Project description

GlycoPar is a multi-partner Initial Training Network funded under the European Union programme FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN and coordinated by Instituto de Medicina Molecular, PT. It involves a highly interdisciplinary consortium formed by 14 European research groups from academia and industry.

Protozoan parasites and helminths are the cause of some of the most devastating diseases worldwide and a major effort is needed to be able to control or eliminate these diseases. Glycoconjugates are abundant and ubiquitous on the surface of many parasites and they are frequently involved in their survival strategies by forming a protective barrier against host defences. A common feature of the parasite’s cell surface architecture is the presence of an elaborate and often highly decorated glycocalyx that allows it to interact and respond to the external environment. Therefore, the study of the glycobiology of these organisms offers unique opportunities to devise novel strategies to tackle parasitic-caused diseases. However, the exquisite diversity of these glycoconjugates and of their biosynthetic machineries, the difficulties related with their structural analysis and the complexity associated with their synthesis in the laboratory, poses a tremendous challenge for the scientific community.

To address these challenges GlycoPar proposes to establish a European based training programme in a world-class collaborative research environment steered by some of the world leaders in the fast evolving field of parasite glycobiology, in close association with European industrial enterprises. The researchers recruited through this initiative will be exposed, both at the local and network-wide level, to a multicultural and highly multidisciplinary PhD training. This programme will acquaint them with a complete range of state-of-the-art glycobiology methodologies, alongside with valuable transferable and entrepreneurial skills. All together the aim is to create a PhD-level trained generation of young scientists capable of tackling the challenges that parasite glycobiology implies with improved career prospects and employability as well as preparing them to become future leaders in research institutions and industry.

To achieve the GlycoPar objectives, a well–balanced and interdisciplinary consortium has been formed including groups from:

(a) eight academic institutions: Dr. João Rodrigues (IMM, Portugal), Prof. Mike Ferguson (U. Dundee, UK), Prof. Luis Izquierdo (Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain), Prof. Markus Aebi (ETH Zurich, CH), Prof. Rita Gerardy-Schwann and Prof. Françoise Routier (Hannover Medical School, DE), Prof. Iain Wilson (BOKU Wien, AU), Dr. Alvaro Acosta-Serrano (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK) and Dr. Alexander Titz (Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, DE);

(b) four industrial partners: Dr. Irene Schiller (Malcisbo AG, CH), Dr. Per-Georg Nyholm (Biognos AB, SE), Dr. Simão Soares (SilicoLife, PT) and Dr. Daniel Spencer (Ludger Ltd, UK);

(c) two associated partners: Dr. Núria Reig (SOMBiotech SL, Spain) and Dr. José Fiandor (GlaxoSmithKline I&D, Tres Cantos Site, Spain).

Keywords: Protozoan parasites; Helminths; Glycobiology; Chemical Biology; Carbohydrate metabolism; Structural characterisation; Systems biology; Glycoengineering; Drug discovery; Vaccines; Training; Outreach.

GlycoPar Grant Agreement with EU Commission nº 608295, signed 28 November 2013. 

CORDIS link: 

Project started December 2013 and will run until November 2017. Total Budget: EUR 3,450,856.00

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