The Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA) is the most recent addition to the Life Sciences Research organizations in Greece, which began its activities in 2004. It is located at a distance of 3 km from downtown Athens and is housed in a modern 32,000 m2 building. The founding principle of BRFAA is to host both basic and clinical research, thus, providing an ideal setting for the emergence of translational activities (Medical Application). BRFAA is one of the few institutes with such character in Europe and is certainly unique for Greece. The main goal of BRFAA is to achieve excellence in the Biomedical Sciences by recruiting high-quality investigators carrying out cutting-edge basic and translational research and by training young researchers in state-of-the-art facilities, which provide a particularly stimulating scientific environment and strong research infrastructures. At present, BRFAA consists of 4 Research Centers (Institutes) specialized in different aspects of Biomedical Research focusing on the following research areas: gene regulation, stem cells, neurobiology, developmental biology, aging, cancer, inflammation, stress, and metabolic syndromes, cardiovascular pathophysiology and environmental health issues. These research activities are being pursued in the context of the following Centers: (1) Center of Basic Research, (2) Center of Clinical and Translational Research, and Experimental Surgery (3) Center of Systems Biology and (4) Center of Environmental Health. Research is performed by more than 50 research groups. Overall, more than 450 researchers including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and technicians are pursuing their research activities at BRFAA and are supported by 52 administrators, financial officers and facilities maintenance personnel. BRFAA regularly hosts foreign researchers from across Europe and North America (both US and Canadian scientists). It is along these lines that the personnel involved in Experimental Surgery regularly offer training courses in large animal surgery that serve a number of European Universities, Hospitals, and Research Institutions. BRFAA research activities are supported by an impressive infrastructure of state-of-the-art core facilities, in addition to basic molecular biology equipment. All necessary heavy equipment to perform cutting-edge biomedical research are in place. Specifically, 22 modern molecular biology laboratories are supported by facilities for genomics, proteomics, flow cytometry, cell sorting, laser capture microdissection, pharmacotechnology, advanced imaging (confocal and deconvolution microscopy, micro-PET/CT animal imaging, etc), transgenic and gene targeting animal facilities, histology suite, and Bioinformatics services. Core facilities are run by experts in their fields and are supported by annual budgets for personnel and reagents provided by the Foundation and research grants. A state-of-the-art animal facility with individually ventilated cages that can house 20,000 mice as well as other animal species is in full operation. The Experimental Surgery unit is a state-of-the-art facility supporting any type of surgery and follow-up procedures. Veterinary supervision is available on a daily basis, and accreditation has already been obtained by the responsible European and National Committees. The Clinical Research infrastructure includes a 6-bed day clinic specialized in cardiovascular, metabolic, hematological and malignant diseases and is supported by the necessary medical personnel and infrastructure including a Positron Emission Tomography unit (PET-CT), echocardiography unit, cardiopulmonary exercise stress unit, etc. It is notable that the Cord Blood Bank, which operates under the auspices of BRFAA, has made various contributions of stem cells, including several to the Children’s University Hospital that was used successfully in transplantations for the treatment of cases of hematological malignancy cases.
Olga Tzortzatou – Nanopoulou
Olga Tzortzatou is a lawyer at the Supreme Court. Her academic research focuses on the legal and ethical implications related to biomedical research. She has been a visiting lecturer in the Medical and Biology Schools of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Democritus University of Thrace, the University of Nicosia and Panteion University since 2015. She has participated in numerous EU funded projects as a legal & ethics scientific advisor (e.g B3Africa, SiENNA, ToAition, MiniNo, B1MG, EATRIS, STRATEGY-CKD, SYSCID etc.). She is currently an active member of Scientific Boards and ELSI working groups in European Infrastructures/Initiatives (BBMRI-ERIC ELSI, 1& Million Genomes Project etc.) and PI to EU and nationally funded projects (eg. B1MG, SciBioEU etc.). Since 2007 she holds a position as a lawyer at the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA), where her work consists in contractual negotiation for safeguarding intellectual property and ensuring regulatory compliance (i.a. GDPR). She is the Head of the Intellectual Property Committee of BRFAA and a Member of the Bioethics Committee. She is also an external ethics expert at the European Commission DG Research & Innovation, and has served as a Member of several Bioethics Committees in Greek Institutions and Academia.
Dorezi Zenejra is a Molecular Biologist & Geneticist graduated from the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics at the Democritus University of Thrace and is currently working at the Technology Transfer Office of BRFAA in the framework of the Operational Programme “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation”, Axis A: “Maturation of the Technology Transfer Ecosystem in Greece”.Before that she worked as a Molecular Biologist at the Department of Molecular Biology Genetics of the ‘Medical Diagnostics Group’. She is also doing her Master’s Degree at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens in Biomedical Sciences where her research work is focused on regenerative medicine and exosomes.