A state-funded International Clinical Research Centre is to be opened in the Czech Republic - the first and only institution of its kind in the world. The centre will be part of St. Anne's Hospital in the Moravian capital of Brno and will have three main goals: to engage the Czech Republic in important projects of applied research, carry out advanced diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, and offer high-quality education programmes to doctors and the public. Cardiologist Dr Tomas Kara is the man behind the project:
"There will be very dramatic changes in the concept of health care and of medicine in the 21st century, mainly because the most advanced medicine will be more and more dependent on new technologies and will really change the concept and our existing view on diagnosis and treatment entirely - not only regarding cardiovascular but also other diseases.
"And that is why my colleagues at the Mayo Clinic and I developed this kind of a new research model that should reflect all of medicine and industry of the 21st century."
The centre will create a platform for an entirely new type of international scientific partnership. Plans are already underway for a number of joint projects with the Mayo Clinic, a prestigious institution referred to there by Dr Kara.
If all goes according to plan - that's if the state approves the proposed budget next month - the first part of the Centre could be opened as early as next year. It would have a professional staff of around 250.
"We have enough talented and highly educated and motivated physicians and specialists from other fields. And generally, Czech physicians and specialists are well known for their skills in innovation and flexibility and those are exactly the skills needed.
"The Centre is to be established in Brno because it has a quite unique infrastructure of academic and industrialised institutions that will provide the substantial background and support for this kind of a project."
The centre is to be established as part of the National Innovation Policy, which has just been approved by the government this month. The aim is to put 1 percent of GDP into research and development, and to simplify the process of acquiring grants for scientific research projects, by 2010.
The cost of setting up the International Clinical Research Centre? Some 1.8 billion Czech crowns (or around 75 million US dollars). After that, the project's initiators hope it will not only be able to sustain itself but actually contribute to the state coffers:
"We hope to develop, together with our scientific and industrial partners, new technologies, drugs, and strategies, part of which are to be patented. This should significantly contribute to raise the future income of our country, which would also benefit in the areas of education, the stimulation of the research process, and other areas."
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