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TranStem project is funded by the European Union under Grant Agreement number: 856871 — TRANSTEM — H2020-WIDESPREAD-2018-2020/H2020-WIDESPREAD-2018-04

The project started on October 1 2019 and is scheduled to continue 60 months.


The goal of TRANSTEM is to unlock, foster and sustain excellent basic and applied stem cell research as well as clinical application in MUV through the recruitment of an ERA Chair in stem cell biology. This goal will be strategically achieved by setting up a strong research group in the field, establishing a translational Department for Stem Cell Biology in MUV and placing MUV at the forefront of Research, Development and Innovation in stem cell and regenerative medicine research and therapies. TRANSTEM will specifically:

- Enhance research organization and management in MUV by establishing a new and fully functional Stem Cell Biology Department and hiring an outstanding stem cell biology researcher and manager who will guide the transformation process and SCBD development.

- Strengthen the scientific excellence in MUV in the field of translational stem cell biology via continuous

development and regular evaluation of the new Stem Cell Biology Department, human resource capacity upgrade, trainings in research, bilateral exchanges with foreign research centers of excellence in stem cell biology, and study visits in bio banks abroad.

- Increase the transfer of innovation potential of MUV and enable the translation of discoveries into new therapies and medical products which improve public's health and generate new economic opportunities through the setting up of a knowledge transfer office, upgrading IPR strategy

- and fostering project and collaborations with biotech, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.

- Enable regional socio-political development in the field of stem cell biology by generating regional support through open multi-stakeholder dialogue with social and political stakeholders, tackling policy bottlenecks and road mapping reforms in the Bulgarian research and innovation landscape.

- Leverage existing and establish new collaborations to extend application and participation both in national operational programmes and international EU funded calls thus enabling major scientific advancements in the use of stem cells for public health.

- Ensure widespread and effective communication and dissemination which raise awareness, foster interactions and maximise TRANSTEM's impact at the regional, national and international levels.


Work Plan:

Work Package 1

WP1 will concern the hiring of an ERA Chair Holder under the title of Head of Stem Cell

Biology Department within the newly formed department of Stem Cell Biology (SCBD) under RI-MUV.

The new appointee will be highly qualified in the field of stem cell biology, with proven managerial skills, leadership experience and track record.

Work Package 2

WP2 will focus on the ERA Chair team recruitment, including deciding on the composition of the team, designing the recruitment procedure, final selection and hiring. The WP will also include an onboarding plan as well as the scientific, HR, financial and administrative, dissemination organisation of the newly hired (and existing) employees of MUV into the new stem cell biology department under RI-MUV.

Work Package 3

WP3 will concern the implementation of structural changes in MUV in compliance with ERA priorities and

reinforcement of team capacities to successfully participate in the ERA. SCBD's strategy, scientific agenda and action plan will be fully developed, the work of SCBD will be regularly monitored.

Work Package 4

The WP's objective is to strengthen the scientific excellence in SCBD and MUV in the field of translational

stem cell biology. This will be achieved by: 1.Unilateral and bilateral exchanges with foreign research centers of excellence; 2.Regular trainings sessions for MUV researchers, postdoctoral researcher and PhD students; 3. Conferences, congresses, symposiums and trainings for the ERA chair team and RI-MUV staff in the field of stem cell biology, IPR and innovation and project setting up and management.

Work Package 5

The work package aims to encourage the regional growth, expansion and long-term development of novel stem cell biology research and therapies by engaging with doctoral students, non-MUV medical professionals, doctor and patient organisations and policy bodies. More specifically, the tasks include:

1. Attracting and training doctoral students in areas involving work on stem cell biology, 2. Training of other hospital medical staff in the area thus enabling the spread of the practice into other university and non-university hospitals at regional scale, 3. Doctor and patient organization collaboration, 4. Tackling policy bottlenecks and thus encouraging more widespread regional and political development in the area of stem cell biology, 5. Dialogue with policy makers to roadmap reforms in BG R&I system.

Work Package 6

The 6th WP aims to reinforce transfer of innovation and long-term collaborations through knowledge transfer activities with the healthcare industry, networking with key projects and organisations as well as initiating common national (incl. Structural funds) and international collaborative projects. WP leader: ERA Chair.

Work Package 7

The 7th WP will focus on implementing an effective strategy of communication and dissemination to highlight MUV's R&I potential and achievements and to maximize its impact at the regional, national and international levels. The main aims are to: 1.Raise public and scientific awareness of the project; 2.Facilitate the interaction with scientific and non-scientific audiences, including the healthcare industry; 3.Ensure the proper dissemination and exploitation of the achievements of the project in the most efficient way. WP Leader: Ms Elitsa Drenska.

Work Package 8

WP8 aims at coordinating and validating the project development and results and ensuring that EC financial and administrative procedures are respected. The detailed objectives of the work package are to: 1. Ensure the optimal coordination of scientific, human and financial resources; 2. Optimize and ensure the integration between WP research activities; 3. Ensure the appropriate functioning and efficiency of the coordination, advisory and mentoring boards; 4. Ensure the timely and appropriate reporting to the EC. WP Leader: Prof. Igor Resnick.

Work Package 9

This work package sets out the 'ethics requirements' that the project must comply with.


Scientific publications:



“Capital”, a leading online journal for economic news and analyses inBulgaria, published an interview with Manlio Vinciguerra, PhD - Chair of theEuropean research area (ERA chair) at the Medical University of Varna in thefield of translational biology of stem cells

The First of Its Kind Workshop on Bioinformatics Entitled Introductory Computational Biology Course Was Held at MU – Varna

MU – Varna Organised the First in Bulgaria Scientific Symposium on ‘Epigenetics and Signalling in Stem Cells’

MU – Varna Organises the First in Bulgaria Scientific Symposium on Epigenetics and Stem Cell Signalling

Newly elected ERA Chair in Translational Stem Cell Biology at the Medical University of Varna

Kick-off meeting with the Management board of the TranStem project will be held on October 17th 2019.

On 23.10 a press conference was held on the launch of the project TranStem. To the gallery




Dr. Manlio Vinciguerra – ERA Chair

Prof. Igor Resnick – Project Coordinator

Prof. Anton Tonchev – WP Leader

Prof. Todorka Kostadinova – WP Leader

Alexander Donchev – Project Manager

Miroslava Nikolova – Assistant Project Manager

Krasimira Atanasova – Financial Officer

Ralitsa Charakchieva – Legal Officer

Tatiana Stancheva – HR Officer


Management Board:

Prof. Igor Resnick – Department of Medical Genetics

Prof. Anton Tonchev – Director of the Research Institute at MU-Varna (RIMU-Varna)

Prof. Silva Andonova – Director of St. Marina hospital

Prof. Christina Grupcheva – Vice Rector "Science and Research"

Prof. Temenuga Stoeva – Head of "Implantology and Genetics" Direction, RIMU-Varna

Prof. Yavor Enchev – Director of Department of Neuroscience, RIMU-Varna

Assoc. Prof. Nikolay Tsonev – Director of Department of Oncology, RIMU-Varna


Advisory Board:

Prof. Tsvee Lapidot – Director of the Weizmanns Stem Cell Institute, Rehovot, Israel;

Prof. Prof. Jean-Laurent Casanova - Head of the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases, Rockefeller University Hospital, New York, USA;

Prof. Panagiotis Tsirigotis - Head of BMT Program, ATTIKON University Hospital - National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece;

Prof. Gregor Eichele – Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany;

Prof. Anastassia Stoykova – Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany;

Prof. Wieland Huttner - Director, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany