The 100 proponents of this new unit strongly believe that with the creation and successful implementation of CINTESIS, the Portuguese scientific and technological system will be reinforced, mainly because this unit was specially designed to address, in a cost-effective manner, the highly complex research and societal challenges of the Horizon 2020 Programme. Furthermore, due to involvement of researchers from 4 different Portuguese regions, it is also likely that the unit will have a significant regional impact, namely in the North, Center and Algarve regions.
The 4 proposed thematic lines (TL) for CINTESIS i.e. TL1 - Clinical and Health Services Research, TL2 - Ageing and Neurosciences Research, TL3 - Diagnosis, Disease and Therapeutics Research and TL4 - Data and Methods Research, not only are strongly aligned with the major priorities defined by Horizon 2020 for health research in Europe, but have been designed to maximize the research interactions and complementarities of expertise and research interests among research groups (RGs), organized within these 4 major research lines.
More specifically, TL1 - Clinical Health Services Research comprises 5 RGs (G1- CriticalMed: Critical Care Emergency Medicine; G2 - CardioCare: Cardiovascular Sciences; G3- iGo: Health Tecnhology Assessement in Gastrointestinal Oncology; G4 - ProNutri: Clinical Nutrition Disease Programming and G5 - NursID: Innovation Development in Nursing); TL2 - Agening Neurosciences Research comprises 3 RGs (G6 - AgeingC: Ageing Cluster; G7 - PsychoLive: Psychology Long Living and G8 - NeuroGen: Neuronal Degeneration Regeneration); TL3 - Disease Diagnostic Research comprises 4 RGs (G9 - Innovis: Innovative Diagnostic Tools; G10 - MicroMed: Medical Microbiology; G11- MedISP: Medical Imaging Signal Processing; G12 - PharmaHT: Therapeutics, Pharmacovigilance Hypertension Diagnosis); and, finally, TL4 - Data Methods Research comprises 4 RGs (G13 - BioData: Biostatistics Intelligent Data Analysis; G14 - In4Health: Health Informatics; G15 - EvidenS: Evidence - Based Medicine Research Synthesis; G16 - ManEthics: Healthcare Management Ethics).
In total, the 16 research groups encompass most of the research capacities and expertise needed to perform translational research and innovation within real healthcare environment. To our knowledge, no other research unit in Portugal has such large research scope and combined skills and complementary research methods and resources. In practice, CINTESIS comprises mainly two applied research lines (i.e. TL1 and TL2) focused on major impact diseases and societal challenges. The two other TLs are mainly devoted to a combination of basic and applied research, one, TL3 using mostly wet labs, animal and cellular models, whereas TL4 uses dry labs and in silico models.
Although, due to space concerns it is not possible in this section to address in a more detailed manner the research role of each of the 16 research groups, a more detailed research objectives and information is present in section 9. More briefly, and as examples, specific research groups from CINTESIS will be devoted to (a) clinical and economical assessment of treatment, prevention and rehabilitative interventions (e.g. G15 - EvidenS: Evidence Based Medicine and Research Synthesis), to (b) research in methods, tools and ICT applications that may have a direct impact in the wellbeing of elderly people (e.g. G14 - In4Health: Health Informatics, G6: AgeingC: Ageing Cluster and G7: PsychoLive: Psychology and Long Living), to (c) the development and validation of new diagnostic tests (G9 - Innovis: Innovative Diagnostic Tools and G15 - EvidenS: Evidence Based Medicine and Research Synthesis), to (d) the improvement of treatment control and monitoring (G12 - PharmaHT: and G14 - In4Health: Health Informatics), and (e) methods and systems to deal with big data and complex biomedical information (G13 - BioData). The proposed structure, organization, and proposed governance model for the unit aims to decrease the high running costs of the more traditional models for health sciences research centers. In fact, CINTESIS relies in a decentralized and highly flexible management structure whereas researchers and dry and wet labs resources from 6 higher education institutions i.e. UPorto, UAveiro, ULisboa, UAlgarve, Polytechnic Institute of Porto (IPP) and Nursing School of Porto (ESEP) are to be shared, with the benefit of all the CINTESIS research community.
In addition, although all research activities are centrally discussed and promoted by a scientific steering committee comprising the 4 principal investigators (PIs), one of them being also the coordinator of the entire unit, all integrated researchers, individually and/or through their specific group PI can provide their own scientific and management inputs regarding the way the activities of the unit are planned and implemented. Above all, the decision making process is mostly delegated at the research group level, although a number of rules and procedures are to be agreed upon and followed closely. In this way, CINTESIS hopes to increase the active participation of all researchers, while keeping their activities monitored, promoting groupʼ's autonomy as well as self-accountability. However, the definition and implementation of the strategic plan (after discussions among the scientific steering committee and the scientific coordination board, comprising all group PIs and the more experienced researchers with a Scopus h-index larger than 20) will be under the responsibility of CINTESIS coordinator, who will be elected by the general assembly of the unit, comprising all integrated members.
Overall, the above described organizational structures and governance may provide a relatively low-cost and highly adaptable research unit, which is more likely to survive within the strong financial constrains that we are and will be all facing. In addition, smart specialization will arrive as an outcome of promoting local expertise and innovation, throughout several regions of Portugal.