ICTER is changing into a Centre of Excellence! “Teaming for Excellence” competition within Horizon Europe resolved

The International Centre for Eye Research (ICTER) is one of the winners of the prestigious “Teaming for Excellence” competition within Horizon Europe (HE). The funding will allow the establishment of a Centre of Excellence. ICTER’s current mission – creating modern ophthalmic diagnostic tools and combating eye diseases affecting over 250 million people worldwide – will be implemented on an even larger scale.

The Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IChF), under the Translational Research and Innovation in Ophthalmology Vision – Centre of Excellence (TRIO-VI CoE), will elevate the existing sub-unit, the International Centre for Translational Eye Research (ICTER), to a Centre of Scientific Excellence. The new Centre for Scientific Excellence will operate in Warsaw and will be established in cooperation with strategic partners: the Institute of Ophthalmology from University College London and the Institut de la Vision at Sorbonne Université. ICTER CoE will continue the Centre’s mission to date, which is to advance new technologies leading to the development of new eye treatment methods in the fields of minimally invasive surgery, biochemical control of protein machinery, genetic repair of inherited diseases, and tissue engineering; and also, the advancement of optical imaging technology and state-of-the-art robotics to assist in eye surgery and drug delivery.

The project leader is Prof. Maciej Wojtkowski, who almost 25 years ago built the first laboratory system for examining the retina and changed the paradigm of eye imaging.

ICTER CoE is a milestone aimed at unleashing the full scientific and commercialization potential of ICTER and intensifying its impact on society, science, education, and health by accelerating the introduction of therapies and new solutions in eye protection. The project is a response to the growing global health problem associated with eye diseases – lack of early diagnosis for many diseases, lack of effective therapies slowing down the progression of the disease, and – most importantly – lack of effective methods of restoring vision. The ambitious goal of ICTER CoE is to contribute to overcoming each of the above barriers, improving patients’ quality of life, and reducing the burden on national healthcare systems.

The main scientific goal of the ICTER CoE is to thoroughly investigate the dynamics and plasticity of the human eye, which will translate into the development of new therapies and diagnostic tools. The most important challenges facing the ICTER CoE include:

• creating modern methods of optical eye imaging and diagnostic tools for ophthalmological practice;

• deciphering the mechanisms of eye diseases – both rare and common;

• developing gene therapies and alternative methods of treating existing vision disorders;

• educating and training young scientists and doctors;

• creating a virtual eye clinic;

Centres of Excellence are a way to develop the best research institutes

Creating new or improving existing Centres of Excellence is an effective instrument for including Polish scientific and research institutions in the world elite. In our country, there are currently 4 projects implemented as part of the “Teaming for Excellence” programme, and three more are now joining. In addition to ICTER, the Astronomical Center named after Nicolaus Copernicus Polish Academy of Sciences (Astrocent Plus) and Łukasiewicz Research Network – PORT Polish Center for Technology Development (P4Health). Poland is the only country that received funding for three projects in this prestigious competition.

Each project will last six years and will receive a grant from the Horizon Europe Framework Program in the amount of 15 million euros. The funds from the European Commission will be supplemented by the Foundation for Polish Science under the MAB FENG program (8 million euros) and by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (7 million euros).

We congratulate the other winners of the competition and look forward to the success of the Centres of Excellence being created.

Author: Scientific Editor Marcin Powęska.