Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Rudjer Boskovic Institute's Project May Result in Faster Diagnosis

May the 11th, 2022 - The Rudjer Boskovic Institute's new project which analyses proteins could be the key to a more rapid diagnosis. It can also be applied in many fields, from medicine to biological product quality control.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, on Monday, the Rudjer Boskovic Institute (RBI) presented its project of qualitative and quantitative analysis of proteins worth more than eight million kuna, which, in addition to very wide application in industry, aims to shorten a large number of diagnostic tests.

The Qua / Qua Protein project is being implemented by the Institute in cooperation with Conscius, with 6.8 million kuna having been provided from the European Regional Development Fund, and the project is expected to result in a patent application for an innovative reagent.

“Through this project, we will be able to identify beings, for example, bacteria from urine, or some bacteria from spoiled food, or benign bacteria from let's say a skin sample, and at the same time measure their amounts.

This analysis has a wide range of applications, in medicine, primarily in diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, bioanalytics, and the food industry, including applications in quality control of biological products, as well as in the scientific and academic community,'' said Mario Cindric, the project manager and the head of the Laboratory for Bioanalytics of the Department of Molecular Medicine at the Rudjer Boskovic Institute.

More than 20 scientists from several different laboratories from across the Republic of Croatia are working on this project, including students and young scientists, and the project was supported by colleagues from both Canada and Israel.

For more, make sure to check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 11 February 2022

RBI Institute Boasts More Women Researchers and Scientists Than Men

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - On the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, observed on 11 February, the Zagreb-based Ruđer Bošković Institute (RBI) issued a statement on Friday regarding the importance of raising awareness of gender equality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, in 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Three in five scientists and researchers in the institute are women

The RBI says the institute employs as many as 793 scientists and researchers and 61% of them are women. This share of female researchers is above the Croatian and European average.

According to data collected by the European Union's statistical office (EUROSTAT) in 2020,  women made up 51% of the total number of employees in science and technology in the EU, while in Croatia this share stood at 55%.

Concerning doctoral degrees in natural sciences, in Croatia, there were more women than men with PHDs (55.5%) in 2020, and in the institute as many as 60% of holders of PHDs in Science were women.

On 8 February 2022, there were 1,010 people on the RBI payroll and 603 of them were women.

Also of the three assistant directors of the institute, two are women.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Croatian Scientists Discover New Therapy for Acute Myocardial Infarction

ZAGREB, 2 Feb 2022 - Slobodan Vukičević, a member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU), and his associates have discovered a new therapy for acute myocardial infarction and published an article in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications, HAZU announced in a statement on Wednesday.

The research on the prevention of fibrosis in a model of acute myocardial infarction was carried out at the Laboratory for Mineralised Tissues of the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Trieste.

The results have shown the therapeutic effect of BMP1.3 antibodies in preventing cardiomyocyte apoptosis, reducing the formation of scar tissue and preserving the cardiac function after myocardial infarction in rodents.

Acute myocardial infarction is one of the most common causes of death today, and none of the therapies proposed so far is based on the use of antibodies. The starting point for the research was the discovery of an elevated level of BMP1.3 antibodies in the blood of patients who have suffered myocardial infarction, the statement said.

The article was chosen among the 50 best articles published in Nature Communications in the last 24 months. 

For more made in Croatia news, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 6 December 2021

EU Marine Strategy: Split Scientists Publish Work for Measure Implementation

December the 6th, 2021 - Split scientists have published an important piece of work for the EU Marine Stragedy, placing Croatian scientists at the forefront once again.

As Morski writes, the Republic of Croatia, as a member state of the European Union, is obliged to respect the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC), which requires effective action in maintaining a good marine environment. Split scientists have stepped forward to do precisely that.

Each EU country, in accordance with the aforementioned directive, is currently developing a programme of measures that should maintain the state of the environment at a quality level and correct what was once poor.

In order for these proposed measures to really have an effect, it was necessary to create a methodology to test their effectiveness. That is why Split scientists from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, in cooperation with their colleagues from Europe, within the MEDCIS and MEDREGION projects, have been working hard for many years. The result of the work has just been published in the prestigious magazine "Marine policy".

Through this work, European Union-wide executive authorities have multiple new tools at their disposal to develop more meaningful and effective measures to preserve the marine environment. When asked how the Institute's cooperation with other large institutions in Europe came about, the senior expert associate of the Split Institute, Miso Pavicic, provided an answer:

''The Institute has been working for years on the implementation of the Marine Strategy in cooperation with the competent ministry. IFRS is an EU directive that member states need to implement. The Institute performs the monitoring of the marine environment, the assessment of the state of the environment and participates in the development of programmes of measures.

A consortium of Mediterranean-level partners has been formed and we have applied for a call for projects from the European Commission, DG Environment. First it was the MEDCIS project, then came MEDREGION. These are projects on the implementation of the EU Marine Strategy. This paper published in the magazine "Marine policy" is the result of part of the activities of these two projects,'' explained Pavicic.

Who will benefit from all the results of the work of these Split scientists?

''Primarily EU-level decision-makers, as well as all interested experts assessing the progress and potential of individual action programmes at both the national and subregional level. This method can contribute to more coordinated measures between EU member states and as such be more effective in protecting the marine environment,'' stated this scientist from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries.

The programme of measures is a document of the EU Marine Strategy that member states need to adopt if the state of the environment is bad. In that case, these measures should be applied in order to achieve a good state of the environment.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Beroš: Some Scientific Council Members Do Harm But Have Right to Their Opinion

ZAGREB, 21 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Thursday criticized comments by a member of the government's Scientific Council, Gordan Lauc, related to vaccination, saying that Council members should send a clear message and be aware that their opinions could be harmful.

Beroš added, however, that Lauc has the right to his own opinion.

"It is bad when everyone has the same opinion. That would show that we made a mistake somewhere. But I am critical of what is made public. I appeal for that to not be the case and that everyone who participates in the Scientific Council be aware that by presenting their opinion on social networks they could be doing harm," Beroš told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

He underscored that that is why he personally appealed to members of the Council to send clear messages and not to confuse citizens.

Commenting on Lauc's post on Facebook that "the consensus of the Scientific Council is that vaccines are a poor protection against infection," Beroš said that everyone has the right to their own opinion but the common stance after the Council's meetings, which is a voluntary advisory body for the government, is made by a government representative.

Asked if Lauc would be ousted from the Council, Beroš said that Lauc is responsible for his own opinions but that he believes "individuals will realize that expressing their opinions is damaging and that that will change."

First step in reform is to combine public procurement

Beroš also spoke about the proposed reform of the health system which the ministry has sent to interested institutions for their ideas and proposals.

He announced that as part of the reform, regardless of amendments to the law on healthcare, the first step will be to combine public procurement in health institutions.

"A precondition to combine public procurement is their ownership structure because the ministry and state do not have the option to impose any obligation on county hospitals to join in combined public procurement. Combined public procurement is the first step we will deal with and certain steps have already been taken in that regard," he said, adding that the results would quickly be visible.

"Whether it will be necessary to centralize county institutions or not is still a matter of dispute. We will see what the final draft decision will be after consultations," he said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

New Law On Croatian Science Foundation

ZAGREB, 30 Sept 2021 - The government on Thursday sent a bill on the Croatian Science Foundation into the parliamentary procedure, proposing that the Foundation, which currently has the status of a non-profit organization, acquire the status of a state budget user.

The Foundation was established in 2001, and the new bill was sent to the parliament since the existing legislation is outdated and does not regulate the system for funding science in a way that would be in line with all demands of the current Croatian and European research area.

"The new bill is a key point for the implementation of reforms planned in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO), with the aim of raising Croatia's research and innovation activities and potential," Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said.

In order to boost the efficiency and functionality of investments in science projects and enable the implementation of programs planned within the NPOO, he said, it was proposed that the exact names of programs be deleted.

"In this regard, and in order to make the programs easier to adapt to the framework of financing research, development and innovation, it has been proposed that the types of programs be determined by the Foundation's general acts," the minister explained.

The new bill also regulates issues that are not currently regulated, for example, that the Ministry of Science and Education be in charge of the founder's rights and obligations, as well as the supervision over the legality of the Foundation's work and actions.

In order to improve the quality and transparency of financing science projects and programs, it has been proposed that a new expert body of the Foundation is established, a complaints commission and that the possibility of objection is defined, which has not been possible until now. Also, the principles of the work of the Foundation have been clearly defined, and the definition of the Foundation's users has been changed.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Scientists Call for Concrete Action Plan to Protect Adriatic

ZAGREB, 26 Sept, 2021 - A group of Croatian scientists has issued a public letter underlining the importance of adopting an agenda or a specific action plan for the protection of the Adriatic Sea, vital for the sustainable development of the Croatian society, and their appeal was forwarded by the Eko Kvarner NGO on Sunday. 

The scientists, who in September attended a conference on the Adriatic Sea eco-system on the island of Krk, say in their appeal to the prime minister, the parliament speaker and the public that the research of the Adriatic had been conducted for years but that there was a lack of systematic interdisciplinary research to account for "galloping changes."

They say that the changes are irreversible and that the rise of the sea temperature also causes a rise in the sea level and sea salinity, as well as increased sea stratification, and storm tides.

They warn about a growing number of alien species in the Adriatic, of which many are invasive and even poisonous, as well as about the loss of biodiversity.

Tourism-related activities, along with climate change, account for most of the pressure on the Adriatic, the scientists say, stressing that with waste water and intensive farming, more food and various harmful substances end up in the sea, accumulating in sea organisms through food chains.

"On top of that, plastic and other waste is becoming an increasingly big problem, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the quality of life in the sea and human health," they warn, pointing also to the problem of uncontrolled construction in the coastal areas, which results in the loss of the coastal seabed necessary for the propagation of sea organisms.

The scientists consider more active protection of the Adriatic, a better understanding of how its eco-system functions, and the adoption of regulations aimed at its protection as the solution for more sustainable development.

They propose the establishment of an advisory task force comprising scientists to participate in defining the agenda on measures of protection and underline the importance of developing IT technologies to monitor changes in the marine environment and involving citizens in monitoring those changes.

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Thursday, 8 July 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute Scientists: New Findings Regarding Isomers in Stereochemistry

July 8, 2021 - Ruđer Bošković Institute scientists made progress in stereochemistry that focuses on describing the order of atoms in three-dimensional space and compounds of equal molecular formulas.

While Ivo Andrić's Nobel Prize in literature is debatable whether it serves the national pride of Croatia, Serbia, or Bosnia and Herzegovina, the two Nobel prizes that are unquestionably for Croatians to brag about come from chemistry.

Croatian chemist Vladimir Prelog won the Nobel Prize in 1975 for his work in organic stereochemistry.

As the Ruđer Bošković Institute reported this week, Ph.D. candidate Natalija Pantalon Juraj and dr. Srećko Kirin provided new descriptions of isomers (focused on metal complexes), and their work is published in a prestigious Coordination Chemistry Reviews [IF2020: 22.3] journal, titled „Inorganic stereochemistry: Geometric isomerism in bis-tridentate ligand complexes“.

„The basis of the research was the analysis of structure from crystallographic database“, added IRB.

IRB explained in a press release that stereochemistry is focused on describing the order of atoms in three-dimensional space and compounds of equal molecular formulas, but that differ in the spatial order of atom placements are called isomers.

Prelog took an interest in organic stereochemistry (organic, being interested in compounds with carbon), and while organic stereochemistry has good ways of synthesizing the preferred isomers, the same isn't the case for inorganic (non-carbon compounds) chemistry.

While it is unclear if this work will be awarded and recognized among the international scientific community as much as Prelog's contribution, Pantalon Juraj and Kirin made some progress in advancing inorganic stereochemistry.

„Analysis of data presented in this paper shows trends in coordination properties of various ligands (ligand being an ion or molecule 'functional group' that binds to a central atom to form a coordination complex), thus answering the question of which ligand to choose and design a system to get a wanted isomer“, says IRB regarding the relevance of the research.

The detailed analysis also revealed stereochemical preferences that vary on various factors, and these findings are important for developing new functional coordinating complexes and also new selective catalizators to speed up the reactions.

This research was funded thanks to the Croatian Science Foundation as part of the project „Minimal Artificial Ensims“ (IP-2014-09-1461 and DOK-2015-10-2072), and "CAT Pharma" (KK.01.1.1.04.0013).

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Croatian Scientists Answer Big Question in Cell Biology

June 1, 2021 - Croatian Scientists from one of the most prominent scientific institutse in Croatia, the Ruđer Bošković Insitute (IRB), answered a big question in cell biology regarding the spindle and cell division that has puzzled scientists for decades.

Croatian scientists from the Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB), more precisely, dr. Kruno Vukušić, Ph.D. students Ivana Ponjavić, Patrik Risteski, and Renata Buđa, lead by professor Iva Tolić, researched and have now answered one of the key questions in cell biology.

When it comes to this field of biology specialised in observing and researching cells that make organisms, the spindle is a structure of eukaryotic cells that form during cell division, which is crucial for organisms (including humans, of course) for growth, repair, and reproduction. The spindle is in charge of the distribution of genetic material, but the exact process and molecular mechanisms of that task has baffled scientists for decades.

The aforementioned IRB scientists had their paper published in a prestigious scientific journal, Developmental Cell: Microtubule-sliding modules based on kinesins EG5 and PRC1-dependent KIF4A drive human spindle elongation. The paper described a precise molecular mechanism of molecular microtubule sliding.

''Given that this is one of the key steps in cell division that happens in almost every organism, a molecular mechanism that expands the spindle was the object of interest of many pieces of research. Even though the last 20 years has seen significant progress in understanding these molecular mechanisms, the identity of the protein needed to expand the spindle remained unknown. The importance of the spindle in human cells is apparent, in the fact that besides being the key trigger of moving chromosomes, it encourages the correct segregation of those chromosomes which, if defected, correlate with cancer,'' they said from the IRB in a press release.

This IRB research showed that the proteins KIF11 and KIF4A are the key proteins that stop the expansion of the spindle. This breakthrough was achieved by ''silencing'' several of the many proteins that participate in the process since the previous methods of silencing proteins one by one didn't offer any new knowledge in understanding this process.

Risteski_-_Ponjavić_-_Vukušić_-_Tolić__Ruđer_Bošković_Institute_1.jpg

Risteski, Ponjavić, Vukušić and Tolić © Ruđer Bošković Institute

''We hope that the results of this paper will encourage more new research on the role of expanding the spindle in the final stages of cell division. The results we presented are the start of explaining the control mechanisms of this protein, the work of which is under the strict control of many other factors within the cell itself. In addition, the principle of common work we described in this paper could help scientists in determining molecular mechanisms in other processes that are important in cells,'' elaborated the research leader, professor Iva Tolić.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Croatian Teenagers Win Gold and Silver Medals at European Olympiad of Experimental Science

May 15, 2021 – Croatian students in the category of under 17 years of age, participated in the European Olympiad of Experimental Science. Not only that, but they returned as winners.

Young Croatian competitors at the European Olympiad of Experimental Science did not disappoint. Displaying great skill in handling experiments, data compiling, and problem-solving, Croatian teams managed to win gold and silver medals.

Tportal reports this year's competition ran from May 9th to May 14th. The host city this year was going to be the Hungarian city of Szeged. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic forced the organisers to change the format of the competition. With travelling restrictions in place, Croatian participants worked on their experimental competition tasks in Zagreb. They used the facilities of the Faculty of Science, a part of Zagreb University.

The European Olympiad of Experimental Science is an annual competition by the EOES association. This is a non-profit association for the promotion of science education in high school students in the European Union. Their official website describes the competition as a mix of „experimental and laboratory activities in the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics.“ In order to compete in the European Olympiad of Experimental Science students must first win national competitions in the related fields.

Results and Team Members

There were 120 students competing in this year's edition. They formed 38 teams. Croatian teams captured 6th and 7th positions in the team rankings. The gold medal went to Team B which was made up of Borna Perkovic (III Gymnasium, Split), Lovro Mirkovic, and Jelena Glasovac (XV Gymnasium, Zagreb). Team A won silver with Filip Vucic (I Gymnaisu, Zagreb), Petar Jukic and Nika Tretinjak (XV Gymnasium, Zagreb) in the roster. Mentors in charge of preparing the students, setting up laboratories, and translating the tasks were also a very important part of this result. They are the Faculty of Science members Tajana Begovic (chemistry), Andreja Lucic (biology), Petra Cvjetko (biology), and Kreso Zadro (physics).

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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