BioMedRТC: A Bulgarian-German research alliance in the making

Funding to plan a new research center

Stoyno Stoynov, Mihail Sarov, Nikolay Denkov, Stephan Grill, and Anastas Gospodinov (from left to right) © Council of Ministers of Bulgaria

Earlier this year, the European Commission approved an initial proposal to establish a Biomedical Research and Technology Center for Excellence (BioMedRТC) in Sofia, Bulgaria, with a full proposal due in March 2024. The vision of the future center is to do advanced research in the fields of rare diseases, genomic stability, and cancer. The funding program “Teaming for Excellence” is part of the European Union HORIZON-WIDERA program, which addresses the key areas of widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area. The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden and the Curie Institute in Paris are advanced partners for the planned institute. The coordinator on the Bulgarian side is the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The Bulgarian Prime Minister, Nikolay Denkov, met with representatives of MPI-CBG and IMB in Sofia on December 5, 2023. Along with the project leader Stoyno Stoynov, the director of IMB, Anastas Gospodinov, MPI-CBG director Stephan Grill, and MPI-CBG technology development group leader, Mihail Sarov, they met with the Bulgarian prime minister. The participants at the meeting talked about the goals of BioMedRTC, which will investigate the molecular mechanisms behind rare genetic diseases, genetic stability maintenance, and the development of anti-cancer medications. It was mentioned at the meeting that the new center will be crucial to advancing research in Bulgaria in the fields of cancer and clinical genetics.

After their meeting with the Prime Minister, the researchers from MPI-CBG and the IMB met with the deputy minister of science and education of Bulgaria, Genka Petrova, and afterwards with the German ambassador in Bulgaria, Irene Maria Plank.

Following the successful first round of evaluation, funding of approximately 1.5 million euros has been granted by the National Roadmap for Scientific Infrastructure to prepare for the realization of the project’s vision. If the proposal succeeds in the next round of the competition, BioMedRТC is planned to be implemented from 2025 in Sofia, Bulgaria, with a funding of up to 15 million euros from the European Union and matching funding from the Bulgarian national government. The idea is to shape it after the models of the advanced partner institutes, MPI-CBG and the Curie Institute.