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INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research

Transnational Partnership on Functional Metagenomics for Biopharmaceutical Innovation (NORUSCASA)

Alternative title: Transnational Partnership on Functional Metagenomics for Biopharmaceutical Innovation (NORUSCASA)

Awarded: NOK 4.5 mill.

The INTPART project NORUSCASA aims to expand and systematically deepen the collaboration of SINTEF and NTNU with Auburn University and Varigen Biosciences Corp. (USA), as well as the University of Waterloo, Canada, and the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Aim is to establish a world-leading research and education network for accelerated biopharmaceutical innovation by optimizing and applying Functional Metagenomics tools and technology that unlocks the potential of the vast majority of non-cultivable microorganisms in nature. Planned networking activities include frequent student and researcher exchanges between partner groups, a seminar series with invited, renowned lecturers, three thematic workshops at and hosted by the partners in USA, South Africa, and Norway, as well as jointly organizing the conference Functional Metagenomics 2022 (postponed from 2021) in Canada. In the current reporting period, most project activities have still largely been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, since most of them depend on transcontinental travel, which was essentially impossible during the entire past 12 months. This had severe effects on implementing the updated plans after the last reporting and achieving the expected progress in the project. Further planned research staff exchange, arranging the second thematic workshop in South Africa, and planning of the Functional Metagenomics conference in Canada had to be postponed further, beyond summer/fall 2021. Consortium partners have therefore primarily focused on national and remote scientific communication and publishing joint work executed in partners' labs in the field of NORUSCASA without involving staff exchange. With vaccination programmes in partner countries well progressing and travel bans successively being lifted, planning has started for a hopefully more normal year 2022 where planned activities and the exchange-based collaborative work of the project can finally fully resume.

The INTPART project Transnational Partnership on Functional Metagenomics for Biopharmaceutical Innovation (NORUSCASA) aims to expand and systematically deepen the collaboration of SINTEF and NTNU with the two US-American partners Auburn University and Varigen Biosciences Corp., as well as the University of Waterloo, Canada, and the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Main objective is to establish a world-leading research and education network for accelerated biopharmaceutical innovation by optimizing and applying Functional Metagenomics tools and technology that unlocks the potential of the vast majority of non-cultivable microorganisms in nature. The NORUSCASA project is thematically linked to the project INBioPharm of the Centre for Digital Life Norway (DLN), but has impact on a broad portfolio of thematically related projects at SINTEF and NTNU, aiming at understanding microbial biodiversity and exploiting it for new natural products. The NORUSCASA project partners own complementary competences, along with state-of-the-art infrastructure of high relevance for Functional Metagenomics R&D. By combining and mutually expanding these in a coordinated networking effort, will generate a high degree of synergy and creativity that will enable significant progress in the field of new biopharmaceuticals for medical applications from non-cultivable microorganisms. Planned networking activities include frequent student and researcher exchanges between partner groups, a seminar series with invited, renowned lecturers, three thematic workshops, as well as organizing the conference Functional Metagenomics 2022 in year four of the project. NORUSCASA will strengthen ongoing collaboration, integrate and align running research and education efforts at the partner institutions, educate students and young researchers in Functional Metagenomics R&D, and pave the way for new, comprehensive joint research and education activities between the project partners in the future.

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INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research