National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan

Updated October 2013NHRINHRINHRI

Background Information on the Organisation

Mission statement

Scientists at the NHRI conduct mission-oriented medical research and investigate many aspects of the biomedical sciences, as well as specific diseases, from bench to bedside; develop biotechnology from vaccine and drug discovery; and conduct clinical trials. NHRI also acts as a think tank for medical health research and development, promotes cooperation to boost Taiwan’s biotechnology industry, and advises the government on health-related policies.

Organisational status

There are seven Institutes, one Division, and three Research Centers in NHRI.

Institutes

  • National Institute of Cancer Research
  • Institute of Cellular and System Medicine
    • The Regenerative Medicine Research Group
    • The Cardiovascular & Metabolic Medicine Research Group
    • The Age-Related Disease Research Group
  • Institute of Population Sciences
    • Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
    • Division of Clinical Trial Statistics
    • Division of Geriatric Research
    • Division of Health Policy Translation
    • Division of Preventive Medicine and Health Services Research
  • Institute of Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Research
  • Institute of Molecular and Genomic Medicine

  • National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology
    • Division of Infectious Diseases
    • Vaccine Research and Development Center
  • Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Nanomedicine
    • Division of Medical Engineering Research

    • Center for Nanomedicine Research

Division

  • Division of Environmental Health & Occupational Medicine

Centers

  • Immunology Research Center
  • Center for Neuropsychiatric Research
  • National Environmental Health Research Center

Research Resources

The NHRI sets up core facilities such as Cell Bank, Digital Library and Bioinformatics, to meet the needs of intramural research programs and to provide services to medical centers and research institutions. Research resources at the NHRI are listed as follows:

  • National Health Insurance Research Database: NHRI was entrusted by the Bureau of National Health Insurance to manage the research use of the bureau’s database.
  • NHRI Cell Bank: This joint venture with Food Industry Research and Development Institute was established in 1998 to provide high-quality cell strains.
  • National Health Interview Survey: Every four years NHRI and the Bureau of Health Promotion conduct this national survey on the health status of Taiwan’s citizenry. The survey was first conducted in 2001.
  • Bioinformatics Services: NHRI provides scientists with comprehensive and timely services in bioinformatics, such as analytical tools, mirror sites, and training.

Core Facilities

  • DNA Sequencing Core Lab
  • Optical Biology Core
  • Pathology Core
  • Cell Sorter Core Lab
  • Microarray Core Lab
  • Live Cell Image core Lab
  • Protein Chemistry Core Lab
  • Core Shared Facilities

Taiwan Cooperative Oncology Group (TCOG)

TCOG is the first organization in Taiwan to conduct multi-center clinical trials in cancer treatment. Its tasks are to utilize patient resources effectively, ensure the safety and ethics of clinical trials, and establish therapies through a cautious monitoring system. Currently, TCOG has 24 affiliated hospitals serving more than 90% of Taiwan’s cancer patients.

The primary aims of TCOG are:

  • to promote high-quality clinical research
  • to facilitate multi-center oncology trials
  • to improve cancer treatment and care
  • to develop new modalities of treatment
  • to set up clinical guidelines for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer

Remit

The National Health Research Institutes (NHRI), Taiwan is a non-profit foundation established by the government with its organization charter created by an Act of Congress (Legislative Yuan) and signed in 1995. Being an autonomous research organization under the supervision of the Department of Health, Executive Yuan, NHRI is dedicated to the enhancement of medical research and the improvement of health care in Taiwan.

web link

National Health Research Institutes

Annual Research Budget

TWD $2,200,000,000 (USD $73,000,000) annually in National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan

Stem Cell Budget

Approximately 60 million dollars (TWD) from National Science Council to fund individual stem cell-related research grants.

Individual Stem Cell Research Grant

Year

Number of Grants

Annual Budget (in USD)

2006

41

1,584,700

2007

37

1,691,800

2008

36

1,607,700

2009

45

1,971,600

2010

44

1,986,200

2011

47

1,955,300

2012

45

2,000,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, there is additional budget from National Science Council to fund integrated grant proposals. There are four integrated programs to work on research that leans toward clinical applications in the future.

Stem Cell Strategy

There are a total of five forward-looking projects:

  1. From pluripotent stem cells to germ cells
  2. Stemness genes in cell differentiation, tissue regeneration, and tumor formation
  3. Signal pathways and epigenetic regulation of stem cells
  4. Stem cell signaling mechanisms and therapeutic applications
  5. Specific Markers and their Biological Functions in Stem Cells and Cancer Stem Cells

In addition, a new program emphasizing drug screening using either induced pluripotent stem cells or other reprogrammed cells derived from patients has been implemented.

Key Stem Cell Centres/Investments

Recent Research Achievements and Outputs

Using the National Health Research Institutes Repository to search the publications: http://ir.nhri.org.tw/

New Funding Inititatives

Currently, there are five programs for stem cell and regenerative medicine Frontier Research National Flagship Programs for Stem Cell Research funded by National Science Council, including

  1. From pluripotent stem cells to germ cells;
  2. Stemness genes in cell differentiation, tissue regeneration and tumor formation;
  3. Signal pathways and epigenetic regulation of stem cells;
  4. Stem cell signaling mechanisms and therapeutic applications;
  5. Specific Markers and their Biological Functions in Stem Cells and Cancer Stem Cells;

New funding for Priority Stem Cell Research Program with a budget of 120 million dollars is scheduled to begin by the year end of 2014.

National Stem Cell Network or Contact Point

Taiwan Stem Cell Bank

In just a few years, “stem cells” has often appeared on the cover story of many important scientific journals and headlines of media. Stem cells have a broad range of potentials in therapy, drug discovery, and developmental biology. Many countries listed “stem cells” as one of national projects and top priority in medical research. “Stem Cell Centers” were/are established in many hospitals, organizations and universities. It magnetically gathers more and more scientists to participate and compete in this field. However, the key of success in stem cell contest depends on the original material—stem cells themselves, including the source and quality of cells. The varieties of culture conditions and different characterization profiles of stem cells make it difficult to repeat and compare among laboratories and publications, especially for the interpretation of clinical potentials. Therefore, many international societies and national stem cell banks endeavor to promote the quality control and minimal criteria for characterization of stem cells. International Stem Cell Forum (ISCF) has just published their first initiative (ISCI I) for the characterization of human embryonic stem cell lines (Nature Biotechnology 2007; 25:803-816). ISCF also announced a final draft of consensus guidance for banking and supply of human embryonic stem cell lines for research purposes (International Stem Cell Bank initiative, ISCBI I). Taiwan Stem Cell Bank (TSCB) project aims to establish a friendly infrastructure of human stem cells in Taiwan. The short-term goals are 1) to set up the ISCI I protocols for the qualification of collected embryonic stem cells, 2) to follow ISCBI I protocols for collecting, maintaining and quality controlling stem cells, 3) to distribute the high quality of stem cells, and 4) to provide stem cell-related training courses. We expect to finish the construction of one general laboratory and 2 good laboratory practice (GLP)-compliant stem cell processing rooms by the end of 2009. We will import 3 highly used human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines from international banks and also include 3 domestic hESC lines to TSCB. After full characterization and stringent quality control, these hESC lines will open to the public by the end of 2009.

Other Major Funders of Stem Cell Research in Taiwan

National Science Council (NSC)

Helpful Web-Links

 

Previous Update

January 2012

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