Annual Report 2013 (printable summary)

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2013 Annual Report Summary Read the full version here:

Annual Report 2013 - 1

© CRG 2014

Produced by: Department of Communication & Public Relations

Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG)

Dr. Aiguader, 88

08003 Barcelona, Spain

Text and graphics:

CRG scientists, CRG members of the management team,

Cristina Sáez, Department of Communication &

Public Relations

Graphic Design: Ondeuev Comunicació S.L. Photography: Ivan Marti


Letter from the director


A Look Back at the Year


Research 9

Bioinformatics and Genomics 9

Cell and Developmental Biology 9

Gene Regulation, Stem Cells and Cancer 10

Systems Biology 11

Core Facilities


International and Scientific Affairs


Collaborations and activities to foster translational research 12

Strategic alliances 13

International collaboration 13

Coordination of collaborative scientific projects 14

Advanced Training


Technology Transfer


Communication & Outreach


Grants & External Funding


Management 21

Funding evolution 22

Personnel evolution 23

Administration 24 Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) 25

Letter from the director

4 - Annual Report 2013


or the first time since the beginning of the crisis, the year 2013 seemed to be the turning point for recovery. In 2013 we continued to successfully attract European and international funding. Highlights include an ERC Starting grant (Fyodor Kondrashov), ERC Proof of Concept (Luis Ser-

rano), ERC Consolidator grant (Ben Lehner) and an ERC Synergy grant (Miguel Beato, Thomas Graf, Marc

MartĂ­-Renom, and Guillaume Filion), strengthening the leading role of the CRG in the ERC as the top institute in life sciences in Spain and ranked fourth if all the disciplines are combined. For our postdocs, we successfully obtained a new COFUND grant to continue the Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme and recruit 12 postdocs over 2 calls. Finally, a new CRG Summer Internship Programme for undergraduate students was started up with great success. Internationally we launched the new mobility programme together with the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (South Africa) and which is supported by Novartis. In addition, the CRG signed a collaboration agreement with the Argentinean Ministry for Science, Technology and Productive Innovation to create a bi-national institute for bioinformatics and genomics. The EU-LIFE initiative, with 13 top European institutes of excellence in life sciences, is consolidating and planning new joint initiatives for 2014. This year also saw the consolidation of our collaboration with hospitals in Barcelona and Catalonia, and the launch of two annually-awarded institutional grants to foster collaborations between CRG research groups and medical and health-related biotech groups. Importantly, in 2013 the CRG was awarded the HR Excellence in Research logo from the European Commission for developing and implementing an HR strategy for researchers, and created a new Training Unit to boost training opportunities and the career development (in scientific and technological disciplines as well as entrepreneurship and complementary skills) of all the CRG staff. In 2013, two junior group leaders left the CRG: Salvador Aznar-Benitah was offered a senior position at the IRB in Barcelona and Mark Isalan moved to Imperial College in London. Added to Hernan Lopez-Schier, who left in 2011 to the Helmholtz Zentrum MĂźnchen in Germany, that makes three junior PIs who received excellent offers before the end of their 9-year terms at the CRG. In 2013 we recruited a new group leader, Sebastian Maurer, in the Cell and Developmental Biology programme who will start at the CRG in 2014, and we opened two new PI positions. In summary, 2013 was an excellent year for the CRG. Despite the crisis, we have consolidated the institute, managed to attract international funding, set up new groups and foster our international collaborations. This was possible thanks to the collective work of all the CRG members. Luis Serrano Director

Annual Report 2013 - 5

A look back at the year

6 - Annual Report 2013


or the CRG, 2013 was a year of recovery and a year of consolidation. Recovery, because, despite the crisis, signs of improvement started to appear, and consolidation because the CRG continued working and striving hard to produce first-rate science and remain one of the leading

centres in both Europe and the world, in the area biomedicine and life sciences. The SCImago Institution Rankings (SIR) World Report 2013, covering the years 2007-2011, classifies the

CRG in 9th position (according to the Q1 indicator, health sector) out of over 2,740 research institutions around the world. In Europe only three other research centres in the health sector have a higher Q1 indicator. These results contribute to motivating the CRG researchers and, at the same time, remind all CRG staff that they should continue to work hard to maintain and improve these standards of excellence. The number and quality of the papers published by CRG scientists have not stopped increasing. In 2013, 1971 papers were published in peer-reviewed journals with an average impact factor of 8.836, and 108 seminars were held by top-level invited speakers. The media picked up many of these activities, and the CRG hit the news (newspapers, radio, TV) on 578 occasions. At the end of October, we celebrated our 12th Annual Symposium, entitled “BCN2: Biological Control Networks in Barcelona�. The network has become an icon for systems biology and a flexible central framework for understanding a wide range of biological questions, from gene regulation and cell biology to neuroscience and evolution. The meeting brought together top biologists and theoreticians from around the world to present new views and discuss the latest developments. Throughout the diverse fields presented, the underlying universal aspects of networks, as well as field-specific features, were explored through talks, open discussions and a poster session (

12th CRG Symposium, BCN2: Biological Control Networks in Barcelona From left to right: James Briscoe, Genetics & Development, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK; James Sharpe (symposium organiser, Systems Biology Programme, CRG, Barcelona, Spain; and Dennis Bray, Dept. of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, UK). 1 This includes: articles and reviews.

Annual Report 2013 - 7

Finally, some of our young and senior scientists obtained awards and honours in recognition of the excellence of their science during the year. Ben Lehner received the Eppendorf Young Investigator Award 2013, Johannes Jaeger was awarded the Society for Experimental Biology President’s Medal, Roderic Guigó was given the City of Barcelona Award 2012, Salvador Aznar-Benitah was awarded the Metastasis Research Prize 2013 of the Beug Foundation, and Vivek Malhotra received the Merck Award from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). Additionally, Toni Gabaldón and Marc Marti-Renom were appointed ICREA Research Professors, Pedro Carvalho was selected as an EMBO Young Investigator, Luciano Di Croce was elected EMBO Member, and Mara Dierssen was appointed President of the Spanish Society for Neurosciences (SENC).

Eppendorf Young Investigator Award 2013 From left to right: Maria Leptin (EMBO Director), Axel Jahns (Eppendorf AG), Ben Lehner (Award Winner 2013), Francisco Chavarri (Managing Director Eppendorf Ibérica), Reinhard Jahn (Director MPI for Biophysical Chemistry)

8 - Annual Report 2013

Research Bioinformatics and Genomics Coordinator: Roderic Guig贸 The research groups in the Bioinformatics and Genomics Programme have as an overarching goal the understanding of the encoding of biological information in the sequence of the genomes (that is, of the complex relationship between genomes and phenotypes), and how evolutionary forces have contributed to shaping this encoding. The groups are interested in understanding the sequence patterns that instruct the molecular pathway leading from the DNA to protein sequences, and the mechanisms by means of which the outputs of this pathway (RNA and proteins) interact to confer functionality at the molecular and cellular level. Our research also includes developing basic alignment methodologies tailored to functional genomic domains exhibiting specific patterns of sequence conservation, and investigating how the evolution of these domains is correlated with the evolution of the encoded phenotypic traits. We are also interested in uncovering the very basic molecular events that govern evolutionary processes. Finally, the programme aims to translate the understanding of the human genome sequence into knowledge about diseases. The year 2013 was crucial for this programme, which was redesigned to include the former Genes and Disease programme.

Cell and Developmental Biology Coordinator: Vivek Malhotra The major focus of our programme is understanding the mechanism of cell compartmentation, cell division, and tissue organisation. The specific interests of the group leaders include protein sorting and secretion (Malhotra), microtubule dynamics and chromosome segregation (Vernos, Mendoza), cytoskeleton dependent RNA transport (Maurer), cell migration and their assembly into a tissue (Solon and Malhotra), and lipid and protein homeostasis (Carvalho). The approaches being used to address these issues include genome-wide screens, live cell and whole animal imaging, cell-free assays, as well as biophysical and mathematical modelling. Our studies take advantage of several model systems including yeast, frogs, flies and mammalian tissue cell cultures. The department has biweekly data clubs and a yearly retreat to discuss new developments. We have a number of collaborative projects and we encourage more joint efforts in the development of technology, procedures and the training of young scientists to address challenging issues of fundamental importance. Some of our key findings in the year 2013 include the identification of genes required for mucin secretion in human cancer cells, regulation of sterol homeostasis by the ubiquitin ligase Doa10/Teb4, and the role of Aurora A mediated NEDD1 phosphorylation in chromosomal microtubule nuAnnual Report 2013 - 9

cleation and spindle function. Malhotra, Mendoza and Carvalho are funded by grants from the ERC. Malhotra received the MERCK award from the American society of biochemistry and molecular biology (ASBMB) and Carvalho is a recipient of the international early career scientist award from HHMI and was elected an EMBO Young Investigator.

Gene Regulation, Stem Cells and Cancer Coordinator: Juan Valcárcel This year our programme saw the departure of Salvador Aznar-Benitah’s group. After six highly productive years at the CRG he took a senior position at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) in Barcelona. During its time at CRG, his group made very important contributions to the field of adult stem cells, particularly regarding the influence of circadian rhythms in skin stem cell homeostasis. While we will greatly miss Salva and his group, we are very glad that the hugely successful research programme he built up at the CRG made him an international leader in his field and provided his group with excellent opportunities and a great scientific environment in which to continue his work on the other side of the city. The year was rich in important scientific findings on a wide variety of topics, from establishing the roles of RNAs in chromatin remodelling to identifying the diverse roles of Polycomb complexes in stem pluripotency. From discovering the function of mRNA transport in the control of sex determination in flies to finding ways to trigger neural reprogramming with very promising potential for retina regeneration. Remarkable findings by the group of Bill Keyes, in collaboration with the group of James Sharpe (Systems Biology Programme), documented the fact that cell senescence, a process previously known to play a role in ageing and in defence against tumours, also occurs during normal development and can actually instruct embryonic patterning. Another scientific highlight of the year was the discovery by the groups of Thomas Graf and Miguel Beato that a brief pulse of C/EBPα, a transcription factor previously known to induce the transdifferentiation of B cells into macrophages, can covert B cells into induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells at high efficiencies when subsequently exposed to a cocktail of four transcription factors (known as the Yamanaka factors) that promote the expression of gene pluripotency. This finding may have important basic and clinical implications for understanding the generation and applications of iPS cells. Finally, an achievement of special value for the CRG was the award of an ERC Synergy grant to the groups of Miguel Beato, Guillaume Filion, Thomas Graf and Marc Martí-Renom, to support their collaborative efforts to understand the three-dimensional organisation of the genome, its dynamics and functional consequences. 10 - Annual Report 2013

Systems Biology Acting coordinator: James Sharpe The research groups in the Systems Biology programme cover a wide range of topics: from dynamic gene regulatory networks to systems neuroscience, and employ a wide range of model systems to address these issues, including prokaryotes, cell lines, C. elegans, Drosophila and mice. Underlying this diversity, however, are the common goals of combining systematic and quantitative data collection, using computational models, going beyond molecular descriptions and arriving at a deeper dynamic understanding of complex biological processes. To achieve these goals the programme is strongly interdisciplinary, comprising an increasing number of physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists, in addition to biologists. This year saw the addition of a new group to the programme, Mara Dierssen’s lab on Cellular and Systems Neuroscience, and the departure of Mark Isalan’s group, whose successful 7 years at the CRG has resulted in a move to Imperial College London. In 2013, group leaders from our programme were honoured with a number of prestigious prizes, including the Eppendorf Young Investigator Award presented to Ben Lehner, and the President’s Medal from the Society for Experimental Biology awarded to Johannes Jaeger. The programme also received many new international grants, including Swarm-Organ a European project coordinated by James Sharpe, and the ERC Proof of Concept project MycroBiotics coordinated by Luis Serrano. As in previous years, we organised a very successful one-week summer school on modelling in systems biology, with an international team of lecturers and attracting students from around the world. This year we also organised the CRG Symposium on Biological Control Networks uniting different systems from bacteria to vertebrate development under the unifying theme of network analysis.

Core facilities Director: Mònica Morales The core facilities and the technologies they offer continue to be a valued cornerstone of the research performed at the CRG. The programme currently comprises six Core Facility Units: Genomics, Proteomics, Advanced Light Microscopy, Biomolecular Screening & Protein Technologies, FACS, and Bioinformatics, as well as the Histology Service and the Storage and Computing Unit that are only accessible to internal users. As in previous years, the overall activity in core facilities continued to increase. The Scientific IT Unit, in charge of the storage and computing cluster at the CRG, became part of the Core Facilities Programme in June 2013. In July, Carlo Carolis was appointed Manager of the Biomolecular Screening & Protein Technologies Unit. In September, Doris Meder left the CRG and Mònica Morales took up her position as the new Head of Core Facilities. Annual Report 2013 - 11

The major equipment upgrades in 2013 have been: 1) An Illumina HiSeq 2500 in the Genomics Unit; and 2) An ABSciexTriple-TOF 5600 mass spectrometer in the Proteomics Unit. In order to improve the services provided to the users, each Core Facility Unit is working on individual technology development and implementation projects as time and capacity allows. In 2013, the major technologies implemented were: Flow Karyotyping in the FACS Unit, the monitoring of phospho-peptides by data-independent acquisition in the Proteomics Unit, Microscale Thermophoresis in the BMS&PT Unit, automated library preparation in the Genomics Unit, currently set up for RNA sequencing applications, and the Galaxy portal in the Bioinformatics Unit. The ALMU Unit has, since October 2013, been hosting the beta-test of a Leica next-generation STED system (STED3X), incorporating unique features (e.g., axial STED) and displaying major improvements in image quality. The CRG core facilities are not only well established locally, with users coming from different institutions in Barcelona and Spain (as well as from abroad), but they are also recognised partners in European initiatives. The Advanced Light Microscopy Unit is a partner in the ESFRI initiative EuroBioimaging, the Genomics Unit is a transnational access site in the European infrastructure network ESGI, and the Proteomics Unit is a transnational access and research site within the European Infrastructure network PRIME-XS as well as being the only Spanish Proteomics Facility listed in the European MERIL platform. The Core Facilities are member of the Core Facilities Excellence Alliance “Core For Life” (, which also includes the EMBL, VIB (Belgium), MPI-CBG (Dresden, Germany), IMP and CSF (Vienna, Austria), as well as the Functional Genomics Centre Zurich. The aim of Core For Life is to share and consolidate procedures, join efforts in personnel training and technology validation, share access to facilities across institutes, and lobby for infrastructure funding at EU level.

International and Scientific Affairs In 2013, the CRG continued consolidating and expanding its network of scientific collaborations and partnerships, in Spain, Europe and across the globe.

Collaborations and activities to foster translational research To promote translational research, the institute is nurturing its partnership with the Vall d´Hebron Research Institute (VHIR). This year the CRG and VHIR co-organised a course on exome sequencing for researchers and medical doctors with no bioinformatics expertise. The course has been very successful, and was oversubscribed in the first week after it was announced. 12 - Annual Report 2013

In March, the CRG signed a collaboration agreement with the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) to foster synergies, exchanges and future joint projects in translational research. An important event was the launch of the 1st call for emergent translational research projects of CRG group leaders in collaboration with clinical researchers or health-related industries. Five proposals were submitted and two received 50,000 euros funding each: the first led by Isabelle Vernos in collaboration with the in vitro fertilisation clinic EUGINE, and the second headed up by Stephan Ossowski in collaboration with the VHIR. Finally, the CRG is contributing to the EU-LIFE translational research group to discuss strategies, opportunities and challenges in translating basic findings to the clinical and medical community.

Strategic alliances The most important initiative promoted by the CRG at the European level is EU-LIFE (, a European strategic alliance of life sciences institutes of excellence. EU-LIFE was founded by the CRG in 2012, and it is now moving towards a more formal organisation. The objectives of this alliance, currently chaired by the CRG, are to promote excellence in research and better integration among European research institutes in life sciences, and to develop and share best practice in research, research management and training. The alliance now has 13 members: the VIB (Belgium), Institut Curie (France), Gulbenkian Foundation (Portugal), European Institute of Oncology (Italy), Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (Germany), CeMM (Austria), CEITEC (Czech Republic), NKI (the Netherlands), BRIC (Denmark), FMI (Switzerland), Babraham Institute (UK), and FIMM (Finland). In May, we celebrated the first EU-LIFE Community Meeting which brought together more than 65 participants, including the directors of the institutes and other professionals divided into working groups on areas of common interest, such as technology transfer, communication, funding strategy, translational research, recruitment and training. Fabienne Gautier, head of the European Research Area (ERA) gave a keynote lecture at the meeting. The event was also covered in Science Insider.

International collaboration Europe This year we organised a joint scientific event with the Institute of Human Genetics (IGH) in Montpellier (France). The meeting stimulated interesting scientific discussions, mainly on epigenetics and chromatin structure.

Outside Europe In May, the CRG signed a collaboration agreement for the creation of a Bi-national Research Centre with the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva of Argentina. The centre will enable the CRG Annual Report 2013 - 13

Members of the ISA team (from left to right): Elias Bechara, Michela Bertero, Sonja Reiland, Olaf Kostbahn, Gabrielle Bertier, Joaquim Calbó

to collaborate with several Argentinean research institutes, and in particular with the University of Buenos Aires. The collaboration will initially focus on computational and systems biology. Joint training activities, conferences, and scientific exchanges are planned. This year the CRG, Wits University in South Africa and Novartis have launched a joint mobility programme. The programme has enabled 3 PhD fellows to work for six months in CRG laboratories on research themes of common interest to the CRG and Wits. The 3 students are co-supervised by Xavier Estivill, Roderic Guigó and Juan Valcárcel.

Coordination of collaborative scientific projects The CRG is leading several Spanish and large European collaborative projects; and therefore contributes to advancing knowledge in diverse fields of biology and biomedical research, ranging from systems biology, cancer, epigenetics, cellular trafficking, and rare diseases to medical genomics. The 2013 portfolio includes: • 7 European projects: SysteMTb (Serrano), GEUVADIS (Estivill), Cure-FXS (Dierssen), BioPreDyn (Jaeger), 4DCellFate (Di Croce), Swarm-Organ (Sharpe); FLiACT (Louis) • 2 Spanish projects: RNAREG (Valcarcel), COAT (Malhotra) Highlights include: the publication of two high-impact articles (Nature, Nature Biotech.) and the release of the European Exome Variant Server by the GEUVADIS Consortium; the organisation of an international workshop at the 2013 Keystone Conference “TB: Understanding the Enemy” in Whistler (Canada) by SysteMTb; and the organisation of a large symposium on “Structural and Functional Proteomics: Delving into Molecular Details” (Utrecht, January 14-15, 2013) by the 4DCellFate project. 14 - Annual Report 2013

In addition, the CRG leads the work package on community building in the ESFRI initiative on systems biology, known as the Infrastructure for Systems Biology – Europe (ISBE). Within the framework of the ISBE, the CRG developed and launched the European Systems Biology Community website (http://community., a platform where all European life-scientists can find systems biology-related information and networking opportunities.

Advanced Training Throughout 2013, the International PhD Programme has continued to attract many young talents from all over the world, supported both by internal and external competitive funds and the “la Caixa” International PhD Fellowship Programme. This year, 11 students were selected in the “la Caixa” call (funded by “la Caixa”, Severo Ochoa and CRG funds) after a highly competitive selection process (321 candidates from over 70 different countries). The specific training offered in 2013 to PhD students includes 6 Advanced Seminars in Biomedical Research, in partnership with the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, as well as 17 practical scientific and technical courses organised by the CRG faculty and core facilities. The CRG PhD community has actively promoted a number of initiatives, such as the 7th annual PhD symposium (13-14 November), the PhD retreat in Amposta (22-23 November), and the 3rd joint retreat, this year with Curie Institute, in Cadaqués (6-9 June). During the PhD Symposium the Eppendorf prize for the best CRG Thesis project 2012-2013 was awarded to Caroline Bruns. The International Postdoctoral Programme at the CRG currently hosts around 100 postdocs supported by internal and competitive funding from highly prestigious institutions. This year, the Ramón Areces foundation funded one postdoctoral position, which was chosen in a competitive selection process that attracted 20 candidates. CRG has successfully obtained a new COFUND grant to continue the Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme to recruit 12 new postdocs over 2 calls in 2014 and 2015. Finally, a new CRG Summer Internship Programme for undergraduate students has been launched with great success (8 students were selected from 80 applications). A highlight of the CRG Advanced Training Programme is the new series of high-level international courses, Courses@CRG, initiated in 2012. Courses@CRG are open to the scientific community, deliver high quality training (including lectures and hands-on sessions) on the latest scientific breakthroughs and technologies, gathering together the expertise of CRG faculty, well-known experts and skilled instructors. In 2013, highly successful courses were developed, which were attended by internal and external participants. One course, on exome sequencing, was specifically designed for training medical doctors without IT skills. Annual Report 2013 - 15

• Summer Course in Modelling for Systems Biology - 2013 (9-14 June) • Advanced proteomics course for molecular and cellular biologists (1-5 July) • Applied Super-resolution Light Microscopy (30 September-2 October) • Third Throughput Sequencing: Lab methods and computational challenges (14-18 October) • Workshop on Next Generation Sequencing Data analysis (12-15 November, 2013) • Exome Sequencing Analysis in Disease & Clinical Research (25-28 November, 2013) The Teaching and Training Labs, established in 2012 with support from private sponsors, have been used for several CRG training activities for scientists at all stages of their careers, courses and workshops within the PhD Programme and Courses@CRG, and activities for school children. In November 2013, the CRG created a new Training unit to coordinate and boost training activities and facilitate the career development (in scientific and technological disciplines as well as entrepreneurship and complementary skills) of all the CRG staff.

Advanced training figures PhD students: 104 (78% foreign) External fellowships obtained by PhD students: 13+11 selected in “la Caixa” call Advanced Seminars offered to Master and PhD students: 6 Practical courses offered to PhD students: 17 PhD theses defended: 21 Postdoc researchers: 100 (68% foreign) External fellowships obtained by postdoctoral researchers: 7+ 1 Ramón Areces Fellowship Courses@CRG: 6, 83 participants

Technology Transfer The CRG reached an inflexion point in terms of technology transfer during 2013; two patents from the CRG patent portfolio entered national phases, reflecting the increasing maturity of its patent portfolio. One of the patents consists of protecting novel inhibitors of signalling through the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily of ligands and receptors, in particular the RANK/RANKL pathway relevant in osteoporosis and other bone disorders, cancer and metabolic disease. The other consists of a gene therapy approach for the treatment of Huntington disease based on the use of novel Zinc-finger proteins.

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9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0








2011 Priority





The technology transfer department has raised competitive European funding for valorisation of internal projects by obtaining an ERC Proof of Concept grant, making the total amount of external valorisation funds secured through the office since 2009 885,000 euros. In 2013 a total of seven licenses, service and collaboration agreements have been executed, showing a slight decrease with regard to 2012, but in line with previous years. Of note, a co-development agreement with Ferrer International has been signed for tissue regeneration through cell reprogramming. Additionally, during the last quarter of 2013, Pablo Cironi joined the CRG as the new Head of the Technology Transfer Department, replacing Xavier Rúbies, who left the CRG in June.

Communication & Outreach One of the strategic objectives of the CRG activity of is “to communicate and establish a dialogue with society, educating the public and taking into account their demands and needs.” To this end, during 2013 the number of activities organised continued to increase. 156 activities were held, including workshops for primary and secondary schools, training courses for teachers, school visits, summer internships, the open day, science cafés, “Easy Science” conferences and participation in fairs and events for the dissemination of science. As a novelty, in the last quarter of 2013, the CRG launched the itinerant scientific picture exhibition “TREE OF LIFE. The complexity of life: from the cell to a living organism”, which will be in Alicante and Barcelona in 2014. The CRG also participates in two EU funded science communication Teaching & Training Lab at the Centre for

projects: EuroStemCell (since 2010) and CommHERE / HorizonHealth (since 2011), together with lead-

Genomic Regulation (CRG).

ing research institutes across Europe. Annual Report 2013 - 17

Apart from these engagement activities, the CRG went one step further in 2013 by inaugurating a new facility to hold educational workshops for school students and training courses for scientists. The so-called “Teaching & Training Lab”, houses state-of-the-art equipment, which was donated by several companies related to research. This facility opens a new avenue of communication between the CRG and society, bringing the science carried out by researchers at the institute closer to the general public. Furthermore, the different findings published in top scientific journals, the activities organised and the recognition of the CRG as a research institute of reference in the biomedical arena led, throughout the year, to articles in the press and online media, as well as participation by scientists in radio and television programmes. Moreover, during 2013 the presence of the CRG in social networks, which are proving to be a very effective additional dissemination tool for all activities, increased remarkably. 2013 was a particularly busy year in terms of seminars, sessions and scientific meetings, all held at the facilities of the institute. It is worth highlighting the scientific meetings “LightSheet Microscopy Workshop”, the Quantissue Meeting 2013: “Computational approaches to networks, cells and tissues”, the “CRG Science Career Day” (1st edition), the 12th CRG Symposium: “BCN2 – Biological Control Networks in Barcelona”, and 4 editions of the Core Facilities Technology Symposia series. Also, in the autumn of 2013, in order to continue expanding the scientific photographic resources, we organised the third edition of the internal CRG Scientific Photography Competition. The level of participation and quality of the photographs submitted was particularly notable. The winning entries were announced at the Christmas party, where the artists received their prizes.

Prize winning and short-listed pictures from the 3rd CRG Scientific Photography Competition: Prize winning picture (left): “Harmothoe Areolata Scale” (Harmothoe areolata is a scale-worm (Polychaeta, Polynoidae) that lives on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Scales cover the dorsal side of worm’s body and have species-specific cuticle structures that auto-fluoresce with an unknown protein complex displaying a cascade of several chromophores. Dark blue DAPI staining of epithelial cells), by Masha Phyuscheva.

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First short-listed picture (left): “Billy the Worm” (The hermaphroditic worm C. elegans consists mostly of its germline. First it produces a lot of sperm, then switches to making oocytes which are then fertilised with its own sperm to make the embryos. A fully self-sustainable creature), by Adam Klosin. Second short-listed picture (right): “Visualising 3D Developing Tissue in an Embryonic Mouse” (An E12.5 mouse embryo was labelled with anti-Tuj1 and anti-Desmin to fluorescently visualise developing neural tissue and muscle tissues, respectively. The head was scanned using Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy (SPIM); 2 views of the 3D structures are visualised here in false colour to indicate depth (neural tissue in cool colours, differentiating muscle in warm). The sample was also scanned in transmission Optical Projection Tomography (OPT) to reconstruct the non-fluorescent 3D distribution of the eye pigmentation (shown in white)), by Jim Swoger.

CRG Communication & Outreach figures Outreach activities: 156 Audience reached: nearly 8,000 people Press releases & short pieces of news: 56 Written/online media appearances: 510 Radio/TV appearances: 55 Blogs: 13 International meetings: 17 High profile seminars: 108

Annual Report 2013 - 19

Grants & External Funding In 2013, the CRG maintained its very successful track record in attracting competitive funding from highly prestigious funding agencies (€11.4 million2), in spite of the significant decrease in national funding and the gap between FP7 and H2020 at the European level. Currently, financing from the European Commission (€5.2 million, not including projects in negotiation, see Table 2) represents the largest share of competitive funding, putting the CRG in 11th position in the Spanish ranking list of EU funds, and the first by size after large organisations and companies. As an indicator of excellence, the CRG is the leading Spanish institute in ERC grants in life sciences, currently with 13 grants (7 Starting, 3 Advanced, 1 Consolidator, 1 Synergy and 1 Proof of Concept – 2 of them under negotiation).

Table 1. Total external funding EXTERNAL FUNDING


2012 €000








European Commission (FP7)






























Competitive grants

International Other external funding National International TOTAL


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2 The new projects outlined in the text are reported in the official

figures for external funding in 2013, with the exception of the ERC


Synergy, ERC Consolidator and La Marató projects, which were in ne-


are included in the Table 2 “Competitive grants in negotiations 2013”

83.90 15,362.49

gotiation/pending final award notification at the close of the year. They and will be reported in the official figures for external funding for 2014. Similarly, the Severo Ochoa Grant that was awarded in 2012 with an official start date in 2013, was in negotiation at the close of the year 2012, and is, therefore, now reported in the official figures for 2013.

CRG researchers have attracted one of the 13 ERC Synergy grants (chosen from the 450 proposals submitted) for the most exceptional multidisciplinary research projects in Europe to study the 3D structure of the genome and its role in gene expression (4DGenome). The groups involved in the project are those led by M. Beato (CRG), G. Filion (CRG), T. Graf (CRG and ICREA research professor) and M. Marti-Renom (CNAG-CRG and ICREA research professor). The 5-year project has been awarded 12.2 million euros. Additional funding from the European Commission includes one ERC Starting grant (F.Kondrashov), one ERC Consolidator grant (B.Lehner) and a COFUND project to continue the Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme to recruit twelve postdocs over two calls in 2014 and 2015. La Marató de TV3 fundraising telethon has, in 2013, funded two CRG research projects (L. Di Croce and F. Gebauer) in the area of cancer research. This is big success given that only 42 research projects out of 318 were selected. In addition to attracting competitive grants for excellent basic research and fellowships, the CRG has also succeeded in obtaining additional private funds for strategic activities amounting to €1.2 million, which include funding by “la Caixa” for the project “The European Genome-Phenome Archive (EGA) and the development of genome analysis software for medical purposes”, and from the Fundación Ramón Areces for a postdoctoral position for a 3-year project, as detailed in Table 1 under “Other External funding”.

Management The Management department, led by Marian Marrodan, provides administrative and management support to the scientific community and to core facilities. It aims to provide non-bureaucratic, timely and efficient administrative services, to meet future challenges. Since it was founded, the CRG has increased its scientific activity exponentially. The management structure has also been adapting and reorganising in order to meet the needs of researchers. The reorganisation plan that started in 2011 and developed during 2012, continued in 2013 in the HR Area as planned. This reorganisation will be completed during the first half of 2014. In 2013 the main management area goals were:

Management Information System In January 2013, the management information system responsibility was transferred to the Management Control Area. This change was aimed at providing the added value of a general overview of the area versus the technical approach given by the area of ICT.

Cost-cutting measures The 2013 economic management has pursued and achieved the same objective as in previous years: a reduction in structure and functioning expenses. Annual Report 2013 - 21

Continuous improvement: Training We have been working to implement the training plan scheduled for 2013.

Internationalisation of the management team It is worth noting the active participation of Communication, Grants, TIC and TT departments in EU-Life working groups, the CRG being chair of two of them. At the same time, the Head of Core Facilities Administration also took part in the Core4Life Finance Working Group. These actions, among others, keep the management team moving forward in its internationalisation. In addition, we have continued with the activity of Public Affairs set up in 2012 to strengthen the presence of the CRG and its relationships with different stakeholders, as well as find private sources of funding. One of the more visible results has been the creation of a “Postdoctoral Fellowship” for three years funded by the Ramón Areces Foundation. Finally, and in conclusion, 2013 has once again been a very intense year for the CRG team who has worked with the enthusiasm of further improving and supporting the institute.

Funding evolution (M€) 40



20.47 17.29









15 13.60

6.62 6.89

10 4.21



1.28 1.25















6.32 4.03











22 - Annual Report 2013

External Funding

Personnel evolution Counted on 31st December 2013, the CRG employed a total of 425 people from 41 different countries.

Personnel on 31st December 2013 450 400 350

52 49

300 41 250 32 200


150 100 50 0

18 31 45


22 37





21 20



20 2005

Group and Unit Leaders





























20 17
















Postdocs and Staff Scientists

PhD Students


Management and Support

Foreign Scientists Vs. Total 77% 74%

77% 75%

69% 55% 49% 71%





63% 62%











Group Leaders


2012 Postdocs


2013 PhD Students

Annual Report 2013 - 23


America 15

Europe 380

Asia 28 Oceania 2

Administration After the previous year’s reorganisation, in which the areas of Finance, Suppliers and Secretariat & Reception were brought together under the umbrella of the Department of Administration, 2013 has been a year of consolidation, including the incorporation of the Human Resources area. We have been working on transverse processes to improve, on the one hand, the efficiency of our department and, on the other, that of the other departments with which we actively collaborate. We have also been able to appreciate the results of some of the improvements implemented in 2012, such as the consolidation of electronic invoicing, through the supplier’s portal. This channel of communication to our suppliers, which starts with the purchase requisition addressed to the supplier and goes right up to payment of the invoice, has allowed us to streamline the processes, avoid delays and, above all, reduce physical paperwork, something which has directly impacted our workspaces. At the end of 2013, in collaboration with the Communications and Public Relations Department and with technical support from the Management Control Office, we began to implement a new tool to facilitate the management of scientific literature and scientific activity, as well as the maintenance of our researchers’ CVs. The new tool will come into operation in the first quarter of 2014. On the other hand, we have also been working outside the CRG, promoting meetings of similar centres, in which working groups have been created to share knowledge and experiences, and generate synergies that are beneficial to all. So far we have set up and consolidated the human resources working group, and in the first half of 2014 it is expected that working groups corresponding to the other areas in the department will also be created.

24 - Annual Report 2013

On a similar theme, within the framework of the International ‘Core for Life’ alliance a new working group was set up to bring together the best administrative and management practices in the field of scientific and technical services. At the second meeting of this alliance, held in September, the Scientific & Technical Services Management area participated in the meetings of the new working group, where funding models were shared and proposals for establishing special rates for members of the alliance were explored. Also in 2013, the Human Resources area participated in the HR Strategy WG in order to obtain the HR Excellence in Research accreditation, and in the Training and Recruitment WG of the International EU-LIFE Alliance.

Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) During 2013, the ICT department worked to achieve its strategic plan, adapting internal processes to the new organisation of the department, reducing the fixed costs of service, collaborating in the preparation of public tenders of new infrastructure and implementing new projects. The strategic projects include the implementation of the infrastructure for the Oracle ERP migration to a higher version, remote support automation, implementation of Sharepoint, the corporate document management and collaborative work tool, the implementation of a new printing service to optimise costs, the introduction of a new ticketing system for different departments, the standardisation of Linux workstations, the service redundancy project, the new protocol of centralisation/approval of remote access to the CRG, the launch of a new videoconference platform, and the beginning of the work related to the migration of the web portal. A project for integrating a new service for cleaning up viruses and spam, which will reduce costs in software and hardware, also started up in the last months of the year. Another highlight of 2013 was the implementation of the project that allowed the CRG to enter the Eduroam consortium. This means that with their CRG credentials any CRG researcher can use the wifi Eduroam network worldwide. It is also worth mentioning the collaboration established between different research centres in the Barcelona area concerning the consultancy of ICT services. Also, in the framework of the EU- LIFE international alliance, a new ICT working group for the exchange of best practices and benchmarking was created.

Annual Report 2013 - 25

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