Round Table Discussion in Croatia: Careers in Biomedical Science - How to Drive Positive Change

Co-organized by the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts (CASA) 

and the University of Zagreb School of Medicine 

Zagreb, 28.11.2019. 

University of Zagreb School of Medicine, member of Alliance4Life, recently organized a national round table discussion together with the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (CASA) - “Careers in Biomedical Science - How to Drive Positive Change.” The main topics included discussions on Excellence in the Academic Setting, and Academic Setting in Clinical Hospitals.

The program began with introductory remarks from Davor Miličić, member and Vice-President of the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts (CASA), Professor Marijan Klarica, Dean of the University of Zagreb School of Medicine (UZSM) and Professor Željko Krznarić, President of the Croatian Medical Association.

Introductory lectures for the first topic, Excellence in the Academic Setting, were delivered by Professor Davor Ježek from UZSM and member of the Strategy board of the Alliance4Life project, and Professor Seppo Parkkila from the University of Tampere, Finland, and member of the Advisory board to the Alliance4Life project. Prof. Ježek presented important features, deliverables, and outcomes of the Alliance4Life project. Prof. Parkkila spoke about his experiences in the two-year restructuring project at the University of Tampere and the benefits of the restructuring of the university, which resulted in increased research outputs, multidisciplinary projects, higher international mobility, better funding, and an exceptional career development system.

The panelists and other participants concluded that research funding is insufficient, especially for young scientists. There is a need for planning careers in science and education, which will encourage scientists’ stays or returns to Croatia. In addition, administrative burdens prevent incoming mobility, as well as the return of Croatian researchers to Croatia. Many young people interested in working in science go abroad because there is no possibility for their employment at adequate positions, or for their enrolment in PhD studies. Since “brain circulation” is one of the major themes of the Ministry of Science and Education during the preparation for Presidency of the European Council, this will be an important message to the MSE.

Introductory speeches for the second theme, Academic Setting in Clinical Hospitals, were delivered by Professor Vili Beroš, Assistant to the Minister of Health, and Prof. Jasmina Havranek, the Director of the Agency of Science and Higher Education. Prof. Beroš presented legislation relevant to career development in academic hospitals, determining workload in the clinical setting, and mentioned the importance of finding answers to the challenges of the White Paper recommendations - an outcome of the Alliance4Life project. He also indicated the necessary collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Education (MSE) and the schools of medicine. Prof. Havranek presented the role of the Agency of Science and Higher Education in ensuring the HEI quality and stated that the agency is a partner of higher education institutions, and that quality, in the context of the EU, is a shared goal. Prof. Havranek invited institutions to define their difficulties and said that they should actively work on finding solutions, since the demands for ensuring high standards continue to grow. She mentioned the problem of the lack of execution of existing good policies and strategies within Croatia, which has to change.

The discussion on both topics revealed the working issues in clinical and research institutions, the lack of collaboration between sectors, and emphasized the need for cooperation between different governing institutions, especially between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Education. It was presented that scientific achievements of individual research groups, departments, or hospital clinics, are based solely on working outside of working hours, enthusiasm, and the enormous efforts of people, who often sacrifice their personal lives and even health to achieve results. The system should help to involve more scientists in EU programs by strengthening support for researchers, infrastructure, financing the procurement and maintenance of equipment, and increasing funding for scientific research.

The conclusion of the round table emphasized the responsibility of the Alliance4Life project participants to inform the Strategic Board and the Project Coordinator, as well as to send the conclusions to the government of the Republic of Croatia and the European Commission, and to seek their support. The Alliance4Life project is a contribution to the cohesion policy of the government of the Republic of Croatia, especially during the Croatian Presidency of the European Council in the first half of next year. CASA Vice-President Miličić confirmed that it is an honour for CASA to support the project that has the potential to be a visible stakeholder in today's modern developed Europe, and thanked the project members for their contributions.

Panelists of the round table were: Alliance4life project members, members of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, members of the Board of Directors from the University of Zagreb, deans of medical schools, the President of the Croatian Medical Association, directors of clinical hospital centres, Director of the Agency for Mobility and EU Programs, Director of the Agency of Science and Higher Education, representatives from the Ministry of Health, representatives from the Ministry of Science and Education, Assistant Professor at the University of Rijeka, PhD students from UZSM, as well as more than 40 other participants.

More information about the Alliance4Life project and the project partners is available on the project website –

The project "Alliance for Life Sciences: Closing Research and Innovation Divide in the European Union" received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 779303.