Organisation and Management
The formal organization of the center is outlined below.
The Center leader and responsible for daily and long-term management is Professor Anders Krogh (Dept. of Biology, KU). Anders Krogh will have the final decision competence for the Center. All matters that are of importance for the Center will be discussed in the steering committee (SC), which will include a representative from each partner and will meet every half year. International partners will participate through videoconferencing whenever possible and will be contacted directly by the center leader in the case of important matters. The SC will have no decision competence as such, but can make suggestions to the Center leader.
To guide the Center and ensure international excellence of the research, we will appoint a scientific advisory board (SAB) containing three leading international scientists from the relevant fields. The board will review the research in the Center during the second and final year of funding. The SAB’s reviews will take place at workshops organized by COAT in Copenhagen (see below).
The work packages each have a coordinator (first name listed under each WP in figure 4), who is responsible for detailed planning of individual activities in the work packages. The coordinators can make minor changes to the activities and budget related to their own work package in the case of unforeseen circumstances, but major changes have to be cleared by the SC. For each meeting in the SC, the coordinators will prepare a written report detailing the progress of the work packages in relation to the project plan. In addition, Anders Krogh will be monitoring the different WPs carefully and consistently. Anders Krogh will together with the partners in each WP set up a number of WP specific milestones/indicators that relate directly to the objectives of the different WPs. The indicators will be chosen so that they correspond to specific results that are easy to evaluate. An academic assistant will be employed to assist Anders Krogh in the daily management of the Center (including workshop arrangement, budget monitoring, hiring, travel arrangement etc.) and relieve Anders Krogh of other administrative tasks to ensure that he has the necessary time for project management and heading the scientific effort. Additionally, Jeppe Vinther, who will be employed as associate professor 100% on the project and associate professor Jan Christiansen will assist especially in contact to partners, workshop arrangements (contact to speakers etc.), and other tasks where scientific knowledge is required.
The core of COAT will be located at Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, which will be involved in most activities of the Center. The establishment of a strategic research center will ensure that a strong research environment is developed here in Denmark and that this environment will reach the critical mass required and the necessary flexibility to reach the important strategic aims outlined elsewhere in this application. Moreover, we envision that the Center will attract funding from other sources. COAT is well integrated into the overall strategy of the Department of Biology and the Department will support COAT by co financing of 5 PhDs, providing administrative support and by supporting all efforts to continue COAT activities after DSF funding runs out. The work packages 1, 4 and 5 aim at solving scientific questions with an immediate relevance for RNA drug design. These projects are all collaborations between Santaris Pharma and academic partners that have competencies, which will be required for solving these questions. This combination of Santaris’ know-how and research in RNA drug design and the collaboration with world class academic labs, which can provide the skills and know-how that Santaris need, is very strong and have a high potential for creating synergies and leading to results of commercial value that could be applied to facilitate RNA drug design on a relative short time horizon. Examples of this are the mapping of off targets for RNA drug candidates in Santaris’ pipeline and the creation of tools that will make it possible to predict RNA drugs with high tolerability. Surrounding the work packages with direct applications in RNA drug design is a number of projects (WP2, WP3 and WP6), which will support the activities in WP1, WP4 and WP5 and will be of very high interest for basic science. It is very likely that many of the result obtained in these studies will be important for applied research on a 5-10 year time scale. One example is the development of general maps of RNA structure and Protein-RNA interactions on a transcriptome wide scale, which will be an important step forward in the annotation of the human genome and will make it possible to reach new levels of understanding of the posttranscriptional regulation of human cells. The availability of such data will facilitate the identification of new drug targets among both protein coding and non coding RNAs. The center will prioritize teaching and training of staff and students. The Department of Biology is responsible for the teaching of students in Biochemistry, Biology, Bioinformatics and Molecular Biomedicine and therefore produces a large fraction of the Danish output of MSc that are relevant for the RNA drug industry. COAT will participate in new courses and/or modify existing courses, which will give students a thorough introduction to RNA biology, Computational biology and the potential of RNA drugs.
The individual workpackages are described in detail here.