2014 was a year full of frantic and beneficial activity at the CRG, which served to strengthen the institute after the financial crisis. Despite this consolidation, scientists and staff members continued pursuing excellence at all levels in their respective research fields and work areas. Bearing this in mind, in April, the Systems Biology programme had their second external evaluation by an international panel, chaired by Prof. Veronica van Heyningen (UCL, London). The programme was rated as “excellent at the highest international level”.
Moreover, in July the four research-oriented departments, which include International & Scientific Affairs, Grants & Academic Management, Technology Transfer, and Communications & PR were evaluated for the first time by external and international panels, also chaired by Prof. van Heyningen. The panel members were different for each department and included experts from each area evaluated. The assessments were really positive for all the departments and included helpful and constructive recommendations for further improvement.
A broad spectrum of projects, activities and collaborations were launched or further developed, such as the European alliances EU-LIFE and CORE for LIFE, as well as other memberships and partnerships in prestigious European initiatives, in addition to all the European projects coordinated by the CRG. To facilitate translational research, the institute has established several initiatives and partnerships with hospitals and translational research groups in the Barcelona area, and together with the IRB Barcelona, VHIR and IDIBAPS will launch a collaborative research training programme for medical doctors (PhD4MD) in 2015.
In 2014 the CRG experienced a significant funding boost (€20.8 million) as both the highly competitive initiatives ERC Synergy grant and AXA Chair in Risk prediction in age-related diseases from the AXA Research Fund got the go ahead after a negotiation phase initiated in previous years.
The number and quality of papers published by CRG scientists have not stopped increasing. In 2014, 2031 papers were published in peer-reviewed journals with an average impact factor of 9,011, and 114 seminars were held by top-level invited speakers. The media picked up many of these activities, and the CRG hit the news (newspapers, radio, and TV) on 868 occasions.
The SCImago Institution Rankings (SIR) World Report 2014 classifies the CRG in 9th position (according to the Q1 indicator, health sector) in the world. In Europe only two 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.
At the beginning of November, we celebrated our 13th Annual Symposium, entitled “Gene Regulation, Stem Cells and Cancer”. Understanding the genetic and epigenetic processes that determine the identities of the different cell types in a multicellular organism is one of the key problems in biology. The possibility of reversing these processes to generate pluripotent cells from differentiated somatic cells is opening new frontiers in the understanding of organ morphogenesis and regeneration. Furthermore, striking parallels are emerging between the molecular circuits behind changes in cellular potency and those leading to cell transformation in cancer. This symposium brought together world-leading scientists on a wide range of topics around the general themes of regulation of gene expression and the biology of stem and cancer cells. By concentrating leaders from a variety of specialisms, the symposium was particularly fruitful for showcasing the diversity of approaches and concepts at the vanguard of these fields (http://2014symposium.crg.eu/).
Finally, some of our young and senior scientists obtained awards and honours in recognition of the excellence of their science during the year. Bill Keyes was awarded the “City of Barcelona Prize” 2013. In April, the AXA Research Fund gave Ben Lehner the AXA Chair in Risk prediction in age-related diseases. Mara Dierssen was appointed a member of Academia Europaea, a non-governmental association comprising scientists and scholars who collectively aim to promote learning, education and research, and Dierssen also received the 2014 David and Hillie Mahoney Award for an Individual’s Contribution to Outreach, aka the Dana/EDAB Neuroscience Outreach Champion Award. Gian Gaetano Tartaglia was appointed an ICREA Research Professor, and Gloria Mas Martin, a postdoctoral researcher in Luciano Di Croce’s lab, received an award from the BBVA Foundation.
 This includes: articles and reviews