A quantum leap in excellence
Parallel to large institutes or laboratories, some relatively small research groups or even individuals with outstanding achievements have gained high international visibility. A great example of this is the European Research Council advanced grant for innovations in quantum computing. It gave a significant boost to the development of quantum information theory and quantum computing in Latvia.
Fundamental and applied research in the fields of soft magnetic materials, cell biology, and nanomaterials are published in high-ranking scientific journals. Daugavpils University is internationally recognised for its expertise in ecology and systematics.
Due to recent ground-breaking findings in biology and advances in IT technology, the 21st century is sometimes called the “century of biology”. This resonates with Latvian researchers who focus on such important fields as contemporary public health issues, climate change, and biodiversity.
Knowledge about exact protein structures will greatly facilitate the design of pharmaceuticals and help adapt existing proteins to industrial needs in the future. Two scientific institutes (LBRSC and LIOS) are actively working to resolve protein structures. New vaccines and new drug targets are being identified in close collaboration with molecular biologists and synthetic chemists. Since 2018, Latvia is a member of the EU-wide structural biology network Instruct_ERIC, meaning that further promotion of structural biology can be expected in Latvia.
Microorganisms are permanently both a partner and threat to human health and wellbeing. Yet, they provide the biochemical basis for environmentally friendly chemical synthesis solutions that will be used for pollution remediation in the future. Experts from LBRSC and UL are looking to identify human gut microorganisms as well as optimal bacterial consortia to clean up chemically polluted environments.
Cancer poses a permanent threat to humanity. LBRSC, the RSU Institute of Oncology, and researchers from UL are conducting pre-clinical studies on cancer. The Genome Database of the Latvian Population is a Latvian biobank initiative that accumulates information and patient materials for prophylaxis and scientific, and therapeutic purposes. The database has been a part of the EU biobank network BBMRI-ERIC since 2016.