03.07.2023 - Bioeconomy, Biomedicine, Biotechnology, ICT

Latvia joins European molecular biology organisations

Latvia has joined the European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) and been accepted into the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). Joining both organisations as a member state will support the development of the biomedical, biotechnology, bioeconomy, and information technology sectors in Latvia.

“This important step demonstrates our country’s commitment to developing molecular biology research and cooperation with other European countries in this field, promoting the development of scientific research and helping Latvian scientists to integrate into the international scientific community. Our scientists will now have access to state-of-the-art research tools, infrastructure, and knowledge,” said Dmitrijs Stepanovs, undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Science and director of the Department of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation.

By joining EMBL, Latvia is now a member of all three major EIROforum infrastructures: the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the European Space Agency (ESA), and EMBL.

New opportunities for cooperation

“For Latvian scientists, these are new, wide-ranging opportunities for collaboration, as EMBL is a global centre of excellence, creating completely new research methods and coordinating many European Union Framework Programme projects. For experienced scientists, the EMBC scholarships and courses provide training in new methods, while for young scientists – participation in special programmes to launch their careers and networking opportunities,” said Minister of Education and Science Anda Čakša.

Jānis Kloviņš, chair of the Scientific Council of the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, emphasised that biological science is global in nature, and only by participating in the world’s largest biological and biomedical research centres, both the BMC and other scientific institutions have the opportunity to work at the forefront of scientific discovery – where the previously unknown and unprecedented is discovered and created.

“Working with the most advanced technologies, we are in demand in the industry, ensuring the highest quality of industrial research and developing biotechnology as one of the most sophisticated modern technologies,” emphasises Kloviņš.

Alvis Brāzma, senior scientist and head of the EMBL-EBI Division, also pointed out that Latvia’s inclusion in EMBL will expand the opportunities for Latvian scientists to collaborate with the largest and best-known life science and biomedical laboratories in Europe and the world.

“This in turn will expand opportunities to participate in joint scientific project applications, for example, under Horizon Europe, thus attracting more international science funding to Latvia, as well as raising Latvia’s profile,” he notes.

For European leadership

The EMBC was founded in 1969 to provide European leadership in the then new field of molecular biology, while the EMBL was launched in 1973 as a major infrastructure project. To join EMBL, you must first join EMBC.

The conference provides grants for visits to EMBL centres, support for young scientists, fostering peer-to-peer collaboration, and training programmes for infrastructure managers and research leaders.

It also provides scientists with access to the latest technologies – those that are under development and not yet commercially available – and industry with a solid basis for applying the latest technologies and techniques to the development of products and services.

In order to assess the usefulness of membership in these organisations, Latvia’s status as a prospective member was valid from March 2020 to March 2023, with the aim of providing Latvian scientists and institutions with access to EMBL resources.

During this period, more than 90 scientists worked with EMBL, while more than 30 scientists benefited from the courses and workshops offered. The Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre has been involved in two projects coordinated by EMBL, attracting funding of 500,000 euros for Latvia.

Author: Anda Asere (www.labsoflatvia.com)
Photo: Shutterstock

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