Instruct FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about Instruct:

1. Why do we need a company to run Instruct?

In order for Instruct to have a vehicle with a legal identity and the ability to enter into contracts, a not-for-profit company is being established (called Instruct Academic Services Ltd).

During the preparatory phase different legal forms were discussed: a Belgian international non-profit association (i.e. an "Internationale Vereniging Zonder Winstoogmerk); a European Research Infrastructure ("ERIC") and a "special project" of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Of all the options the not-for-profit company was evaluated by the funding bodies and the legal team involved as the more appropriate as this stage of the project. Instruct is preparing an ERIC application expecting to be ready by March 2016.

2. Who employs the Operations Team?

The personnel are employed by the University of Oxford following the rules, regulation and salary scales of the University.

3. Why is the Instruct office in the UK?

During the preparatory phase the location of the coordinating office was discussed by the Executive Committee and it was agreed to site it at the University of Oxford in the first phase of the project. The project was coordinated from the offices at the University of Oxford during the preparatory phase. Transfer of the coordinating office to another Instruct Centre may be possible following a directive by the Instruct Council.

4. How can my institution become an Instruct Centre, and what's in it for me and my institution?

Existing Instruct Centres will be validated periodically and proposed new Centres will need to be assessed. An open call for Instruct Centres will be published in Q4 2012. More information can be found here.

Evaluation of centres: It is proposed that, in future, existing centres and applications for new associate or core centres are evaluated against specific criteria by a Validation Committee established by the Instruct Council with advice from the International Scientific Advisory Board. Centres will provide a business case that sets out their strategic fit with Instruct goals. The Validation Committee will assess the business cases against the criteria. The case for existing centres to continue as Instruct Centres, and their contribution to the goals of Instruct, will be reviewed every 5 years, with a mid-term ‘light-touch’ review to identify and address any issues such as difficulties with provision of access.

Criteria for selection of core and associate centres (Key: E-essential, P-preferable, X- not required, D-depends (specified on a case-by-case basis)):

Core

Centre

Associate

Centre

Criterion

E

-

Provides technologies defined as ‘core’ (a technology essential for the success of Instruct)

-

E

Provides a technology/expertise required for an aspect of Instruct’s strategic plan, but not currently deemed a ‘core’ technology. Could be a nascent technology.

E

E

Required technology/expertise is of world-leading standard

E

E

Fit with Instruct strategy and with existing centres

E

E

Complements existing Centres, eg in technology, expertise, and geographic location

E

E

Has contributed significantly to its field in Europe

E

D

Firm commitment to provide access at a level that allows a reasonable number of Instruct projects to be accommodated

E

E

Firm commitment to provide expertise necessary to support users and technical development (as appropriate)

E

E

The applicant centre’s country or other funding agency is willing to make the commitment required to support Instruct (eg subscription to Instruct, underwrite fixed running costs)

E

P

Willing to enter pan-European collaborations (science)

E

P

Track record of scientific collaborations (European/international)

E

E

Willing to collaborate (tech development)

E

E

Track record of technical development

E

X

Experience of integrative technological approaches

X

E

Linked to a core centre.

E

E

Be willing to comply with Instruct IP policy for Instruct-related projects.

Criteria for National Affiliated Centres

Instruct National Affiliated Centres will:

  • Be a centre of excellence within the context of their host country
  • Provide some, not necessarily all, of the core Instruct technologies
  • Show evidence of an intention to move towards integrated structural biology approaches
  • Offer access to National Affiliated Centre facilities to national, and possibly non-national, users
  • Be capable of, and willing to organise training programmes in collaboration with Instruct
  • Be willing to participate in the transfer of relevant new technologies to/from Instruct
  • Function at a higher level as a single unit when distributed sites are involved
  • Provide a coherent sustainable plan including governance, that enables operation as a single site

5. Can anyone apply for Instruct training programmes?

Instruct will provide training in advanced integrative structural biology to the structural and cell biologists and the broader biological community. All scientists from member countries can apply to the training program.

6. What is the relationship between Instruct and the I3 projects P-cube, Bio-NMR and Biostruct-X?

There are a number of routes through which funds may be available to cover the costs of accessing specific areas of structural biology infrastructure. The Instruct proposal system will identify projects that would benefit from access through existing funded programmes set out below and will provide a direct link to facilitate this process:

  • Instruct: Instruct provides some funds directly to support access to infrastructure. Instruct funds will be available according to the following criteria: i) no other access funding is available for the platform work proposed, ii) the proposal forms part of a research project that is interdisciplinary and uses an integrated technology approach, iii) the impact of the research is scored highly.
  • P-cube: Protein Production Service/technology. This programme funded access to protein expression systems (bacterial, mammalian, insect and library methods), protein purification and crystallization.
    • P-cube has ended some of its activities are available through Instruct and BioStruct-X
  • BioNMR: This programme funds access to solution and solid-state NMR, including some of the highest field spectrometers. BioNMR has ended some of its activities are available through Instruct
  • BioStruct-X: This programme funds access to synchrotron activities.
  • Prime-XS:This programme provides funded access to state-of-the-art proteomics technology for the biological and biomedical research community in Europe. Prime-XS has ended some of its activities are available through Instruct
  • WeNMR: This programme provides a computational and collaborative platform for structural biology in general and for users of existing European infrastructures in particular, with an emphasis on data analysis and structural modelling using NMR and SAXS data.

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