As life sciences become increasingly dependent on technology, creating Core Facilities for shared usage is an excellent approach to exploiting technology to the fullest, to build networks and to integrate expertise - in a cost-effective manner. When functioning well, Core Facilities are an attractive force for hiring ambitious technology-driven scientists and generate a competitive advantage for all scientists in the institute and even to the research community beyond. However, ensuring that Core Facilities really bring a competitive advantage bears several challenges, managing the needs of all stake holders, hiring and retaining the right expertise, being always at the forefront of fast-evolving technologies and acquiring the necessary funding for investments, being only some of them. Complexity of challenges argues that dialogue with peers is the way forward.
Core for Life crystallized from roundtables held between the Core Facility Directors of several life science institutes with a validated track record in running cutting-edge core facilities, in which the need for joining forces and sharing expertise across Europe was identified. Mid 2012 the founding partners (CRG, EMBL, ETH/UZH, IMP, CSF, MPI-CBG, VIB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding and created Core for Life as a pan-European excellence alliance for core facilities. The proposal is to nucleate Core for Life in this small circle of excellence, to work towards achieving some concrete goals, and to explore the possibility of extending the alliance and incorporating additional partners at a later stage.
Core for Life founders agreed upon an ambitious - though realistic – roadmap, with below concrete goals in scope for 2012-2013:
1. Definition of best practices and common standards for
a) Core facility management
b) Standard operation procedures
c) Quality control
d) Pricing policies
2. Establishment of a training network for core facility personnel.
3. Scouting for and validation of emerging technology platforms with shared, non-confidential datasets.
4. Exploring models for capacity sharing across institutes, as well as models for shared investments.
5. Lobbying at national and EU level for increased funding opportunities for core facilities, shared equipment and core facility networks.
6. Exploring the possibility to create a “European Association of Life Science Research Facilities”.
Founding members of Core for Life are the Core Facility Directors from:
Dr. Geert Van Minnebruggen (VIB)
Dr. Doris Meder (MPI-CBG)
Dr. Christian Boulin (EMBL)
Dr. Andreas Tiran (CSF)
Dr. Ivan Baines (MPI-CBG)
Dr. Ralph Schlapbach (FGCZ)
For all further information and specific questions related to Core for Life, research institutes and/or individuals are invited to send a mail to the alliance coordinators, i.e. Geert Van Minnebruggen and Doris Meder.
Core4Life_ position paper.pdf