Career Accelerator for Research Infrastructure Scientists

L-Università ta’Malta, Department of Applied Biomedical Sciences


L-Universita ta’ Malta traces its origins to the founding of the Collegium Melitense by the Jesuits in 1592. The College was raised to University status by Grand Master Manoel Pinto de Fonseca in 1769. Situated at Msida, it is the highest teaching institution of the State by which it is mainly financed and is open to all those who have the requisite qualifications. Over the past few years, the University has reviewed it s structures in order to be in line with the Bologna process. Conscious of its public role, the University strives to create courses which are relevant and timely in response to the national, regional and international needs. The supreme governing bodies of the University are the Council and the Senate. There are over 11,500 students including over 1,000 foreign/exchange students from 92 different countries and 450 visiting students, following full-time or part-time degree and diploma courses. The University is geared towards the infrastructural and industrial needs of the country so as to provide expertise in crucial fields. Well over 3,000 students graduate in various disciplines annually. The degree courses at the University are designed to produce highly qualified professionals, with experience of research, who will play key roles in industry, commerce and public affairs in general.

The University has been involved as coordinator and partner in numerous EU-funded projects under various Programs including FPS/6/7, Lifelong Learning Programme, Culture 2000, Tempus, H2020 and various other international and regional programmes and initiatives. The University is also represented in a number of European and international University networks and groups.

The Department of Applied Biomedical Science within the Faculty of Health Sciences is responsible for undergraduate teaching leading to a B.Sc. (Hons) in Applied Biomedical Science (previously Medical Laboratory Science) and post-graduate teaching leading to an MSc (by Research) in Applied Biomedical Science. The Department is currently expanding its doctoral programme and has an active research programme, in areas which include: Genetics of Osteoporosis, Inflammation, Atherosclerosis and Myocardial Infarction, Genetics of Tetrahydrobiopterin deficiencies, Transcriptional Regulation and Control of Globin Gene Expression and Next Generation Sequencing of disorders common to the Maltese Islands.

The Department of Applied Biomedical Science is also a founding member of the Centre for M olecular Medicine and BioBanking. The Centre brings together some 30 senior scientists from 3 Faculties of the University (8 departments) and the Department of Health and a similar number of younger researchers pursuing MSc, PhD and postdoctoral programmes. The Centre is a hub of research activities that in the main focus on the molecular mechanisms that give rise to disease.

Professor Joseph Borg from the Department of Applied Biomedical Science will coordinate the Malta part of the proposal. Moreover, through the Dept’s collaborative ties with all the other departments making up the Centre for Molecular Medicine and BioBanking, a critical mass of researchers and students will benefit from the t raining activities out lined in the COFUND proposal. Furthermore , all the necessary infrastructure and equipment required for successful t raining activities is already in place at the UM.

The Department of Applied Biomedical Science has research laboratories both at Mater Dei Hospital, just adjacent to the University campus and within the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Biobanking located in the Biomedical Sciences Building on campus. These laboratories are used primarily for rapid sample processing of blood and tissue samples obtained from various clinics at Mater Dei Hospital (on the hospital site) and basic genetic techniques and NGS data analysis (on campus). Through allocation of the ERDF grant ‘Enhancing Healt h Biotechnology Facilities at the University’, the department also has access to state-of-the-art equipment in several labs on campus – including lllumina NGS equipment, Agilent Bioanalyzer and Nanodrop, DNA shearing equipment (Covaris), biobanking facility, tandem MS, flow cytometers with cell sorter, molecular separation equipment (eg HPLC,capillary electropho resis), laser microdisseciton, cell culture and cloning labs, real-time PCR m achines, FRET and BRET ins t rum ents.

Through other ERDF funds t he L-Universita ta’ Malta has a Supercomputing laboratory which is available for the analysis of HTS data. This is besides other facilities such as computer labs, library, video conferencing halls and other information technology services.

As a partner in t his project, the L-Universita ta’ Malta intends to cooperate with the EMBL towards t raining of the Fellows. L-Universita ta’ Malta can host up to four Fellows per year in the period 2020-2024 through secondments and introduce t hem to the ways of working, instrumentation and procedures at the L-Universita ta’ Malta and other sites designated by the L-Universita ta’ Malta in Industry. Duration of secondments will be

between 2 and 6 months and will be arranged in communication with the Fellow. Fellows who will do secondments at L-Universita ta’ Malta will come from the field related or complementary to the field of work of the L-Universita ta’ M alta. At L-Universita ta’ Malta,

Fellows will have a possibility to learn a number of technologies and methods that include; cell culturing of a number of cell lines, and primary human cells related to on area of interest, next generation sequencing using MiSeq 11/umino techniques, Flow Cytometry, RNA extraction and real time PCR of target genes, protein analysis that include reverse phase HPLC and western blotting. The Fellows will also have a chance to get acquainted with data pertaining to the handling of ATACseq, ChlPseq, RNAseq and genome sequencing (both full genomes and exomes) data that shall be made available by the Pis from UM, or from public databases accessible remotely . Fellows will also get the chance to see the operation of number of dedicated laboratories focusing on (i) Biochemistry and separation techniques, (ii) Molecular Diagnostics and their role in health and medicine, (iii) Cloning facility and CRISPR/Cas9 procedures.

Universita ta’ Malta will dedicate supervision capacity for each fellow on secondments . During secondments, Fellows can stay employed by EMBL.

L-Universita ta’ Malta intends also to host mini-secondments in a duration of up to two weeks, during which Fellows will shadow operations at L-Universita ta’ Malta.