FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências Agrárias

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Investigação Interdisciplinar em Sanidade Animal [AGR-LVT-Lisboa-276] visitada em 12/02/2008

Classificação: Very Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
Goals, ongoing and planned projects, strategic development in the future.
The CIISA is one of the leading units in veterinary medicine area in Portugal. It has been created in 1992 in the frame of “Programa Ciência”.
The main objectives of CIISA are to develop, integrate and articulate Research and Developments activities conducted at FMV (Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária).
The unit is comprised by four groups with 112 researchers (PhD – 71 (63%); MS – 12 and graduates – 29) and 24 lab assistants In comparison with 2003 the increase is with 13 PhD and 49 MS. The ratio between the veterinarians and the other specialists is almost equal which is considered to be a positive trend. It seems that the structure of the unit with the four groups:
Animal Health and Prevention; Pathology and Medicine Biotechnology and Animal
Production and Food Safety with a few exceptions is very well and multidisciplinary composed in order to be able to accomplish the respective objectives as: Control of economically important diseases; animal models for important human and animal diseases and safety, quality and control of food production. This role has been shown to be performed with close cooperation with other national (26) and international (25) Universities; official services (34); private enterprises (27); professional associations (8) and other national and international institutions (61). Thus it is very relevant to the national priorities of the country. To great extent it deals also the European and African animal pathology and epidemiology problems.
The organization of the CIISA is realized by Scientific Board which integrates all researchers.
Surprisingly the unit has not created Externally Advisory Board.
The funding in the period 2003 – 2006 is over 5 mln € for every year (trances between 5 – 5, 5 mln €). During this period the FCT and Government support has not been increased. However recognizing the importance of CIISA to become a Center of Excellence the FMU allocate plural funding for more than 82 projects like: preliminary studies for promising research areas; academic programs – MS; PhD and Post docs; funding ‘in – between’ projects; active participation in scientific meeting; equipment maintenance and repair publications; organization of training courses, workshops and congresses and hiring young researcher.
Because of the strong activities of the Animal health and Prevention group almost 50% of income of the unit is due to funds coming from FP of EC.

The publications have shown significant and impressive increased ratio especially the articles in international journals with 65% (216). The ISI index as a whole has been also improved very much. Mostly of the publications demonstrate a good nature of fundamental and applied research.
The unit is located in relatively very new building. The panel however got the impression that most of the recent facilities and the equipment slowly are getting out of date and new renovation.
As a whole the unit has one of the most well combined and modern infrastructure in Portugal.
The extension service is very good. The hospitalization is done in place with small and big animals. It helps the unit to get a good image in the society as well.

Training of young researchers and students
It is very satisfactory.

Organization of workshops
Regular.

Interdisciplinary activities
The panel thinks that it is very good as a whole. However more integration between the groups is definitely required in order the unit to be more successful in the future. Additionally the panel recognizes that the research which deals with drought tolerance in maize and biofuel studies in Biotechnology and Production group could be much better developed if they are integrated into the research of ICAM unit N 115 in Evora or the Centro de Botânica Aplicada à Agricultura AGR – LVT – Lisboa 240.

Interactions with other national and international research units and companies
The tendency to improve essentially the cooperation and the integration into national and international programs and initiatives should continue. Some priorities should be identified for the better internationalization in order to avoid the dilution.

Participation in international research programmes (EU etc.)
The good examples which already exist in some of the groups like Animal Health and Prevention should be followed from the rest in order to achieve the goal of excellence.

Knowledge and technology transfer
Well developed.

Outreach activities
Well developed.

Attitude and work environment
The leadership of the unit and the groups showed clear organizational and motivation capacity. The groups and the unit meet regularly. The researchers are committed. They respect each other and the leadership as well.

Most pertinent comments and recommendations
The Panel has observed some improvements from the last evaluation exercise and thinks that the unit developed sufficient potential to continue to improve its entire R&D work. The Panel could make the following recommendations:
- To develop more strategic vision and partnership in both national and international level.
- To develop External Advisory Board and on the base of this more strategic leadership.
- To apply more actively into the EC framework programs and Ministry of Health care in more coherent approach.
- Better exploitation of the equipment and the facilities.
- To strengthen the socioeconomical and socioethical research and policy.
- Integration into LEAF is highly desirable.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Pathology and Medicine [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-276-1951]
This was considered a very good research group with a good mix of more basic and applied research. Its goals and plans for the future were very relevant but very much a continuation of current research themes. Some new and challenging themes might be considered.
Levels of research funding and standard of journals in which the main research findings are published are both impressive. International collaboration is satisfactory but there might have been more joint projects with international partners.
Involvement in conferences and in technology transfer and outreach activities is satisfactory.
Involvement in training during the review period especially at the PhD level was somewhat disappointing but improvement recently is noted.
Group organisation and leadership is adequate as is the climate for the training of young researchers.
Productivity and quality of the group is good.

A great many of topics; group does not seem to be very coherent
Externally financed projects seem to exceed the general scope of the group
It is not clear how the group interacts with the stakeholders and justifies its priorities.
What are the concrete deliverables, apart from the scientific publications?
Are students involved in the research?
Indeed many international contacts; but few cooperative projects.
Future plans are essentially the continuation of ongoing work. Is there a striking new development?
Why no plans for cooperative and/or internationally funded projects?
Animal Health and Prevention [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-276-1949]
This is an excellent research group with an international reputation for research in viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases. It has an excellent record in attracting research funding and in its international collaboration on research in very important and currently topical diseases such as TSEs, African Swine Fever, Avian Influenza and Blue-Tongue. Its principal publications are in very respectable international journals.
This group has excellent leadership and organisation. The climate created for the training of young researchers is vey good but given the size of the group the numbers of post-graduate students might be greater.
The scientific achievements appear very good.
Productivity rather good (IF&NC) with one 1 highlight.
It is not clear how the group interacts with the stakeholders and on what societal and scientific criteria the concrete projects are based.
A large international network is claimed but concrete cooperative projects and international funding is not very apparent.
The group includes a great many researchers (PhD’s) but no indication of the productivity is given (number publications in referred journals/year/PhD) No indication is given how research and education interfere.
No clear indications of what deliverables the group is producing for society and stakeholders.
Plans for the future are essentially the continuation of ongoing work.
Only few concrete projects for cooperative and/or international projects in the pipeline!
The group wants to increase its international dimension. What concrete strategy and plans are being developed?
Biotechnology and Animal Production [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-276-1952]
This was considered a very good research group with a good mix of basic and applied research. Its highlighted research results were in high impact factor journals with high citation numbers. The group has made international impact especially with its research on the structural and molecular biology of cellulases and hemicellulases.
Its plans for the future were generally considered appropriate and relevant. Its interest in research relevant to the tropics and sustainable production systems was noted. But the relevance of getting into research on novel nanotechnologies for bio-fuels is questioned.
Group organisation and leadership is considered very good.
The climate for the training of young researchers is also very good but the panel would like to have seen greater numbers particularly at the PhD level in a research group of this size.
Greater involvement in PhD training is recommended
Food Safety and Technology [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-276-1950]
This is considered a good research group that integrates very well veterinary and other food science disciplines in research on food products of animal origin. Output is satisfactory and publications are in the predictable journals for this area. The levels of national and international collaboration and involvement in conferences and technology transfer are also satisfactory.
The panel would stress the need for dynamic and strong leadership in this area to get support from the industry and funding for important research in safety and quality of food of animal origin.
The climate for training of young researchers is quite good.
The unit has some interesting themes related to meat quality which should be developed beyond the assessment of influencing factors to a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms.
Details of industry contract research are missing. The future research programme looks promising, but the proposal to study pollutants in marine mammals needs to be well justified as this represents an additional subject area.