Select language: Hrvatski English

Center of Excellence Partner Institutions

Activites of the Scientific Center for Excellence in Viral Immunology and Development of New Vaccines will be conducted by distinguished scientists working in three internationally recognized institutions in the Republic of Croatia: Faculty of Medicine, University of Rijeka (MEDRI), Center for Research and Knowledgde Transfer in Biotechnology, University of Zagreb (UNIZG Biotech) and University Hosiptal for Infectious Diseases “Dr. Fran Mihaljević” (UHID).


MEDRI - vectorlogo - engThe Faculty of Medicine (MEDRI) is the largest faculty within the University of Rijeka. It has 42 departments and the Center for Proteomics, comprising 400 researchers and 170 technical and administrative staff. MEDRI has obtained external funding from national and international sources, including projects funded under the FP7 programme of the European Commission the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Internationally, MEDRI is recognized as one of the leading scientific institutions in Croatia.

Within the faculty there is also a state of the art Laboratory of Mouse Engineering and Breeding Facility (LAMRI) with SPF conditions, which can accommodate more than 40.000 mice. Department of Histology and Embryology and the Center for Proteomics comprise around 1.000 m2 of core facilities and provide outstanding conditions for research of the highest quality. This includes but it is not limited to cell culture laboratories, molecular biology laboratories, a histopathology laboratory, a laboratory for protein production and purification, a laboratory for large-scale production of monoclonal antibodies, an immunofluorescence and confocal facility, a flow cytometry and cell sorting facility, bioluminescence and fluorescence small animal imaging system, a high capacity liquid nitrogen storage facility and an experimental animal facility equipped with IVC systems. The major task of the Center for Proteomics is the generation of new tools for research in immunology and virology. The Center for Proteomics is also involved in the development of new immunotherapeutic approaches to treat viral infections based on fusion proteins consisting of recombinant mAbs and soluble ligands for different lymphocytes’ receptors.

In addition to the coordinator of the Center of Excellence (prof. Stipan Jonjić), several other scientists affiliated to MEDRI will be involved in this project: Astrid Krmpotić, full professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Scholar (2006-2010), with expertise in the characterization of viral immunosubversion of NK cell response; Bojan Polić, full professor, Head of the Laboratory for Mouse Engineering and Breeding Facility (LAMRI) at MEDRI, with extensive experience in mouse engineering; Tihana Lenac Roviš, assistant professor and leader of the confocal core facility. She has extensive experience in confocal microscopy and protein chemistry; Igor Jurak, assistant professor at the Department for Biotechnology University of Rijeka, recently recruited from the Harvard Medical School; his major expertise is in the field of molecular virology; Marina Šantić, associate professor at the Department of Microbiology; her expertise is in the pathogenesis of intracellular bacteria. In addition, 15 PhD students and post-docs will be actively involved in the research proposed in frame of this Center of Excellence.


CIPZUB_logo_engCentre for Research and Knowledge Transfer in Biotechnology of the University of Zagreb (UNIZG Biotech), was established in 2013 as a direct successor of the Research and Development Department of the Institute of Immunology Inc., the Croatian company with 120 years long tradition in producing immunobiologicals, among which viral human vaccines are best known. The research team has been internationally recognized in the field of genotyping of RNA viruses, particularly mumps and measles strains (Šantak et al., Epidemiol Infect, 2013; Košutić-Gulija et al., Virol J, 2008; Ivančić et al., Virus Res, 2005,; Baričević et al., Vaccine, 2005) and acts as a partner of World Health Organization (WHO.WER 2012;87:217), as well as Croatian National Public Health Institute and Clinic for Infective Diseases in Zagreb. In addition, the expertise of its scientists includes optimization of biotechnology processes (Markušić et al., Appl Microbiol Biotechnol, 2013) and bioassays (Kutle et al., Vaccine, 2010; Forčić et al., Vaccine, 2010; Košutić Gulija et al., Electrophoresis, 2011), as well as downstream processing of biological macromolecules (Forčić et al., J. Chromatogr B, 2011; Forčić et al., Anal Biochem, 2005; Branović et al., J. Chromatogr B, 2004) and their translation into production.

UNIZG Biotech comprises an area of 420 m2, which is divided into the open lab bench space rooms and three tissue culture rooms. They are equipped with all standard instruments for modern virology, molecular biology, biochemistry and immunology research including an ultracentrifuge, conventional and real-time PCR thermocyclers, an automated capillary sequencer, HPLC system and two flow cytometers, spectrophotometers and systems for isoelectric protein focusing (IEF) and two-dimensional (2d) SDS-PAGE. There are seven laminar flow hoods for sterile work and available cold chamber (+4 C). Also, the team members are skilled at working in good laboratory practice environment, enabling fast progress from basic research invention to application.

UNIZG Biotech works as a contract partner of the Institute of Immunology, Inc. (IMZ), the Croatian vaccine producing company. The new mumps vaccine strain is of uttermost importance, since it would enable IMZ to become a worldly renowned vaccine producer.


FranMihaljevic-logo-engThe University Hospital for Infectious Diseases (UHID), Zagreb, Croatia is a unique institution in which concomitant activities are carried out, including treatment of patients with infectious diseases; performance of laboratory diagnostics; clinical and basic research and education and training of students. UHID is also the Croatian Referral Center for Diagnostics and Treatment of Infectious Diseases and several other Croatian Referral Centers are incorporated into UHID. At UHID, a modern new facility (Central Diagnostic Laboratory – CDL – 3700 m2) has recently been constructed and equipped for Clinical Laboratory Diagnostics and Research. The CDL Facility includes also a new Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) Laboratory with a cell culture unit. In the proposed Center of Excellence project, four scientists will be involved from UHID (also see CVs of team members): Alemka Markotić, full professor, Head of the Department for research, expert in innate immune response research to hantaviruses; Oktavija Đaković Rode, PhD, Head, Department for Virology, with expertise in viral diagnostic techniques; Adriana Vince, full professor, UHID director and the Head of the Clinical Department for Viral Hepatitis and Snježana Židovec Lepej, PhD, Head of the Department for Molecular Diagnostics and Flow Cytometry.

UHID made the first molecular characterization of hantaviruses circulating in Croatia (J Med Virol 2002; 66:542-551); the first analysis of cellular immunoreactions to virus Dobrava in peripheral circulation in humans (Clin Exp Immunol. 1999;115:329-34.); the first evidence that hantaviruses are cytolitic viruses which cause cytopathic effect induced by apoptosis in HEK293 cells (J Gen Virol 2003; 84:2197-2202); the first evidence that chemokine production predominates in human monocytes infected with apathogenic hantaviruses (Viral Immunology 2007;20: 206-13); the first report of RNA sequencing of 5′ capped (Pol II) RNAs that provides a general approach to identifying genes that participate in viral-host interactions (Viruses. 2012;4:581-612.); CXCL10 as biomarker of sustained virological response in patients with chronic HCV (J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2012;32:386-91.); evidence that IL-1β production through the NLRP3 inflammasome by hepatic macrophages links hepatitis C virus infection with liver inflammation (PLoS Pathog. 2013; 9:e1003330).