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ELIBIO - future biology with high-power lasers

The European Development Fund and the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has awarded cca. 250 million CZK to the ELIBIO project at the new ELI Beamlines laser facility of the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The ELIBIO project explores new frontiers in light and optics to create breakthrough science in biology, chemistry, and physics. The project will bring world-leaders in photon science and structural biology to the Czech Republic.

One of the aims of the ELIBIO project is to establish an Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence at the European Extreme Light Infrastructure, under construction in Dolní Břežany near Prague. The new centre combines biology, chemistry and physics, and will exploit some of the most powerful photon beams in the world from the immense lasers of the ELI-Beamlines facility. The ELIBIO team will use these beams to perform breakthrough studies in life sciences.

The international team of ELIBIO creates an interface between two complementary research centers of the Czech Academy of Sciences: the ELI-Beamlines facility near Prague, and the Institute of Biotechnology (IBT) of the BIOCEV Centre nearby. IBT is focused on biomedical and biotechnological research while the Institute of Physics and its ELI-Beamlines facility is a leader in photon physics with high-power lasers.

The project team is headed by Prof. Janos Hajdu, who will develop the research strategy and set the scope of the experimental work. Prof. Hajdu has a rich scientific career. He started his X-ray work in Oxford, U.K., was Professor of Photon Science at Stanford University in the USA, and Professor of Molecular Biophysics at Uppsala University in Sweden. He also served as advisor to the Directors of the European X-ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL) in Hamburg. The ELIBIO project will be embedded into an international framework of research infrastructures, including the European XFEL and the Linac Coherent Light Source at Stanford (California, USA).  "We will create new knowledge in studies on structure, function and dynamics in cells, organelles, and biomolecules, and perform experiments that have been impossible so far" says Hajdu.  "We will also develop new methods and technologies to enable new measurements, and answer key questions on health and disease."

ELIBIO will run for an initial duration of nearly 6 years. "We are really happy that we secured such outstanding scientists for this project" said prof. Jan Řídký, the director of the Institute of Physics. "They have a wealth of experience from abroad and have really rich scientific careers.”

The inflow of talent and expertise through this project, combined with the foundation of a state of the art bio-lab will leave a legacy of a strengthened Czech research environment.