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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 mainly focus 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.

Faithful to its mission, a number of different technological innovations have been explored or implemented by the Programme’s Core Units during the past year, often in collaboration with CNIO Groups. This year, the CNIO made a significant investment in upgrading the mass spectrometry (MS) technology available at the Proteomics Unit ; the Centre acquired two modern MS instruments that will facilitate the performance of proteomics studies by improving sensitivity and throughput.

A significant proportion of the activities run by our Core Units are related to animal models. In line with our commitment to maintaining the highest possible standards related to animal research issues, the CNIO has this year joined the "Agreement on Openness on Animal Research" promoted by the Federation of Scientific Societies in Spain (COSCE) that was launched in September 2016. An institutional statement on the use of research animals is available on the CNIO website.

This year, the Programme and its Core Units were actively involved in several networking activities. Two of us were elected as members of the Executive Committee of the Core Technologies for Life Sciences (CTLS), a new scientific association aiming to create a network of scientists working at core facilities in Europe with the goal of addressing issues that are common to these facilities. In addition, the Unit Heads were very active in participating in other networks and scientific societies from their corresponding fields.

Also, as an indication of our high commitment to training, education and outreach, the Programme has been deeply involved with the organisation of courses, workshops, visits from students, and specialised meetings. We collaborated with the ‘ CNIO and the city ’ project, organised by the Communications Department with funding from the FECYT (Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología), organising a course for secondary school teachers that was highly successful and will be run again next year. Moreover, members of our staff participated in an increasing number of Masters and other training activities hosted at the CNIO and elsewhere.

This year, the Core Units were particularly active in attracting funding from external sources through activities related to innovation, including several contracts and agreements with private companies and public institutions, based on the technologies mastered by several of our Core Units. Also, the royalties derived from the sales of the antibodies produced by the Monoclonal Antibodies Unit have grown by about 5% over the previous year, reaching a new historical maximum.

Last but not least, 2017 has 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 about 20 publications, many of them appearing in top journals.