logoSUCCESS STORIES
logo

Institute Of Cellular Biology and Pathology

"Nicolae Simionescu"

  1. Identification of an enterprise
  2. Name: Institute of Cellular Biology and Pathology "Nicolae Simionescu"

    Location: Romania

    Address: 8,B.P.Hasdeu Street, Bucharest,PO Box 35-14,Romania

    Telephone.: +401 4110860

    Fax: +401 4111143

    E-mail: simionescum@simionescu.instcellbiopath.ro

    http: //simionescu.instcellbiopath.ro

  3. Identification of the person who provided the information
    included in this report
  4. Dr. Anca Sima, Phone: +40-1-4115240, Fax: +40-1-4111142

    http://simionescu.instcellbiopath.ro

  5. Economical characteristics of an enterprise
    1. Scope of the business enterprise, product assortment

Thematic focus and development of the Centre

Statement of Purpose of our Programme: understanding, prevention, early diagnosis and better therapeutic control and cure of cardiovascular diseases by discerning at the cellular and molecular level the initial and the late pathobiochemical alterations occurring in heart and blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis, diabetes, ageing.

Thematic focus: From its foundation, twenty years ago, the main theme of our group was to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms occurring in the cardiovascular system (CVS) in health and diseases. The research agenda included a step by step approach, starting with (i) understanding the normal function and structures of various components of the cardiovascular system (heart, cardiac valves, large and small blood vessels) - Cell Biology of CVS - (ii) identification of cellular and molecular alterations occurring in blood vessels and plasma that initiate the cardiovascular diseases and their complications- Cell Pathology - and (iii) testing drugs and substances that can retard, reverse or prevent cardiovascular diseases- Cell PhArmacology of CVS. These major goals started in a successive fashion, but they overlapped one another; they brought information on fundamental cell biology as well as in the pathology of the cardiovascular system.

Research agenda

  1. Cell biology

II. Cell pathology

III. Cell pharmacology

A message from the founders

By Maya Simionescu

"Nicolae and Maya Simionescu dreamed of the Institute in 1971,long before a reality in 1979.It had a long gestation period , during which we had a more than great collaboration with professor George E. Palade at Rockefeller University and Yale University,USA.It was that time when we started actively to convert the dream into reality,hoping to create a place where the young Romanian researches will have a chance to show their potential and talent , and on a broader scale, to introduce modern cell biology in our country

We were lucky to see our dream come true

We decided to concentrate on one significant - scientifically and socio-economic - theme , that is to uncover at the cellular and molecular level, the functioning of the cardiovascular system in heath and disease, and use the findings to challenge the main cause of death in modern countries.

Since its inauguration 1979 the Institute was a place where , under rather difficult conditions , we created a protected island where together with our younger collaborators , we used all our mental power and energy , to be an active part and to enjoy the thrill of new discoveries in modern science.

Just like Brancusi "Endless Column", science is infinite; science has no limit , no frontiers, no borders,Just like the "Endless Column",science is a continuous, endless exploration to uncover nature's secrets, including our own.This is the adventure we have embarked on.

One of us had to leave earlier.

For our numerous young collaborators , same of which have chosen to carry through our thrive within the Institute same of which are far away , the best wish I can think of , is to continue and enjoy their inquiry into the Nature's secrets with determination and honesty.

I just hope , they will enjoy this , as much as we did."

The research program was mainly supported by grants obtained from NIH-USA (1980-1989),FIRCA_NIH (1991-1994),European Community (1993-1996) and Swiss National Science Foundation (1996-1998).

Scope:

Uncover at the cellular and molecular level , the functioning of the cardiovascular system in heath and disease , and use the findings to challenge the main cause of death in modern countries

Product assortment:

Co-operation and relations

ICBP has started its activity in 1979 in very difficult conditions for Romania in general, and for science, in particular. However, the skill, the creativity and the performance (publications and original concepts) of our group have attracted junior and senior scientists to come to the Institute.

Young investigators: 5 students from Yale University School of Medicine started their thesis degree in ICBP under the supervision of Dr. Maya Simionescu: F. Santoro, B. Klein, S. Peterek, L. Kuckes and L. Mark. Also, Dr. B. Mompeo from the Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universitas de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain was specialised in cell biology in ICBP.

Senior scientists that lectured in ICBP:

USA: G.E. Palade, C. De Duve, G. Blobel - Nobel Prize-winners, A. Almasan, R.W. Anderson, D. Bontea, B. Brewer, J. Castle, J.D. Catravas, S. N. Constantinescu, R. Cotran, F. Curry, M.G. Farquhar, J. Folkman, S. Fowler, R. Gerrity, M. Gimbrone, G. Grottendorst, A. Helenius, H. Hoff, R. Holmes, J. Jamieson, I. Joris, M. Karnovski, N. Kefalides, I. Kupfermann, H. Kruth, P. Lazarov, G. Majno, G. Mateescu, M. Nachtigal, M. W. Norrick, S. Parthasarathy, D.D. Sabatini, J. Sheridan, S. Silverstein, D. Steinberg, D. Stern, V. E. Velculescu, L. Weiss, J. Witztum, R. Wissler

Austria: D. Kerjaschi

Canada: J. Bergeron, Y. Clermont

Czech Republic: F. Z. Drahota,

England: M. Balls, H. Brown, Sir A. Epstein, F.Lupu, I.H. Morris,, E. Tomlinson, G. Willson

France: O. Bîrzu, G. Cohen, C. Corot, F.N. Horaud D. Meyer, J. Montreuil, L. Poenaru

Germany: A. Abbott, W. Franke, W. Loebel

Italy: G. Dini, J. Meldolesi, P. Motta

Israel: A. Abramovici

Japan: P. Nakane

Switzerland: W. Hunziker

Collaboration with foreign scientists: G.E. Palade, V. Ghetie, Bs. Jacobson, G. Majno, I. Joris, S. Silverstein, D. Stern (USA), C. Corot, D. Meyer (France), J. Bergeron, Y. Clermont (Canada), F. Lupu (England), M J. Mulvany (Denmark), K. Fiedler, W. Hunziker (Switzerland), B. Monpeo (Spain).

Networking activities and co-operation of ICBP with European Centres

International experience of the staff

Since most of the researchers from the Institute were trained in well-known European or American laboratories (see the table below), they have a reasonable good international experience and very good abilities in speaking English and in part, French. To preserve the abilities in languages, we often request that progress reports are given in English in order to refresh and maintain the capacity in speaking and presentation of data; also most of our papers are written and published in foreign journals.

1999 - In the fifth Framework Programme, we participated as member in three networks:

By the particulars of our programme we are co-operating with physicians from various cardiovascular units from Bucharest and this relationship was highly beneficial for both parts. We were able to use special equipment that is not available in our Institute and to obtain biological material necessary for our experiments. For the physicians, as well as for us, it is important to make a correlation between our experimental data and their clinical experience. They are enthusiastic to co-operate with us and we feel a need to share our data. In addition, we have been approached by local representatives of international pharmaceutical firms such as Rhone Poulenc in order to initiate a co-operation to test drugs on our experimental systems. We would like to increase these relationships.

Relevance of the work of the Centre for the economy and the society

Cardiovascular disease is an socio-economic problem of modern society. In the last years, more than in other parts of the world, the morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular diseases has increased in our country. For this reason, we believe that our work is important and hope that our present data and especially our future results will help in early diagnosis, and better therapeutic control of heart diseases. In a long run, by reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, will improve the humans’ life and will reduce the expenses of the society for the treatment of these disorders.

We believe that an important activity of our Institute is to teach students and train investigators in other fields of life science, so as to prepare the future generations of specialists. To this purpose, our scientists and all the facilities of the Institute (laboratories, library) are always open for students and researchers.

Future development

Although apparently basic research, we believe that soon our programme will be categorised as targeted research. This is because in the future (i) we will apply the data obtained so far in designing methods for early diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases, (ii) we will use the in vivo, in situ and in vitro models, that we already have, and our expertise in testing the effects of drugs on lipoproteins, isolated cells, as well as on the whole organism, and (iii) we hope to target drugs to specific sites that appear on surface of altered cells. This would be a logical continuation of our programme and a splendid combination of basic and applied research.

To this purpose we would like to increase collaborations with foreign scientist, the connections with pharmaceutical companies, the import of new technologies, in particular those employed in molecular biology and especially to attract dedicated and imaginative young scientists, a source of new ideas and enthusiasm.

    1. Legal status - Public institute
    2.  

    3. Principal economic indicators

Dynamics of number of employees

1979-2000 - 100 employees

Dynamics of turnover/budget: 150,000 EUR (budget for this year - 2000)

Research & development potential of the enterprise

Nr. of people involved in a R&D activities:

STRUCTURE OF THE CENTRE

Institute of Cellular Biology and Pathology "Nicolae Simionescu" has started its activity in 1979. From the beginning, the research activity was focused on one major topic: studies at the cellular and molecular level of the functionality of the cardiovascular system in health and disease. Within this large and generous programme, a large number of projects and subprojects were selected for each researcher so as to achieve a multidisciplinary approach.

ICBP has a total number of persons of 100 employees out of which 30 senior and junior investigators mostly biochemists, biophysicists, chemists and biologists that ensure a multidisciplinary approach to each project. The Institute is lead by a Scientific Council, a Director a Deputy Director and has a Scientific Secretary. The investigators are organised in specialised research laboratories that have a permanent staff and often are populated temporarily by students from different Universities, researchers from other Institutes of the country or from abroad. In addition, there are core laboratories for general techniques and central services.

Each working group is lead by an experienced group leader. Although organised in specialised laboratories, almost each investigator has a responsibility of a particular project emerging from the general programme, and to this purpose has to learn all the techniques involved in his/her project and is to use the shared facilities of the Institute.

Distribution of the staff

Qualifications:

Researchers - 12 PhD

- 10 PhD Students

- 14 Young investigators

- 14 Assistants in research

Diplomat Engineers - 4

Laboratory aids - 10

Librarians - 2

Computer services: - 4

Administration: - 8

Car driver - 1

Security - 7

Building maintenance - 14

WORKING GROUPS:

Biochemistry and Physiology of the Vessel Wall
Cell Adhesion and Thrombosis

 

Lipoproteins and Atherogenesis
Cellular Pharmacology
Cellular Receptors and Trafficking

Core Laboratories

Experimental Models - Animal husbandry
Cell Cultures
Electron microscopy - Cytochemistry - Image Analysis
Nuclear Unit (b and g )

The management concept

From its beginning among the major goals of ICBP was the provision of a favourable research climate and in-depth training of cell biologists of the Institute and of the whole country and to facilitate national and international scientific exchanges. We are trying to stimulate continuously the creativity of the researchers, exchanges of information, and a critical approach for each project. Thus, our entire group meets weekly, each researcher presents a progress report on his/her data, followed by interactive discussions that are highly beneficial for the next step of the project. Also young investigators are often sent for specialisation abroad, in laboratories in which they learn new techniques to be applied in their projects and introduced in our Institute (i.e. computer modelling in biology, molecular biology). The researchers may choose their projects in full academic freedom, assuming the responsibility for what they think and what they do.

Annually, we are trying to make an evaluation of the performance of each researcher. Projects are adjusted according to the results obtained. The negative data are seriously considered, and the decisions are taken together with the investigators for the continuation of a particular project. The performance, publications, general participation to the life of the Institute, and the genuine interest in science are the guidelines for selective remuneration of researchers.

There is a permanent communication between investigators, the group leader and the co-ordinator of the research programme. The work starts at 8.30a.m. and ends whenever experiments are finished; equipment that is left on overnight is supervised by the general security of the building.

Infrastructure and working environment

All the laboratories are endowed with the common equipment for biochemical techniques such as: chromatography, isoelectric focusing, electrophoresis, electrotransfer and UV-IR spectrophotometer. The core laboratories are equipped with the specific devices: Cell culture laboratory has 3 laminar flow hoods, monitored incubators inverted microscopes, centrifuges, etc; Radioisotope laboratories are equipped with Beckman beta and gamma counters and all the facilities imposed by the safety regulation for this area. It also includes facilities for Autoradiography at light and electron microscopy level. Three surgical rooms are equipped with microscopes and instruments for micro-, and macrosurgery. The Tissue preparation laboratory is supplied with two ultramicrotoms (Reichert, and American-Optical), cryotome for frozen sections (Leica CM 1800), freezer fracture apparatus (Balzer), quick-freezing (Slammer).

Central Core Instruments includes three Philips electron microscopes, HPLC system (Pharmacia) multiscan-(Labsystem) and Spectrofluorimeter (Schimadzu, Japan), Centrifuges and ultracentrifuges: Beckman Instruments with appropriate rotors, Polymerase Chain Reaction machine (Pharmacia), Nikon microphot- SA with Image analysis system, Myograph and interface.

Central Services: the library,computers with Intranet and Internet, photo and graphic services.

Animal Facilities: This section is housed on the upper floor with a total area of 1,400 m2; includes labs for animal genetics, surgery, nutrition, food pelleting, and 10 breeding and housing rooms for mice (700), rats (500), hamsters (500), guinea pigs (100) and rabbits (140).

In the basement, workshops for electronics, glass blowing, fine mechanics etc. are located.

There is an Auditorium with 160 seats with audio-visual facilities, a patio for poster display and recreation, two informal seminar rooms and a small cafeteria.

The laboratories are equipped with chemical hoods, separately ventilated and emergency showers. Biohazard laboratories (cell culture, monoclonal antibodies, molecular biology, nuclear units) observe the international regulations. The biologic radioactive and other biohazard waist materials are removed by specialised services under contract. Preventive measures against accidents, fire, and all safety regulation, misbehaviour and fraud in science and misconduct with laboratory animal are stipulated in the statute of the Institute, and are closely controlled.

Diversity of funding

Average annual budget of the Centre is 150 000 EUR.

In general, the sources are: the national budget, Grants from the Romanian Academy, Grants and Contracts from the National Agency of Science, Technology and Innovation, Grants from abroad.

In addition, for projects done in collaboration with various scientists from abroad, we have obtained chemicals, antibodies, radioisotopes, etc., important tools for our projects.

At present, we have national Grants that amount to about 42 000 USD, an UNESCO grant of 4 000 USD, a grant from Rhone Poulenc of 3 000 USD, and from Western University of Arad of 6 500 USD.

International grants:

1981 - 1983 78.138 $ nih - usa

1983 6.000 $ WELCOME trust, New England

1984 - 1986 112.600 $ nih - usa

1987 - 1989 115.500 $ nih - usa

1991 - 1993 40.000 $ FIRCA - NIH

1993 - 1996 30.000 $ COPERNICUS, Italy

1996 - 1997 10.000 $ UNESCO -MCBN

1995 - 1996 10.000 $ PECO, EU

1996 - 1998 40.000 sFr SNSF, Switzerland

1999 - 2000 4.000 $ UNESCO - MCBN

 

  1. Reason of the success

Role in international and local developments

From the beginning ICBP was a Centre for development of the field of cell biology in Romania. Along the years, students from the school of biochemistry, chemistry, medicine, biophysics received their PhD in the Institute (under the supervision of Nicolae Simionescu and Maya Simionescu), and numerous scientists from Romania were specialised in various techniques. Five students from Yale School of Medicine (USA) started their final thesis in the Institute. From 1982, the Romanian National Society of Cell Biology created under the auspices of ICBP is a Forum in which annually exchanges of results among the 450 members take place. Numerous scientists trained in ICBP are now working in various laboratories in Western Europe and USA. Researchers from ICBP were involved in international projects and their contribution appeared in numerous papers in collaboration (see list of publication). The means for scientific exchanges were: four international workshops held in ICBP, 18 national symposia, and numerous lectures of scientists from abroad in the Institute and of our researchers in laboratories at meetings held in Europe or USA.

Quality and volume of scientific activity

The results of our research appeared in about 260 papers published in great majority in international journals, and 53 chapters in international monographs. More than 160 posters and papers were presented at international congresses and 580 at national meetings. Our papers were published in various journals among which Journal of Cell Biology, Proceedings of National Academy of Science, USA, Laboratory Investigation, Physiological Reviews, American Journal of Pathology, Annual Reviews of Physiology, News in Physiological Sciences, Journal of Molecular Cell Cardiology, Analytical Biochemistry, Annals of New York Academy of Sciences, Journal of Lipid Research, Endothelium, etc. Monographs and chapters (by invitation) appeared in well known publishing houses such as Plenum Press, Lippincot-Raven Publishers, Springer-Verlag, Marcel Dekker Inc., etc. (see list of publications). We mention that due to the high charge per page of most journals and our low budget, often we have to choose to publish in those international journals that are free of charge. However, by the number of citations of our publications and the requests for reprints, we assume that our papers were well accepted by the international community.

Results of external evaluation, awards, prizes and special grants, etc.

At the request of the European Community –DGXII, the international firm Coopers & Lybrand Technology Consultants evaluated all the Romanian Research Institutes. ICBP was placed among the first nine most famous Institutes in Romania (see attached document at Section C10, No.3). In addition, in 1999 ICBP was recognised as a "Centre of Excellence" of the Romanian Academy.

Awards: 22 investigators from the institute received international and national awards and honours:

National Awards:

1990 - The "Victor Babes Prize" of the Romanian Academy to: Anca Sima

1991 - The "Emil Racovita Prize" of the Romanian Academy to: Nicolae Simionescu, Maya Simionescu, Felicia Antohe, Ludy Dobrila, Nicolae Ghinea, Mirela Hasu, Constantina Heltianu, Victor Jinga, Ileana Manduteanu, Violeta Partenie, Gabriel Popescu, Doina Popov, Eliza Vasile.

1994 - „Daniel Danielopolu Prize" of the Romanian Academy to: Cristina Lupu, Maria Calb

1994 - "Constantin Velican Award" of the Romanian Society for Cell Biology, for studies on Atherosclerosis to : Anca Sima

1995 - "Constantin Velican Award" of the Romanian Society for Cell Biology, for studies on Atherosclerosis to: Anca Dobrian

1998 - "Constantin Velican Award" of the Romanian Society for Cell Biology, for studies on Atherosclerosis to: Daniela Tirziu

1998 - „Nicolae Simionescu Prize“ of the Romanian Academy to: Monica Raicu

1999 - "Constantin Velican Award" of the Romanian Society for Cell Biology, for studies on Atherosclerosis to: Doina Popov

International Awards: to Maya Simionescu and Nicolae Simionescu

Special grants:

The research program was mainly supported by grants obtained from:

    1. Transformation of production

The Institute of Cellular Biology and Pathology (ICBP), was founded at the initiative and according to the structural and functional planning of Professors Nicolae and MayaSimionescu , who were trained in cell biology and worked on vascular endothelium with Nobel Prize-winner George E. Palade (1970 -1979) at the Rockefeller University and Yale University, USA.

For the next 15 years, Professors Simionescu have maintained the position of Visiting Professors at Yale University (New Haven, USA) and Columbia University (New York, USA) being for three months annually involved in teaching and research.

These associations with Prof. George E. Palade and american scientists such as M.G. Farquhar (University of California, San Diego, CA), S.C.Silverstein and D. Stern (Columbia University, New York, NY), J. Joris and G. Majno (Worcester, MA), D.D. Sabatini (New York University, NY), J. Bergeron (McGill University, Montreal), R.Ross (University of Washington, Seattle, WA), J. Jamieson, I. Mellman, A Helenius (Yale University, New Haven, CT), N. Kefalides (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA), V. Marchesi

(Yale University, New Haven, CT) have facilitated maintaining a privileged links with USA Universities and outstanding specialists in the field, to obtain fellowships for ICBP researchers and to keep an open bridge for Romanian-American scientific exchanges.

Along the years, numerous young investigators from ICBP were trained in prestigious American Universities: Yale University,New Haven, CT, Washington University, Seattle, WA, New York University, New York, NY, University of Texas, Dallas, TX, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, University of Chicago,Chicago, IL, University of San Francisco, CA, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Four Romanian - American workshops were held in ICBP, Bucharest (1979, 1983, 1985, 1989).

    1. Redemption of a license
    1. Transformation of an organizational structure
    2. Change of suppliers

The main suppliers became:

    1. Successful entry to a foreign market
    2. NO

    3. Successful entry to a foreign market
    4. No

    5. Relations to other institutes that influenced the success

 

    1. Other (indicate which)

Start the program for Postdoctoral training of scientists from abroad, as well as from Romania

  1. Main success factory (which steps and conditions are considered the main contributors to the success) - brief description
  1. Conclusions (a message to those who would like to follow)

Just like Brancusi "Endless Column", science is infinite; science has no limit , no frontiers, no borders,Just like the "Endless Column",science is a continuous, endless exploration to uncover nature's secrets, including our own.This is the adventure we have embarked on.