Objective: 

Creation of a “Scientific network of excellence” in the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region among universities, public research bodies and international research bodies to reinforce the capacity for action, attractiveness and competitiveness at a national and international level of the institutions

Activities: 

The creation and enhancement of integrated research infrastructures, to reinforce the capacity for action of scientific institutions and to optimise the use of the infrastructures themselves, making them available also to private companies, and the creation of shared services for research or the coordination of existing services

Actions: 

Area Science Park aims to generate research, development and innovation projects capable of increasing the networking and coordination among regional and national scientific entities, specifically by providing equipped spaces and laboratories, geared with latest-generation equipment, at the service of applied and industrial research by third parties, both public and private (Technology Platforms). 
In particular, the Genomics and Epigenomics Platform aims to to systematise, integrate and optimise the resources, knowledge and experience existing in the regional territory within a single facility, to start a Center of excellence of national significance in the field of genomics and epigenomics as well as promote synergies between regional, national and international players in the sector.
Initially created by integrating the already existing instruments, the Platform was enhanced by Area Science Park with the procurement and installation of a sequencer which represents the top processivity instrument among new generation sequencers (NovaSeq 6000), suitable for providing sequencing services through Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques to a large and varied community of researchers and users.
The NGS instruments are additionally supported by a powerful IT infrastructure capable of processing the data from the sequencers, allowing for the operation and scalability of the Platform with a suitable size in terms of computing capacity and storage space.

The Platform aims to become a reference centre which researchers and companies can use for sequencing analysis, in order to develop:
•    Genetic tests. Using new-generation sequencing platforms, it is now possible to analyse the entire genetic code of individual genomes and contribute to the growth of the knowledge of human diseases and give a strong boost to the development of new generation diagnostic, prognostic and predictive tools.
•    Study of microorganisms to investigate the ways in which they influence human diseases. 
•    Analysis of plants and animals. Understanding the structure, function and genetic diversity of the genomes of cultivated plants or farm animals can in fact result in the optimisation of their selection efficiency and the productivity, quality and safety of related products. 
•    Analysis of the traceability of the agri-food chain and environmental monitoring. In the DNA extracted from food and environmental samples of various origins (for example, soil, waste water and sea) it is possible to detect any contamination in raw materials, food and environmental matrices.
•    Study of epigenetic mechanisms and genotype-environment interaction. The research on epigenetic regulation modalities has interesting applications in the biomedical field, as the modifications of epigenetic programming are directly involved in several diseases such as diabetes, neuromuscular degenerative diseases, viral infections and cancer, as well as in the regulation of mechanisms related to the sleep-wake cycle and adaptation to the environment.
 

Subjects: 

Area Science Park and University of Udine
The implementing bodies, together with the Institute of Applied Genomics (IGA), are working for the establishment of a foundation, open to the participation of primary public and private subjects, pertaining to the research sectors of genomics, biomedicine, biotechnology and bioinformatics.
 

Starting date: 

The design of the platform was started in 2018. The latest-generation equipment was purchased and installed in 2019. The foundation is expected to be launched in 2020.

Expected duration: 

Multiannual

Financing: 

The Genomics and Epigenomics Platform is currently financed by the ARGO System for € 3,928,193.21, of which € 2,842,773.70 is co-financed by the Regional Authority and the remaining part by the Ministry of University and Research (FOE fund) and AREA Science Park with its own funds.
It should be noted that the establishment of a Foundation would necessarily entail a change in the legal form as well as the financing methods of the Platform. These financial sources may also come via the contribution of founders.
 

Expected result: 
  • Strengthen the offer of regional research facilities;
  • Increase research activities and experimental opportunities in the areas of interest, strengthening scientific collaborations within and between the Institutes;
  • Carry out research, development and innovation projects in collaboration with public and private third parties.
     
Result indicators: 
  • Lines of research launched, on the basis of the areas of competence of the parties involved as well as with regard to the relevance, innovation potential and transversality of the research programmes proposed by third parties: +30;
  • Requests/expressions of interest from third parties for access to the Platform: +50.