Viral comments (20): CReSA is an ICTS? And what is an ICTS?

Science can be done with a few resources but good ideas, better questions and a lot of brains. But much of modern science requires big infrastructures … and a lots of brains to use them.

In Spain, Catalonia, although we also have great insfrastructures they lack the prioritization that deserve from the central governments which have never understood that science and research (non-military) are beneficial for society at present and future. In recent decades, Spain and Catalonia have built and have started operating a number of scientific and technical infrastructures and equipments, in order to become leaders in their fields, attract talent and attract business activities in R&D+i.

To streamline and enable synergies and partnerships between these infrastructures a map of Unique Scientific and technical infrastructures (ICTS is its acronym in spanish) has been drawn. The presence of an infrastructure in this list means being an infrastructure of public ownership; to have passed an independent evaluation by international experts; to be unique in its genre, with very high investment costs, maintenance and operation (at least 10 million euros of accumulated investment in technological assets) and to be of open access to researchers from public or private institutions. So not being there does not mean one is not doing good science, but lacks compliance of the above mentioned parameters. The idea of this map is to make it visible to society, to other research centers and companies to enhance their capabilities through better coordination between them, avoid obsolescence, avoid redundancies (if there is one ICTS already active, another equivalent will not be built before the existing one is used to the maximum) and commitment from industry. The current map (2013-2016) was approved in late 2014 and replaces the first map, created in January 2007, it is an open a map, to which new infrastructures can be incorporated if they meet the criteria, but form which other can be removed in case they stop meeting the criteria.

icts EN (1)
ICTS must have a four-year strategic plan that is subject to periodic review, setting objectives, strategies and resources. You must also have established a Scientific Advisory Committee with international experts.

ICTS should have public-access and transparent mechanisms so that all researchers can present proposals for activities that once evaluated, if shown enough scientific and/or technological quality will be approved and its realization prioritized.

ICTS (a total of 59 centers grouped in 29 ICTS) are divided into eight areas: astronomy and astrophysics; marine sciences, life and earth; health sciences and biotechnology; information technology and communications; energy; engineering; materials; and socio-economic sciences and humanities. Those ICTS with a unique location, a unique building, are called Unique location infrastructures; others may be part of an Infrastructures Network (RI) or constituted as a Distributed Infrastructure (ID), depending on the level of integration and coordination of their capabilities.
In Catalonia there are 10 of these ICTS, which would also be ICTS in an independent Catalonia if the same criteria were to be applied, with some additions from the CERCA sphere (one successful Catalan scientific tool without a counterpart in Spain). We are talking, among others of CNAG (National Center for Genome Analysis), the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), ALBA Synchrotron and of course …. the Animal Health Research Center (CReSA).

icts ES (4)

CReSA enters Map ICTS to constitute, together with CISA (Animal Health Research Centre loccated in Valdeolmos, Mardid) a two node network, the laboratories with High Biological Safety network (red Laboratorios de Alta Seguridad Biological RLASB). We are two institutions that are dedicated to research in animal pathogens but also zoonotic pathogens, thus affecting humans, some of them extremely dangerous (avian influenza, hemorrhagic fever virus, West Nile Fever virus, Chikungunya, MERS coronavirus, prions etc. .). The two centers are also part of the Red de Laboratorios de Alerta Biologica (RELAB).

As network and CReSA and CISA will need to build a strategic plan together while maintain autonomy in their activities. This network should allow better access to the capabilities of handling dangerous pathogens, to promote experimental research on vaccines, post-infection therapies and a better understanding of the diseases that will be knocking on our door in the next years.

This being true depends on all of us but mostly on the governing bodies and funders of science … in Spain, and Catalonia.

But this, this is another story.

To know more about this as well as other press here to download the ICTS map.

About the author of this post:

Cap de la Unitat de Biocontenció IRTA-CReSA.