07/2/14 7:09 PM

Greece, 52 research institutes

A diver installs a measuring equipment on the seabed.
A diver installs a measuring equipment on the seabed.

The Greek network was initiated through the preparation phase of the LifeWatch ESRFI Platform. It was built on a "bottom up" philosophy and currently includes 52 research institutes and academic establishments spread all over the state. In addition, it has a strong support from a number of stakeholders and potential end-users of the infrastructure which has been designed, from both the private and public sectors.

It is coordinated by the Institute of Marine Biology and Genetics (IMBG) of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR). However, the management is implemented by 25 partners who form the Steering Committee of the Network. This Network run mostly on the web in 2010 and succeeded in delivering a Feasibility Study, along with a formal proposal for the national LifeWatch infrastructure in March 2011. At present, the Network awaits the minister's decision on the funding of the next phases of the platform, that is development and implementation.

The coordinating institute is a research entity since 2003. It has achieved an excellence status in marine biodiversity research and is one of the very few EU centres following a multidisciplinary approach by encompassing all levels of the biological organisation from molecules (genes) all the way up to communities (habitats, ecosystems).

According to the Presidential Decree 164/2003 establishing IMBG: "The scientific object of the Institute of Marine Biology and Genetics is the research and technological developments mainly in the fields of biodiversity, structure and dynamics of ecosystems, ecosystem management, genetics of marine organisms, the search for new or improved products and organisms, as well as the authentication and origin identification of organisms and their products". This mission is reached through interdisciplinary, integrative and dynamically interacting approaches for studying, monitoring and exploiting the structural and functional diversity from DNA to ecosystems at different scales. Major fields include Genomics, Biodiversity/Ecology, Bioinformatics and Biodiversity informatics.

Over the last years, since the appointment of the first director, the institute has made progress at many levels. The following achievements can be considered as its primary contribution to the marine biodiversity research activity, at national and international levels:

(a) its active involvement in all major European Networks of Excellence, which deal with biodiversity and which have been funded under the       sixth Framework Programme: Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (MarBEF) and Marine Genomics Europe (MGE). The Institute is       deeply involved in the next steps of the development and maintenance of a long lasting structure which takes over the activities after the           end of the above Networks of Excellence. IMBG also represented the state in the European Distributed Institute for Taxonomy (EDIT NoE);

(b) the submission and successful implementation, following evaluation by independent Committees, of two national Excellence projects;

(c) the submission and successful coordination and management, following evaluation by an independent Committee, of the national project      on the development of the Hellenic Network for Biodiversity Research (Helbionet) in the context of the European Infrastructure LifeWatch;          the Helbionet project coordinated fifty academic departments and research institutes all over Greece and more than four                                hundreds  scientists;

(d) its active involvement in the European Infrastructure ESFRI EMBRC;

(e) its partnership in a series of cooperation projects in the field of aquaculture genomics for Mediterranean fish species-targets;

(f) the coordination of the strategic research on comparative genomics in the course of the European Framework Programmes 5 and 6,            which paved the initial idea towards the implementation of the European Platform on the aquaculture Eatip and its national counterpart              HATIP;

(g) its partnership in a series of EU funded projects in the course of several funding instruments (FP7, COST, Interreg), which deal with              marine biodiversity. In most of them IMBG leads a Workpsackage and holds a chair in the managerial or executive bodies;

(h) the institution's excellence project " Supporting research potential for marine biodiversity and genomics in the Eastern Mediterranean"         (Marbigen), which runs under the  Regpot (FP7, Capacities);

(i) its large scale equipment which makes possible the elaboration of research in cutting-edge scientific fields, such as pyro-sequencer (-454       technology), micro-CT scanner, multi-corer parallel computing power. This new infrastructure has been purchased by using EU and                   structural funds, through successful proposals and is expected to marshal even more challenging science in the core projects of the institute.

The scientific excellence of the IMBG was evaluated by an independent Committee in 2005. The Committee sites the following comments in its report: "....The Institute of Marine Biology and Genetics was in general found to be of very high standard, ranking amongst the best in Europe..... world-class innovation and leading-edge science was applied by the research teams within the Institute of Marine Biology and Genetics...... in population genetics and its application, the institute is clearly at the cutting edge in the world...".

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