The Biomedicine Research Institute CONICET-Max Planck of Buenos Aires celebrates a decade working towards the development of knowledge, focusing on the advancement of biosciences and the importance of articulation with other nations and scientific and technological organizations.

Ten years ago, the doors of the Biomedicine Research Institute of Buenos Aires building, located in the Scientific and Technological Polo of Buenos Aires City, were opened, initiating a path dedicated to the development of Biosciences, with emphasis on topics in the field of biomedical research.

IBioBA was born in the framework of a fruitful relationship with the Max Planck Society of Germany (MPS), through the signing of an agreement and a statute between the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) and the Max Planck Society, of which it is a Partner Institute. Since its inception, its main purpose has been to contribute to the expansion of the frontiers of knowledge, to contribute to the education and training of scientists of excellence and to strengthen scientific collaboration between Argentina and Germany.

Building facade
Building facade. Credits: Lucas Vallorani (MINCyT).

“It makes me very happy to see how in these ten years we have achieved the reality of IBioBA-CONICET-Max Planck, not only in its internal structure, but also in its national and international recognition. It was not easy to achieve, the expectations on both sides were very high” reflects Eduardo Arzt, founding director of the Institute. “The students who carried out and finished their theses, the researchers selected among the many who applied and who came from other institutes in the country or repatriated from abroad, the dedication of our administrative and technical staff, have been shaping this idea that we had and managed to consolidate, complying with the quality standards of CONICET and the MPS”, he adds.

“Ten years of IBioBA is a reason to celebrate” emphasizes Antonia Marin-Burgin, PhD in Biological Sciences and head of the Neuronal Circuits group. “Personally, I started with an empty space, but with the support and trust of the Institute to fill it with equipment, interesting projects and fellows and researchers eager to do science. These have been years of great growth for my group and also for the Institute in general”, she recalls. 

The Institute is structured around a major objective: to promote interdisciplinary research in molecular and cellular biology, in order to understand the mechanical principles of physiological and pathological processes of certain diseases, seeking to identify new tools for possible treatments.

Arzt also highlights the importance for IBioBA of scientific dissemination and the link with society: “The interaction with schools, the Museums night, the Max Planck open day, the dissemination and activities with business and social chambers and the hundreds of students who have attended our seminars, conferences and courses are also part of our identity”.

Damián Refojo is Head of the Molecular Neurobiology group, he arrived at the Institute in 2014, after ten years of intense work at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich: “The challenge upon returning to Argentina was always marked by the same horizon: that of continuing our work while maintaining the same quality standards and pursuing really relevant and risky questions in the field of Molecular Neuroscience”, he says.

“IBioBA, its philosophy, its structure and its functioning have been perfectly matched with the quality and effort of our students and researchers. I think we can proudly say that those initial dreams have been more than fulfilled and now new goals await us going forward”, says Refojo. 

Some numbers

Currently, 18 researchers are working at the Institute; 7 young scientists are doing their postdoctoral studies, while 33 are doing their doctoral studies; and 7 undergraduate students are doing their pre-professional internships. In addition, the technical team is made up of 15 people, while the administrative team is made up of eight.

Throughout these ten years, other scientists who are currently working in other research areas in the country or abroad, have also worked at the Institute: 42 fellows received their doctoral degrees, 16 young scientists completed their postdoctoral studies, and 44 undergraduate students completed their pre-professional internships before graduating.

During this time, the different teams have published a total of 145 publications and reviews, most of them in prestigious journals of high impact, giving credit to scientific excellence and affirming the Institute’s international presence.

IBioBA focuses its work on three research lines (Neuroscience, Cellular Plasticity and Molecular Targeting), in which 11 teams work. In addition, it has three platforms – scientific service units (Confocal Microscopy, Cytometry and Cell Sorting, and Bioinformatics Platform) and houses the Max Planck Heart and Lung Research Host Laboratory (MP-HL Lab). There are about 60 researchers, together with technical and administrative staff who are committed to the development of cutting-edge science and technology in our country.

It should be noted that in line with the Institute’s gender equality policy, and in order to contribute to narrowing the existing gap within the national Scientific and Technological System, 62.5% of the Institute’s total staff are women and that of the 11 research groups, 5 are led by women scientists.

 

Susana Silberstein holds a PhD in Biological Sciences and is in charge of the research group Molecular Mechanisms Involved in CRH Receptor Signaling at IBioBA. In relation to these years of work, she comments that “looking back and forward, these ten years of IBioBA represent a series of experiences that have profoundly modified us. To the colleagues with whom I participated from the beginning in this undertaking, my thanks for the opportunity of shared effort. Scientifically, it is a reflection of the collaborations that continue to be reflected in the results of experiments and in the training of human resources in an environment of commitment and enthusiasm”.

In this line, interdisciplinary and inter-institutional work are highlighted as two pillars of IBioBA’s work. During these years, the Institute has interacted with clinical institutions such as FLENI, the Durand, Italiano de Buenos Aires, Fernández, Favaloro, Ramos Mejía Hospitals, as well as with the Forensic Medical Corps of the Ministry of Justice; and has carried out important collaborations with the Bionanosciences Research Center (CIBION), also located in the Scientific and Technological Pole, and other national and international scientific institutions.

“The collaborations initiated with other Max Planck Institutes that continue and are being strengthened, as well as those established with other Institutes of the Pole and with researchers from other fields, anticipate that we will continue to grow and contribute to scientific development from each of the research areas developed at the Institute”, concludes Susana.

In addition, the Institute is part of the Biomedicine Network of the FOCEM Project (Fund for the Structural Convergence of Mercosur), whose objectives are to promote the development of specialized human resources and to carry out joint research in areas such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and genetic or oncological diseases such as cancer. 

In this context, in view of the health emergency caused worldwide by the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, IBioBA, through this Fund, is collaborating with the diagnostic, genotyping and platform development initiatives (antibodies and T response) of the Coronavirus Unit of MINCyT-CONICET.

You can find this story published on the website of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET).