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Biotechnology Programme

The main mission of the Biotechnology Programme is to provide expert technical support and advice to CNIO Research Groups in a number of disciplines and technologies widely used in biomedical research, as well as to implement and develop state-of-the-art biotechnological tools and reagents for cancer research. The Programme is currently composed of nine Core Units covering major areas in Biotechnology, namely, Genomics, Proteomics, Monoclonal Antibodies, Histopathology, Flow Cytometry, Confocal Microscopy, Molecular Imaging and Transgenic Mice, as well as an Animal Facility. Although the Core Units are mainly focused on meeting the internal demand and collaborating with the CNIO Research Groups, they also provide support and collaborate with groups from other public institutions, as well as with private companies.

In 2016, the Programme was significantly reinforced with the recruitment of 9 young technicians who are funded for a 2-year period by the programme Ayudas para la Promoción de Empleo Joven e Implantación de la Garantía Juvenil en I+D+i del Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad.

This year, the CNIO Animal Facility obtained full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC); this recognition reflects the high standards achieved by the CNIO with regards to the use and care of animals for experimentation.

Faithful to its mission, a number of different technological innovations have been explored or implemented by the Core Units during this last year, often in collaboration with CNIO Groups. Noteworthy examples include the application of CRISPR technology for the generation of mouse models, the generation of monoclonal antibodies against small molecules, the application of proteomic approaches to the study of exosomes, the development of immunoPET approaches for tumour imaging, the expansion of multicolour capabilities in flow cytometry studies, and the application of microfluidics-based setups to advanced microscopy, to name a few.

In 2016, the Programme and its Core Units have been particularly active in networking activities. This included the participation of several of our Programme members in the Core Technologies for Life Sciences (CTLS) meeting at EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany, where the first steps were taken towards the organisation of a new scientific association addressing core facilities issues (CTLS). In addition, several Unit Heads were very active in participating in networks and scientific societies from their corresponding fields. Also, the Programme Director was voted as President-Elect of the Spanish Society of Biotechnology (SEBiot), highlighting the prominent role of the CNIO in this area.

Also, as an indication of our high commitment to training and education, the Programme has been involved in the organisation of courses, workshops and specialised meetings. Moreover, an increasing number of our staff members undertook Masters and other training activities, at the CNIO and elsewhere.

This year, the Core Units were particularly successful in attracting funding from external sources through activities related to innovation ; several contracts and agreements with private companies and public institutions, based on the technologies mastered by several of our Core Units, were formalised. Also, the royalties derived from the sales of the antibodies produced by the Monoclonal Antibodies Unit have grown by about 16% over the previous year, reaching a new historical maximum.

Last but not least, 2016 has once again been a very productive year, scientifically, for the Programme. The contribution of the Units to the overall scientific performance of the CNIO is reflected in nearly 30 publications, many of them appearing in top journals.