EU co-funded projects and EU consortia

EEA Grants (2014-2021): Next Generation Viral Hepatitis B and C vaccine development in plants and algae using advanced biotechnological tools; ‘’Dezvoltare de vaccinuri de ultima generatie anti Virusurile Hepatice B si C in plante si alge, utilizand metode biotehnologice avansate’’
europe EU co-funded 2019-2023
Acronym: SmartVac
Budget: 1.500.000 EUR
Project director: Norica Nichita

We aim to produce high yields of novel HBV/HCV antigens with superior immunogenic properties in plants and mammalian cells, based on innovative molecular design and establish in premiere an advanced biotechnological platform for production of best vaccine candidates antigens in algae.

Impact of Early life MetaBolic and psychosocial strEss on susceptibility to mental Disorders; from converging epigenetic signatures to novel targets for therapeutic intervention
europe EU co-funded 2019-2022
Acronym: EMBED
Project director: Robi Tacutu

Starting 01.06.2019, the Institute of Biochemistry of the Romanian Academy is implementing the EMBED project, funded by UEFISCDI (contract 103, from 01.06.2019), through the ERA-NET COFUND-NEURON III grant call. The project aims to assess the shared molecular links between pre- and post-natal, metabolic and psychosocial stress, and the risks of depression later in life, and its duration will be 36 months.

Gerontomics: Multi-omics prediction system for prioritization of gerontological interventions
europe EU co-funded 2016-2021
Acronym: Gerontomics
Project director: Robi Tacutu

Starting 02.09.2016, the Institute of Biochemistry of the Romanian Academy is implementing the project “Multi-omics prediction system for prioritization of gerontological interventions”, co-funded through European Fund for Regional Development, in accordance with the funding contract signed by the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research. The total funding for the project is 8.524.757,50 lei, of which 8.502.557,50 lei represent non-reimbursable funding. The project’s duration is 48 months.

Development of a cost effective Romania-Norway joint plant-based technology platform for production of vaccines against Human Hepatitis viruses B (HBV) and C (HCV)
europe EU co-funded 2014-2017
Project director: Norica Nichita

Hepatitis B (HBV) and C viruses (HCV) are important human pathogens resulting in more than 500 million people being currently carriers. Sadly, Romania has the highest prevalence of HBV/HCV infections among the EU countries (up to 7% of the population). Chronically infected patients of HBV and HCV are at high risk to develop severe liver diseases, such as fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Real-time imaging of the viral modules during Hepatitis C Virus assembly
europe EU co-funded 2014
Acronym: HCVAsmImage
Project director: Costin-Ioan Popescu

HCV is a major cause of chronic hepatitis worldwide. A better understanding of the HCV life cycle is needed to develop new treatments against this virus. A peculiarity of HCV is the crucial role played by both structural and non-structural proteins in the assembly process. Indeed, practically all HCV proteins have been shown to be involved in the virion assembly process. The present project aims to characterize the spatial and temporal relationship between all the viral proteins during viral assembly.

Identification of host factors involved in hepatitis C virus assembly and characterization of their potential role in vivo
europe EU co-funded 2014
Project director: Costin-Ioan Popescu

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an important human pathogen that infects the liver and establishes chronic infection in the majority of cases, leading to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma over the course of many years. Despite recent progress, details of the HCV life cycle are still missing, with the HCV assembly process being particularly poorly understood.

Biotehnologii Celulare si Moleculare cu Aplicatii in Medicina
europe EU co-funded 2010-2013
Acronym: Programul Postdoctoral
Project director: Stefana-Maria Petrescu

Programul Postdoctoral "Biotehnologii Celulare si Moleculare cu Aplicatii in Medicina", se adreseaza tinerilor cu diploma de doctor in biologie, chimie, fizica, medicina si informatica - interesati de burse de cercetare Post Doctorala la standarde europene.

Dezvoltarea infrastructurii de cercetare a Institutului de Biochimie in vederea cresterii competitivitatii in domeniul proteomicii biomedicale
europe EU co-funded 2010-2012
Acronym: PROCERA
Project director: Stefana-Maria Petrescu

Scopul PROCERA este de a dezvolta infrastructura IBAR pentru cresterea capacitatii de cercetare-dezvoltare C-D in domeniul biochimiei si biologiei moleculare pe plan national, precum si a competitivitatii cercetarii stiintifice romanesti la nivel european.

Intarirea capacitatii administrative a Institutului de Biochimie
europe EU co-funded 2010
Acronym: ICAIB
Project director: Anca Roseanu

Începând cu data de 16.06.2010, Institutul de Biochimie beneficiază de asistenţă financiară nerambursabilă pentru implementarea proiectului “Întărirea capacităţii administrative”, în baza contractului de finanţare nr. 167/16.06.2010 semnat cu Organismul Intermediar ANCS Bucureşti.

Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases: Structure, regulation and biological function
europe EU co-funded 2007 - 2011 Grant agreement ID: 35830
Acronym: PTPNET
Project director: Stefan Szedlacsek

Project Funded under: Human resources and Mobility in the specific programme for research, technological development and demonstration "Structuring the European Research Area" under the Sixth Framework Programme 2002-2006. PTPNET was a Training Network for young scientists in the field of protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) research.

International collaborations

Radiolabelling of affibody for tumor diagnostic and theranostic application in the nuclear medicine
international International 2022-2024 Bilateral projects
Acronym: Bilateral agreement no.2886/15.09.2021 Romanian Academy- Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Project director: Stefan Szedlacsek

The project is agreed as a joint collaboration among IBAR, ATOMKI and UD, the latter being a cost free participant. There are two main directions envisaged by the proposed project: - receptors mapping and therapy, using an affibody against HER2 receptors, combined with an adequate radioisotope. In this respect, the specific objectives are: a) expression and purification of affibodies; b) establishing labelling procedures; c) ex vivo and/or in vivo testing of optimal compounds.

Biochemical and cellular investigations on the potential use of affibodies in leukemia therapy
international International 2022 - 2023 Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program/ FFC_3-0119.
Acronym: LEUKEMIA. Grant no.779/14.06.2022
Project director: Stefan Szedlacsek

Affibody molecules are highly promising therapeutic candidates due to their advantageous features like: small size, efficient delivery, straightforward engineering towards improved formats, site-directed conjugation of payloads, possibility of GMP production by chemical synthesis or inexpensive bacterial production leading to low product costs.

Biochemical and cellular investigations on the potential use of affibodies in leukemia therapy
Novel radiolabeled affibodies for targeted imaging and therapy
international International 2019-2022
Acronym: Bilateral agreement no.3698/13.09.2018 Romanian Academy- Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Project director: Stefan Szedlacsek

The project is agreed as a bilateral collaboration between IBAR and ATOMKI, and the University of Debrecen and IFIN-HH participate in this project voluntarily.

Structural and Kinetic analysis of the functional complex between protein tyrosine phophatase SL (PTP-SL) and Erk2 MAP kinase
international International 2004 - 2008 The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)
Acronym: PTP-SL
Project director: Stefan Szedlacsek

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is the most important independent research funding organisation in Germany. It supports both scientific and humanistic studies and aims to promote top-level research in various disciplines at universities and research institutions. The main focus is on funding projects proposed by the scientific community, with an emphasis on knowledge-driven research.

Structural insights into three domains of PTP-Basophil-like protein tyrosine phosphatase
international International 01.10.2005 - 30.09.2009 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Acronym: PTP-BL
Budget: 50.000 €
Project director: Stefan Szedlacsek

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation promotes academic cooperation between foreign and German researchers at the highest level. Each year, the Foundation awards more than 700 research fellowships and awards to support researchers from abroad who come to Germany to work on a research project together with German researchers at a host institute. The research topic is chosen by the applicant.

National grants

romania National 2023-2025 GAR2023
Acronym: RepozIL
Budget: 200.000 RON
Project director: Marioara Chiritoiu-Butnaru

Usage of high speed robotics algorithms for in-sillico assisted experimental research of large biomolecular systems
romania National 2021–2023
Acronym: CYBORG
Project director: Laurentiu Spiridon

This project aims to improve protein engineering for medical and food security applications by leveraging advanced in silico assistance. Our software, Robosample, combines robotics algorithms with Gibbs sampling to accurately recover biomolecular free energy surfaces. We will further integrate robotics and molecular simulation by introducing new non-equilibrium sampling methods and novel robotic joints.

Molecular mechanisms of protein aggregation and unconventional secretion in the context of inflammation and neurodegenerative disorders
romania National 2021-2023
Acronym: AggrInflam
Budget: 431.900 RON
Project director: Marioara Chiritoiu-Butnaru

This project aims to understand the molecular events associated with protein aggregation and how a Golgi located protein along with the UPR pathway modulate this process. Model proteins such as IL-1β and α-synuclein, previously shown to aggregate will be employed for these studies. Achieving the objectives of this project should facilitate the understanding of the signaling pathways and the sequence of events correlating the stress sensing machinery with cytoplasmic proteome instability.

Identification of new molecules involved in melanoma associated antigens production
romania National 2020-2022 PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2019-1278/PD183
Acronym: ImmunoMOD
Budget: 246,950 RON
Project director: Gabriela Chiritoiu

This project aims to develop new strategies to improve the capacity of antigen presenting tumor cells to activate cytotoxic T cells and hamper immune escape mechanisms in cancer.

Gene Transcriptional Signatures in Healthy Ageing and Related Pathologies
romania National 2020-2022
Acronym: GeT-SHARP
Budget: 431,900 RON
Project director: Robi Tacutu

The project aims to analyze and compare the age-related transcriptomics signatures in variuos tisues, both in healthy and pathological individuals, in order to identify shared or unique aging signature that drive aging or age-related diseases.

High-throughput screening platform for small-molecules with anti-inflammatory potential
romania National 2020-2022
Acronym: HTS-IL-1β
Budget: 600.000 RON
Project director: Marioara Chiritoiu-Butnaru

This project aims to develop a sensitive high-throughput screening platform by generating an endogenously tagged interleukin-1β reporter cell line by CRISPR-Cas9 technology, able to monitor stimulated IL-1β secretion with the purpose to identify new chemical compounds with anti-inflammatory activity that will be validated in primary macrophages and a mouse model for sepsis.

Context-dependent therapeutic targeting of ovarian cancer metastasis using TG2 small molecule inhibitors
romania National 2020-2022 PED
Budget: 600,000 RON
Project director: Livia Sima

The principal goal of this project is the development of a new class of small molecule inhibitors (SMIs) targeting TG2-FN interaction, which is currently in the phase of lead optimization, translatable to clinical use for prevention of ovarian cancer dissemination, either alone or in combinations.

Role of TG2 in cancer tumor microenvironment for guiding metastasis prevention therapeutic approaches
romania National 2020-2022 TE
Acronym: TG2TARGET
Budget: 431,900 RON
Project director: Livia Sima

The overall goal of the current project is to understand the impact of tissue transglutaminase (TG2) targeting in the context of ovarian cancer (OC) tumor microenvironment (TME). Our aproach is aimed at testing the hypothesis that interventions in targeting TG2 in the OC TME will disrupt pro-tumorigenic signaling cross-talk within tumors.

Automated Nematode Screening for Neurodegenerative Diseases
romania National 2020-2022
Acronym: ANS-ND
Budget: 600,000 RON
Project director: Robi Tacutu

The project aims to experimentally develop an integrated and automated solution for screening drugs and genetic interventions for neurodegenerative diseases, using the nematode C. elegans and ageing-related data.

Exploitation of innovative targets against Alzheimer's disease and related neurodegenerative disorders
romania National 2018-2021
Acronym: XploitAD
Project director: Laurentiu Spiridon

This project aims to enhance our understanding of the complex biochemical processes involved in Alzheimer's disease and overcome existing limitations in amyloid research by developing an analytical system capable of detecting amyloid concentration during the aggregation stage and advancing drug development in this field.

Free energy prediction of biomolecular processes using high speed robotics algorithms and its use in in-silico driven experimental research
romania National 2018-2020
Acronym: ROBOFEP
Project director: Laurentiu Spiridon

By developing new methods which leverage high-speed robotics algorithms, we undertake the effort to enhance free energy prediction for biomolecular processes. Our focus includes integrating these advancements into existing APIs and applying them to key areas of molecular biosciences such as plant-pathogen interaction, drug design, and immunotherapy.

Molecular mechanisms of hepatitis B virus egress
romania National 2018-2020 PN-III-RU-TE-2016
Budget: 100.000 Euro
Project director: Catalin Lazar

Considering the molecular features of the secretory autophagy, on one hand and the enhanced HBV production by degradation-independent autophagy, on the other hand, we hypothesized that HBV employs this peculiar form of autophagy for its own egress. We further proposed that the M protein plays a pivotal role in tilting the equilibrium between viral degradation and secretion towards the latter, due to the presence of the preS2 domain glycan.

In vitro evaluation of potential biomedical strategies aimed to prevent bone loss during spaceflight
romania National 2017-2019
Project director: Stefana-Maria Petrescu

Bone loss represents one of the most important health problems experienced by Space travelling astronauts. Microgravity produces deterioration of the skeleton due to lack of mechanical loading thus affecting both muscle and bones. Tendons stiffness decreases, muscle fibres atrophies and attenuates their metabolic capacity, whileprogressive cartilage loss occurs.

Microfluidic assay of FGF2 therapeutic administration for bone regeneration
romania National 2017-2019
Acronym: μFGF2bone
Project director: Gabriela Chiritoiu

Musculoskeletal disorders affect 1 in 7 people and fractures alone affect 1 in 50 people annually while 10% of bone injuries fail to heal. Our present proposal aims to test for the first time the potential of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2), to be administered as a stimulatory drug to enhance bone regeneration.

Structure Assisted Investigation of Critical Protein Families Involved in Plant Immunity
romania National 2017-2019
Project director: Andrei-José Petrescu

This project aims to address a number of structural aspects related to key elements of the plant immune system and its pathogen interactors using a combined approach intricating experimental and computational steps. To this end we intend to build on our previous results in the field and further develop experimental, bioinformatics and molecular modeling methods appropriate for solving the specific problems implied by this proposal.

Human lactoferrin-derived peptides with broad spectrum antiviral activity
romania National 2017-2018 PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2016
Budget: 133.300 Euro
Project director: Catalin Lazar

Lactoferrin (Lf), an immunomodulatory glycoprotein was shown to interfere with the life-cycles of many viruses. Our group has rationally designed and characterized the anti-HBV activity of an Lf-derived peptide containing one of the cationic clusters. This project proved the concept that the development of non-toxic, small Lf-derived molecule(s) with a broad-spectrum anti-viral activity may constitute a valuable, cheaper alternative to the current standard of care.

Development of a fluorescence-based technology to screen for RAGE-ligand binding inhibitors
romania National 2016-2020
Project director: Ioana Popa

The receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) and its ligands are important players in pathological conditions such as diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancers. RAGE is a cell surface molecule of the immunoglobulin superfamily. Alternatively spliced variants lacking either only the intracellular domain or both the intracellular and the transmembrane domains are also expressed in some tissues.

Platforma robusta pentru descoperirea de medicamente anti-diabetice
romania National 2016-2019
Project director: Florentina Pena

Societatea contemporana se afla in mijlocul unei epidemii globale de diabet zaharat tip 2. Aceasta boala este caracterizata de concentratii patologic crescute de glucoza in sangele pacientilor datorita productiei, secretiei si utilizarii inadecvate a insulinei - hormonul principal care regleaza concentratia de glucoza serica. Ne propunem sa generam linii reporter stabile ce pot fi utilizate pentru cuantificarea insulinei secretate.

The role of the endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation in establishment of persistent Hepatitis B Virus infection
romania National 2013-2016 PN-II-RU-TE-2012
Acronym: HBVERAD
Budget: 174.400 Euro
Project director: Catalin Lazar

The objectives of this project aim to identify as many as possible cell proteins with a role in processing HBV envelpe proteins and to make a correlation between the HBV cccDNA which is the replicative form of the virus and the expression level of cellular proteins involved in the debradation of the HBV envelope proteins. The results will be confirmed in vivo using human hepatocytes explanted from the patiens chronically infected with HBV.

Selectia cailor de degradare a proteinelor in patogeneza bolilor umane
romania National 2013-2015
Project director: Stefana-Maria Petrescu

A considerable fraction of all newly synthesized secretory polypeptides fail to attain their native conformation due to mutations, transcriptional and translational errors, folding defects or endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress conditions.

Role of the ERAD pathway in the degradation of tyrosinase and production of antigenic peptides in human melanoma
romania National 2012-2015
Acronym: TYRPRES
Project director: Stefana-Maria Petrescu

A detailed knowledge of the mechanisms of antigen processing and presentation is essential to optimize cancer vaccination. known as Endoplasmic Reticulum Associated Degradation (ERAD). Non cytosolic misfolded proteins, synthesized at the endoplasmic reticulum are degraded to peptides by a complex machinery Cancer immunotherapy aims at harnessing the resources of the immune system to treat cancer.

Reconstruction of Ancestor of Receptor Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Catalytic
romania National 2011 - 2016 PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0743
Acronym: PTPs
Project director: Stefan Szedlacsek

Proteins are essential players of all biological processes and they are involved in practically every function performed by a living cell.

Degradation pathways of human hepatitis B virus envelope proteins
romania National 2010-2012 PNII-RU-PD-2009-1
Acronym: -
Budget: 64.500 Euro
Project director: Catalin Lazar

Degradation of the viral proteins in infected cells is a way to avoid their aberrant accumulation, on one hand, and generate viral peptides, which will be presented at cell surface by the major histocompatibility complex, raising an immune response, on the other hand. In the case of HBV infection, accumulation of mutant viral proteins within the endoplasmic reticulum can result in a particular phenotype, characterised by a ground glass appearance of hepatocytes.

Mass spectrometry based investigation of the oxidative stress as a potential key-player in the immunobiology of melanoma
romania National 02/05/2018 - 31/08/2020 PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-1528
Budget: 250 000 RON
Project director: Cristian Munteanu

Defining novel potential therapeutic targets in melanoma immunobiology using a combined proteome-immunopeptidome mass-spectrometry based analysis
romania National 01/09/2020-30/11/2022 PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2019-1242
Acronym: OXPROT
Budget: 246 950 RON
Project director: Cristian Munteanu


Compound for inhibition of certain signaling processes related to the evolution of the cognitive processes
sponsorship Sponsorship 2017-2018
Acronym: Ctr.327/27.03.2017/Company CRU SRL, Medical Services Company/ Dunakesz, Hungary
Project director: Stefan Szedlacsek

The main idea of this project was that by inhibiting at least one of these two interactions of GluA2, the internalization of AMPAR will be reduced and therefore the synapse resistance will be increased, thus leading to improved cognitive functions.

Compound for inhibition of certain signaling processes related to the evolution of the cognitive processes
Microsoft Azure Research
sponsorship Sponsorship 2017-2018
Acronym: ML for Aging Research
Project director: Robi Tacutu

The Systems Biology of Aging team is grateful for the "Microsoft Azure for Research" sponsorship awarded to our group. We have received cloud computing resources worth the equivalent of 20,000$ credits, and this has greatly helped us to speed up some of our research projects.