LS4FUTURE brings together three research units – MOSTMICRO-ITQB, GREEN-IT and iNOVA4Health – and five institutions – ITQB NOVA, iBET, IGC, NOVA Medical School and IPO Lisboa – in a unique infrastructure in Portugal dedicated to the study of Life Sciences, through fundamental, clinical, and applied research. This Associate Laboratory subscribes to the One Health concept, working towards human and environmental health to ensure a sustainable future for humankind and our planet. Gathering diverse and complementary expertise, LS4FUTURE tackles problems in a transdisciplinary and comprehensive way, providing effective solutions for current and emerging societal challenges.
LS4FUTURE has its origins in the Laboratório Associado de Oeiras (LAO) created more than 20 years as a national case study for promotion of scientific careers, having set up a pioneering and very successful program to hire PhD researchers. In 2021, LS4FUTURE was granted the Associate Laboratory Status by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), receiving a total of 8.5M€ of funding until 2025. This title is awarded to research and development (R&D) institutions or consortiums evaluated as “excellent” and that bring the necessary critical mass for the pursuit of national scientific and technological policy objectives.
The Associate Laboratory’s Coordinator and Vice Director of ITQB NOVA, Inês Cardoso Pereira, presented LS4FUTURE’s strategy and vision at the kickoff meeting, followed by presentations from the coordinators of each integrated thematic line powering its science: IGC Director Mónica Bettencourt Dias, António Jacinto (CEDOC/NMS), Paula Alves (iBET) and Margarida Oliveira (ITQB NOVA). The event gathered several group leaders and heads from the participant R&D institutions and counted with the presence of the Trustee of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (FCG), José Neves Adelino. The attendees got to celebrate the kickoff of this infrastructure and to discuss the profound impact it will have on the research and innovation landscape in Portugal and Europe, given that it combines public and private (not-for-profit) institutions from the sectors of Higher Education, Research, Industry Interface and Hospitals.
Mónica Bettencourt Dias, IGC Director and coordinator of one of the LS4FUTURE’s thematic lines – “Molecules to Ecosystems” –, highlighted the added value of this Associate Laboratory: “it brings together different institutions with distinct capacities in research, equipment, and international links, covering many areas that are complementary. Together we can do much better frontier research and we can also have more impact, be it at the level of the sustainability of the ecosystem or health. Also, because we have a bigger critical mass, we can think about careers, internationalization, and links to society in a completely different way”.
LS4FUTURE is the largest Associate Laboratory in the Life Sciences gathering more than 1000 researchers and hosting over 500 PhD holders, including 12 ERC grantees and 13 EMBO members. It provides a very strong researcher training program, including 13 Master and 12 PhD programs, as well as training and support to PhD holders at various levels of their career, including dedicated programs on innovation. The Associate Laboratory works closely with several strategic partners in Health, Industry, Education, Government and Municipalities.
The kickoff meeting set the intention and evidenced the promising future of this unique infrastructure, which is committed to promote further initiatives between the different institutions, leveraging their strengths and consolidating their national and international position. Ultimately, this will foster the development of the science and technology needed for a sustainable future.