international collaboration. Faculty members visit regularly  prestigious academic institutions, for example: Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, University of Louisville, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Chicago, University of California, Santa Barbara. All together it was 24 stays during last 4 years, which in total last longer than 3 months. 

Many scientists from all over the world visit the Faculty each year giving lectures and participating in joint research programmes. Since 2015, the Faculty has been visited by more than 20 researchers. Seven of them gave a number  of lectures for students, doctoral students, and the faculty members. Among of them were: dr Lev Weiner from Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, prof. Hozumi Motohashi from Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Japan, prof. Alexander Henning Ulrich from Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, and prof. Martine Jager from Leiden University Medical Centre.

Faculty members participated in organization of 8 international scientific conferences and workshops during last 4 years:

  • Central European Congress of Life Sciences EUROBIOTECH 2017, Kraków 
  • IXth International Workshop on EPR in Biology and Medicine – 2016, Kraków
  • 17th European Congress on Biotechnology – 2016, Kraków
  • Xth International Workshop on EPR Workshop in Biology and Medicine – 2016, Kraków
  • Regulatory myeloid cells (MRC) in health and disease – 2015, Kraków
  • 29th Annual Conference of the European Macrophage and Dendritic Cell Society – 2015, Kraków
  • Perspectives in Medical Biotechnology – 2015, Kraków
  • From genome to proteome (International winter school of FBBB)  – 2015, Zakopane
  • Infections, chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases (International winter school of FBBB) – 2014, Ustroń

FBBB hosts Laboratoire International Associé (LIA) – the only such laboratory in Poland in the field of life sciences (and one of only a dozen or so in the world), resulting from the agreement between the French research agency CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and the Jagiellonian University (biotka.mol.uj.edu.pl/zbm/index.php?tresc=pl_fr_lab). The LIA has been active during the period 2013-2016 and its functioning has now been extended for another 4 years.) The purpose of this virtual lab is to study the role of non-coding RNA molecules in tumour processes and to seek new therapeutic strategies. The research carried out within the LIA has resulted in numerous publications, scientific workshops (2013-Paris, 2014-Kraków, 2016-Orleans), an international conference (2015-Kraków) and a winter school (2016-Rytro). These meetings were attended not only by the researchers from the FBBB and CBM CNRS, but also by researchers from other French and Polish centres and, in the international conference, lecturers from the USA, South Africa, Finland, and Italy. Thanks to the achievements of the LIA, the proposal to extend the laboratory for the next four years (2017-2020) has been positively evaluated.

The Faculty offers six batchelor's and master's programmes conducted in Polish language and one master's programme in English. We also offer Ph.D. studies in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology and two programmes for postgraduates students (Business in biotechnology and Molecular biology). "Molecular Biotechnology " is a programme of studies for foreign students leading to the MSc degree. Students are recruited from all over the world. At the end of the programme the student must write a Master's thesis, which describes the results of the research project. The results of this project are presented during a Faculty seminar for candidates for a master's degree.