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Institut of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMBC) of Tartu University
The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMBC) was founded in 1990. By today it has established itself as a leading Estonian centre for research and teaching in a rapidly developing field. The consortium formed by the IMBC, including groups of Tartu University’s Institute of Technology and the Institute of Zoology and Hydrobiology, constitutes the National Centre of Excellence for Gene and Environmental Technologies. Currently the IMBC recruits more than 50 professors, teachers and researchers. In 2004 we published 67 scientific papers in peer-reviewed international journals. While the IMBC has traditionally been a part of the Faculty of Biology and Geography, Tartu University, our major focus has always been biomedical research. We are actively involved in fundamental cancer research, human genetics, complex genetic disease studies and medical virology. Our staff members have been successful in receiving research grants from the European Union Framework Programs, the European Science Foundation, bi- and multilateral intergovernmental research projects, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. As a latest addition to this international funding list, we are glad to host two Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellows. One of our challenges in the coming years is to respond rapidly to the demand for highly trained skilled specialists in the field of biotech industry and academic research. Only in the year 2004, 25 MSc and 9 PhD degrees were awarded at the IMBC. We are actively involved in the process of reshaping the system of higher education in our country. Next year the first English language MSc level program in biomedicine will be launched as a collaborative effort with the departments of the Medical Faculty of Tartu University. We are also pursuing to establish a strong Doctoral School in Biomedicine. Our further success will largely depend on energetic young researchers and therefore also on our possibilities to provide them with basic elements of infrastructure - modern lab equipment and space. As a major step in infrastructural development we finished the reconstruction of the IMCB main building at Riia 23. The extra floor is now housing the new Department of Bioinformatics and also several groups directly involved in RTD projects. Estonia has become a member of the European Union - we are looking forward to new developments and tasks inside the common European research and higher education space. The status of the National Centre of Excellence clearly defines our starting point for successful international collaboration efforts and hopefully we can keep up with the rapid pace of modern research in biological science.