CTLS: a professional association for core facilities

First administrative board of the new CTLS association with, from left to right: Elena Trovesi, Patrick England, Josh Rappoport, Ralf Palmisano, Spencer Shorte, and Rainer Pepperkok. IMAGE: EMBL

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The Core Technologies in Life Sciences (CTLS) association was established during the CTLS 2016 congress hosted by EMBL in June 2016, and should become a key resource for professionals in core facilities

The founding president and vice-president of CTLS, Spencer Shorte and Patrick England, both from France’s Institut Pasteur, and treasurer Rainer Pepperkok, from EMBL in Germany, want it to grow into a key resource for professionals in core facilities.

Access to complex and ever-evolving technologies is essential for biomedical researchers, but can be difficult for smaller laboratories to set up and manage. To ensure that scientists get access to the best equipment, many universities and life science research institutions now have specialised core facilities and infrastructures operated by dedicated staff who are experts in those technologies. EMBL, for example, has core facilities that cover a wide range of technologies used in molecular biology, including imaging technologies, genetic sequencing and engineering and database management.

The newly created CTLS association aims to support the professionalisation of core facility and research infrastructure staff, as well as to lobby for their recognition and represent their needs. In terms of expertise and geography, the scope of the organisation is as wide as its membership: its 100 founding members are from 21 countries worldwide, covering all areas of life sciences from genomics and proteomics to biobanking and clinical research.

We want to be ‘all inclusive’ and attract professionals from all the disciplines that can be useful for research in the life sciences

“We want to be ‘all inclusive’ and attract professionals from all the disciplines that can be useful for research in the life sciences, to identify common problems, find global solutions, and learn from each other,” explains Pepperkok, head of core facilities at EMBL.

The founding board was elected during the CTLS 2016 conference hosted by EMBL, where the statutes were also voted on and accepted. The goals of this new pan-European association are to offer a forum for professionals in core facilities to meet and share information, as well as to help members with training. The association will organise regular conferences, workshops and networking events; it will also produce a database of all existing core facilities available in Europe, and provide advice and support to institutions that want to set up their own facilities.

“The CTLS association brings together institutions with high-level core facilities, like the Institut Pasteur and EMBL, with the aim to support and develop the same efficient and collaborative way of working across the whole of Europe,” explains Spencer Shorte, head of Imagopole at the Institut Pasteur.