Palacký University

Research

The Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry is a leading biomedical research institution, with a long tradition and at the same time the ambition to become a major centre of innovation and excellence—not only among medical faculties in the Czech Republic, but also in the greater Central European region.

Research at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry is based on three foundations: the research project BIOMEDREG (Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine), pre-clinical research (scientific teams at Theoretical Institutes) and clinical research. These components are not isolated, but are intertwined and cooperate with each other. One of the fundamental advantages for research at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry is its geographical proximity to, and the personnel connected with, the Olomouc University Teaching Hospital, with the possibility of joint projects and sharing of technology. Many teams cooperate very closely with the departments of the Faculty of Science. Also promising is the developing cooperation with leading scientific institutions of the Czech Republic, in particular the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, as well as major institutions abroad. The Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry devotes a great deal of attention to educating its students, both undergraduate and postgraduate. The new building of the Theoretical Institutes provides major improvements and an increase in the infrastructure to 23 accredited doctoral programmes.

The Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry is currently conducting nearly 60 major national grant projects and participating in another 25 projects. The faculty has successfully completed two long-term priority projects of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic and conducted one project with the Faculty of Science. Each year, authors from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry are involved in more than one hundred high-quality scientific publications, published in prestigious international impact journals; another 150 articles are published in peer-reviewed journals.

An important event in the scientific life of the faculty was the inclusion of its journal Biomedical Papers into the worldwide Thomson Reuters database of impact journals in 2011. This step allowed the journal to be introduced into the wider world-class context of biomedical journals.

Research activities of the faculty departments

Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine

The recently established Institute, a modern research institution for drug and biomarker discovery, research and de­velopment, is one of the most influential research projects carried out in the Czech Republic. The IMTM's mission is basic and translational biomedical research with the goal to understand the underlying causes of cancer and infectious diseases and to develop future human medicines and diagnostics. For more visit the Institute web: www.imtm.cz.

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Department of Microbiology

One of the leading research centres in the Czech Republic solving the problem of bacterial resistance to antimicrobial agents. Another area of research is the issue of nosocomial infections, defining the sources and ways of transmission using molecular biology methods and prevention of the spread of multi-resistant bacteria. The department also focuses on the molecular identification and typing of medically important microorganisms, especially using the McRAPD technology, developed primarily at the workplace. The department participates in the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network and cooperates with mycology research centres in Japan (Chiba University and Teikyo University), the Institut für Mikrobiologie und Infektionsepidemiologie, Universitätsklinikum Leipzig, Germany, and the School of Immunity and Infection, University of Birmingham, UK.

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Department of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry

The department has long studied the chemical and biological properties of natural substances. The subject of study are colchicinoids, alkaloids of the autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale). The study of the effects of substances contained in extracts of milk thistle (Silybum marianum), self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolius) and maca (Lepidium meyenii), berries of the American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), the common bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and blueberry honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea) has had practical results in the form of dietary supplements. Applications of sanguinarine and chelerythrine in oral hygiene and feed additives have also been successful. The department cooperates in the field of natural substances research with the team of Prof. Zeng of the Hunan Agricultural University in Changsha, China.

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Department of Medical Biophysics

The department studies the photodynamically active substances which may be used for the treatment of tumours. The effects of electromagnetic radiation and ultrasound in combination with biologically active substances are also studied. Furthermore, the department is involved in the study of the antimicrobial activity and toxicity of silver nanoparticles and nanocomposites. Development of methods for the assessment of the quality of ultrasound imaging is done in collaboration with the ultrasound laboratory in the Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Physics at the University of Vienna and the ultrasound laboratory of the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, UK.

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Department of Biology

The department is a respected scientific institution in the field of experimental haematology. The achievements in basic research, published in prestigious journals such as Blood, Stem Cells, Cancer Cell, Leukemia, etc., have helped shed light on particular aspects of the pathogenesis of disorders of red blood cells, stem cell properties, the development of leukaemia and inducing cell death of leukaemic cells. Clinically oriented project components are contributing to the diagnosis and prognosis of the studied diseases (polycythaemia, anaemia, impaired iron metabolism, haemoglobinopathy, enzymopathy) and predicting treatment response and the search for the causes of drug resistance of tumour cells (chronic myelogenous leukaemia). Personnel at the Department of Biology cooperate with experts from research centres in Europe (Heidelberg, Germany—Prof. A. Krämer, Copenhagen, Denmark—Prof. J. Bartek, Erlangen, Germany—Prof. R. Slany), in the USA (Houston—Prof. H. Kantarjian, Salt Lake City—Prof. J. T. Prchal) and in Canada (Montreal—Prof. P. Ponka).

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Department of Clinical and Molecular Pathology

The department takes part in research projects dealing with various aspects of oncogenesis, development of new methods used to specify and improve the diagnosis of tumours and the identification of new biomarkers determining the most appropriate methods of treatment. The department cooperates with leading foreign institutions, namely in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria and Italy, and also with the Institute of Biophysics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute in Brno, the Laboratory of Growth Regulators at the Palacký University Faculty of Science, and the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Research is, among other things, focused on the development of hormone insensitivity in initially hormone-sensitive breast and prostate carcinomas, on the study of new compounds capable of modulating the biological potential of tumours, on the study of factors influencing the development of oesophageal adenocarcinomas and on the study of the diagnostic significance of microRNA in tumours in various locations.

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Department of Pharmacology

The department focuses on experimental and clinical research of natural substances with cytoprotective and hypolipidemic effects, with the prospect of developing potential drugs, and on drug-metabolising enzymes (cytochrome P450), interspecies differences in metabolism and drug interactions. Optimisation of drug therapy is investigated using pharmacoepidemiological and pharmacoeconomic methods. The department participated in the project Nanoparticulate and Supramolecular Systems for Targeted Drug Delivery, awarded the 2011 Prize of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. The Department of Pharmacology cooperates with the INSERM Unité 710 in Montpellier, France and has formed a partnership with the Institut für Klinische Farmakologie in Stuttgart, Germany (Prof. U. M. Zanger).

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Department of Immunology

The department focuses on research in the area of experimental immunisation using recombinant protein vaccines and DNA vaccines. The department closely cooperates with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA, in a current joint project called The Study of Interactions Among IgA1-Glycosylating Enzymes in IgA Nephropathy. The Laboratory of Immunogenomics and Immunoproteomics studies genes participating in reactions in organ transplants and in the pathogenesis of various diseases with a high proportion of immune reactions. There is strong development of research cooperation between this laboratory, the Department of Respiratory Medicine and the Faculty of Medicine of University of Freiburg, Germany. Cooperation also takes place on research into the genetic background of pulmonary sarcoidosis within the European project GenPhenReSA.

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Department of Preventive Medicine

As part of its grant projects, the department focuses on identification of lifestyle-related health risks and determining preventable risk factors. The department seeks procedures that allow for the fastest possible identification of the early stages of illnesses and life-threatening conditions. The projects are focused on tumours, metabolic diseases and nosocomial infections. The department cooperates with the IARC in Lyon, France in the area of epidemiology and genetics of lung, kidney, pancreatic and oesophageal cancers. Its research results are regularly published in the most prestigious world journals, such as Nature, Nature Genetics and The Lancet.

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Department of Pediatrics

In its research and scientific efforts, the department focuses on the areas of haematology, oncohaematology, endocrinology and pulmonology and allergology. In the area of haematology, research focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of Diamond-Blackfan anaemia. The oncohaematology programme, involving the workers of the Department of Hemato-Oncology, has been long concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of acute leukaemia and the pharmacokinetics of cytostatic therapy. The department, in collaboration with Harvard University and the Palacký University Faculty of Science, studies the pharmacokinetics of immunosuppressive drugs. In the area of endocrinology, research focuses on growth disorders as well as prevention of gonadal tumours in girls with Turner syndrome. It has received an international grant in the area of pulmonology that deals with sphingolipid metabolism in children with cystic fibrosis. Experimental studies of allergic asthma and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in animal models are also carried out.

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Department of Hemato-Oncology

The department is one of the leading Czech centres of research dealing with molecular biology, cytogenetics and molecular genetics, diagnosis and treatment of haematopoietic malignancies and blood clotting disorders. In 2005-2011, the department initiated and successfully completed an extensive 7-year project called Studies of Genes and Molecular Mechanisms Involved in Regulation of Hematopoiesis, Their Clinical Impact and Targeted Treatment, together with several departments of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. The department is a leading centre of excellence in the European LeukemiaNet – WP4 CML and an ELN reference laboratory for quantitative determination of BCR-ABL transcript in CML. The cytogenetic laboratory is involved in long-term cooperation with Prof. I. Wlodarska, head of the Center for Human Genetics, Leuven, Belgium, working on projects on genetic changes in lymphoproliferative disorders. The CML group cooperates with Prof. K. Porkka from Helsinki University Central Hospital. The department maintains close scientific connections with Prof. J. T. Prchal, a world-class scientist and a professor of internal medicine (haematology), genetics and pathology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, USA.

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Department of Internal Medicine III—Nephrology, Rheumatology and Endocrinology

The department is engaged in intensive research of systemic lupus erythematosus and cardiovascular and renal manifestations of this disease, glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis and residual activity of rheumatoid arthritis. In the field of nephrology, the department focuses on individual availability of immunosuppressive drugs and the study of single nucleotide polymorphisms of immunosuppressant transport mechanisms. There is also research focused on treatment of IgA nephropathy and diabetic kidney disease. In endocrinology, the department is involved in long-term cooperation with Prof. K. Pacák of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

The department is focused on research of intraoperative stress and tissue trauma associated with the introduction of minimally invasive therapeutic procedures, including robotic surgery. In addition, the department focuses on long-term research of prognostic markers in gynaecological cancer and the benefits of chemoresistance in their treatment as well as the area of blood clotting disorders in at-risk and pathological pregnancies. The department closely cooperates with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Lund University, Sweden, in the area of at-risk pregnancies and foetal growth retardation.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine

The department is engaged in research into the importance of PET/CT applications in the diagnosis and therapy of malignancies and assessment of the diagnostic benefit of standard nuclear medicine procedures in patients with cancers, cardiovascular, endocrine and renal and urinary diseases. Current research activities focus on detection of sentinel lymph nodes in patients with breast and oesophageal carcinomas and with head and neck tumours. An important area of focus is also the research of myocardial viability and assessment of the influence of the extent of irreversible myocardial damage on left ventricular function.

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Department of Neurology

The department is engaged in several research programmes focused on the physiology and pathophysiology of the nervous system. In the field of extrapyramidal neurology, there is research in progress on the clinical-pathological correlation of atypical parkinsonian syndromes, biological correlates of neurodegenerative diseases, pathophysiology of dystonia and spasticity and non-motor and behavioural manifestations of Parkinson’s disease. There is also research on the influence of modern diagnostic methods and therapy on the survival of brain tissue after stroke. The Functional Magnetic Resonance Laboratory is investigating the influence of chemodenervation treatment of dystonia and spasticity on cerebral cortex plasticity.

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Last update: 17. 01. 2014, Daniel Agnew