Image: A. Garrido, CNIO
The certification as Excellence Centre will give CNIO one million euro a year over the next four years. This will strengthen the Centre’s leading position in basic and translational cancer research at the global level, enabling researchers to carry out highly innovative projects with a big potential for knowledge transfer
The evaluation committee considered CNIO’s high-performance indicators in all the areas under consideration – the basis for the Centre’s significant international contribution to the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer and the finding of new roads to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment
The Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) has had its certification renewed as Severo Ochoa Excellence Centre. This is the third time in a row that CNIO has been granted this renowned certification, framed within the Severo Ochoa Excellence Centre/María de Maeztu Excellence Unit Programme. The announcement was made by the State Research Agency (AEI), an agency of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.
The call for excellence centres/units is very demanding. High excellence standards apply to candidates, which are thoroughly evaluated by internationally renowned scientists on the basis of their scientific results and strategic programmes.
The evaluation committee described CNIO as an outstanding centre with high-performance indicators in all the areas under consideration: state-of-the-art facilities; innovative strategic plan; complementary basic and clinical research areas; scientific output and publications in high-impact journals as a measure of the significant international contribution to the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer and the finding of new roads to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment; international collaborations; technology transfer strategy; gender equality plan; and young researcher training and mentoring, among others.
The certification as Excellence Centre will give CNIO four million euro over the next four years. This will strengthen the Centre’s leading position in basic and translational cancer research at the global level, enabling researchers to carry out highly innovative projects with a big potential for knowledge transfer and to discover new cancer drugs and compounds.
“It’s amazing news, and it comes at a time when facts are showing, more clearly than ever before, that the wellbeing of men and women is closely linked with biomedical research,” says CNIO Director Maria Blasco. “CNIO is proof that there are powerful, competitive research centres in Spain, on a par with the world’s top institutions. We can pursue excellence in science, and we can turn this into innovative strategies that attract private investors from the global pharma industry. The Severo Ochoa Programme is a useful tool to boost research and innovation in our country, as it enables research centres to design five-year strategic plans by offering additional, flexible funding.”
Excellence over time
The certification as Severo Ochoa Excellence Centre or María de Maeztu Excellence Unit is aimed at channelling funds into leading research centres or units in any scientific field, with a high international impact and active participation in their social and business environment. The Severo Ochoa Excellence Centres and María de Maeztu Excellence Units are highly competitive organisations that boast ahead-of-the-curve research programmes that place them among the world’s leading centres in their fields of expertise.
The Severo Ochoa Excellence Centres and María de Maeztu Excellence Units are evaluated and chosen by an international scientific committee whose members are renowned experts. The certification is valid for four years. Every four years, the centres or units must enter the competition again to have their certification renewed.
In addition to CNIO, these are the institutions that have been certified as Severo Ochoa Excellence Centres: the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT), the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE), the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB), the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), and the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM).
As to the newly-certified María de Maeztu Excellence Units, they include the Institute of Molecular Science (ICMol) at the University of Valencia, the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ITCA) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICC) at the University of Barcelona, the IMDEA Energy Institute, the Department of Agronomy at the University of Córdoba, and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES).
The Severo Ochoa Excellence Centre/María de Maeztu Excellence Unit Programme offers a total 52 million euro in funding – one million a year for each Severo Ochoa Excellence Centre and 500 thousand euro a year for each María de Maeztu Excellence Unit for four years.
The CNIO is a Spanish public institution dedicated to the research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and affiliated to the Carlos III Institute of Health (Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities). It is one of the 10 leading cancer research centres in the world (Scimago Institutions Rankings World Report; Nature Index) and covers the entire R&D and Innovation spectrum, from basic research to the clinic, with a view to transferring the results quickly and efficiently to the National Health System and to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology market.
The CNIO has an Experimental Therapeutics Program that covers the initial stages of the development of drugs directed against the therapeutic targets its scientists are working on. Some of the CNIO’s compounds have been licensed to international pharmaceutical companies. In addition, the CNIO is actively involved in ‘open innovation’ programs of international pharmaceutical companies, which has resulted in an influx of more than 25 million euros into the CNIO in the past 6 years. Finally, three spin-off companies have emerged from the CNIO, which have also allowed patients to benefit from the centre’s developments. These data reflect the Institution’s commitment to innovation and technology transfer and illustrate the importance of public-private collaboration for the advancement in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Moreover, the CNIO strives to bring science closer to society through initiatives like CNIO Arte, a project that gathers scientists and artists in the creation of a work of art based on scientific research, or CNIO Friends, a philanthropic platform where individuals, companies and organisations can make contributions to help cancer research at the Centre; the funds raised have facilitated the establishment of a competitive ‘CNIO Friends’ International Contract Programme to engage research talent.