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The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » November 25, 2011
The Polish Science Voice
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University of Warsaw
November 25, 2011   
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The University of Warsaw (UW) prides itself on being Poland’s best and largest university. For many years, it has topped various league tables of Poland’s institutions of higher education. The university has 3,200 teachers and almost 60,000 students enrolled on 37 courses and pursuing more than 100 majors.

Every year the University of Warsaw confers around 300 doctoral degrees, 50 postdoctoral degrees, and 30 professorships. The university is also a leading research center in Poland.

Last year, a total of 2,254 research topics were under way at the University of Warsaw. It is estimated that about 5 percent of all grants intended for research in Poland go to UW scientists.

An important element of research and teaching is the university’s dynamically developing international cooperation and foreign exchange programs for students and academics. In 2010, the university’s students and employees made more than 7,000 trips abroad; at the same time, the University of Warsaw hosted more than 5,000 foreign visitors. The university worked with around 1,200 partner institutions from 52 countries as part of direct cooperation agreements. It signed 20 new agreements with universities, most of them in Asia.

The UW’s faculties and employees are active members of numerous organizations, associations and international networks. In 2010, in recognition of the university’s achievements in carrying out the EU’s Erasmus program, the University of Warsaw was singled out for praise by the European Commission; it was among 20 finalists in the Erasmus Success Story competition.

The University of Warsaw is a partner in the CePT project. The university will develop three large core facilities specialized in physicochemical research into biologically significant systems and materials; production of radiopharmaceuticals for modern medical diagnostics; and large-scale modeling and processing of biomedical data. This will enable other participants in the project as well as interested research centers from across Europe and industrial partners from innovative sectors to use some 30 million euros worth of research facilities.

The University of Warsaw has also contributed to the CePT project its unique expertise in the field of exact and natural sciences—a track record that has won the university a shower of awards and praise at home and abroad.

For example, Prof. Karol Grela from the Faculty of Chemistry has won an award from the Polish Minister of Science and Higher Education for his outstanding achievements in the development of science. Specifically, the award was for developing and introducing a new line of olefin metathesis catalysts, including catalysts for the pharmaceutical industry.

Prof. Piotr Sankowski from the Institute of Informatics has been among the winners of the Starting Independent Researcher Grant competition. The award was from the European Research Council for the Practical Approximation Algorithms research project. Sankowski focuses on approximation algorithms, one of the most dynamically developing disciplines in computer science in the last two decades.

Prof. Zbigniew Maciej Gliwicz from the Faculty of Biology and Prof. Karol Grela from the Faculty of Chemistry have won the Prime Minister’s Prize for outstanding scientific achievements.

A group of students from the Faculty of Biology have claimed the gold medal in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition in the field of synthetic biology. The competition is organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

Participation in the CePT project will enable the university to join the mainstream of research on new drugs and medical technologies, accelerate preclinical and clinical research, and conduct advanced fundamental research in physiology.

An important benefit for the participants of the project is the development of mechanisms to facilitate cooperation with the business environment and establish a Technology Transfer Platform. This will make it possible to more effectively manage research projects by identifying external sources of funding, combined with information and publicity measures and analysis of the effectiveness of technology transfer efforts.

The university will establish three core facilities:
- a Centre for the Physicochemical Research of Biologically Significant Systems and Materials
- a Centre for Large-Scale Modeling and Processing of Biomedical Data
- Laboratory 11 C and 15 O.

The Centre for the Physicochemical Research of Biologically Significant Systems and Materials will make it possible to bring together research groups working on new methods and technologies applicable in diagnosing and preventing lifestyle diseases.
The center will:
- study the role of proteins by synthesizing, crystallizing, folding and solving protein structures and determining their biological role;
- test new, advanced functional materials;
- synthesize and examine biological and medical markers;
- synthesize and examine nanosemiconductor and composite materials;
- synthesize carbon and polymer nanostructures that might be applicable in medical diagnostics and therapy;
- deal with catalytic nanotechnology.

A number of interdisciplinary laboratories will operate at the center, meeting the needs of individual research teams depending on the type of work they perform.

The Centre for Large-Scale Modeling and Processing of Biomedical Data will support all CePT laboratories by providing information and IT infrastructure as well as consulting services. The center’s activities will be based on the cooperation of two complementary laboratories dealing with:
- large-scale computing and processing of biomedical data
- visual modeling and visual presentation of biomedical information.

The lab handling the large-scale computing and processing of biomedical data is tasked with developing a high-end computing environment for biomedicine. Calculations and simulations in this area often require the use of massively parallel systems. This makes it possible to conduct research on a much larger scale, with greater attention to detail and to obtain results faster.

With such computer systems, in addition to the total computing power, it is important to provide a top-quality dedicated communication network. This makes it possible to obtain the extreme scalability of parallel applications. The laboratory will have such a system. In addition, disk storage data and simulation results will be made available to users.

The main objective of the laboratory is to create an advanced computing environment for biomedicine. This will be achieved through:
- the availability of a high-performance massively parallel computing system,
- the availability of a disk storage data system,
- ensuring professional support in the field of computer modeling, with a particular emphasis on biomedical applications, and organization of educational and training activities in the field of software optimization. Professional support will be provided in the creation and optimization of software, along with large-scale computing and system services and technical support in maintaining the operation of systems.

These activities will be based on the researchers’ many years of experience in providing similar services for the scientific community across Poland.

Researchers working in the laboratory for visual modeling and visual presentation of biomedical information are expected to develop new visualization models and processing algorithms. They will also be responsible for the presentation of large-scale data and for implementing and providing CePT users with new tools for the presentation and visual analysis of data. In particular, the lab will focus on:
- research into opportunities offered by the visual analysis of data,
- visual modeling of spatial and dynamic processes,
- development of modular visualization systems,
- implementation of a wide range of tests and training courses related to technology developed at the lab,
- supporting research into numerical methods and algorithms,
- visual analysis and processing of biomedical imaging data,
- techniques for the visual modeling of biomolecular processes,
- visual analysis and visual modeling in biomedical applications,
- optimized implementation of algorithms on specialized computing-graphic station architectures.
The laboratory’s computing and research infrastructure will comprise a cluster of graphic stations with asymmetric architecture and a cluster of visualization-computing graphic stations.

Laboratory 11 C and 15 O aims to deal with research, development and interdisciplinary applications of particle acceleration techniques and with the production and testing of PET radiopharmaceuticals and imaging methods, using existing staff, premises and some existing equipment. The main task of the lab is to expand the synthesis of radiopharmaceuticals based on 11C and 15O nuclide marking. This will make it possible to conduct interdisciplinary research in oncology, neurology and cardiology.
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