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Response to the resignation of ERC President Mauro Ferrari

EMBL Director General Edith Heard responds to the resignation of the President of the European Research Council (ERC)

It is with regret that we learned about ERC President Mauro Ferrari’s resignation, his statement to the press and the ensuing discussion about the role of the ERC in research funding across Europe. I strongly believe that the ERC should be considered as a jewel in the crown of Europe’s successful scientific strategy, with countless contributions to discoveries that have applications in all areas of public health.

The ERC’s remit of funding bottom-up, frontier research judged solely on the basis of excellence is crucial in providing scientists the necessary support and freedom to make discoveries that will help to address a variety of societal challenges. In this way, basic research and scientific services will always play an important role in delivering new treatments or vaccines against Sars-CoV-2, and a number of ERC-funded projects relate to coronavirus.

As Europe’s leading inter-governmental organisation in the life sciences whose former Director General Fotis Kafatos was the founding ERC President from 2007 until 2010, EMBL strongly supports the ERC’s decision to stay true to its core principle of not opening funding calls for specific topics. While we, the scientific community, must all do what we can to quickly and effectively deliver means to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, we must also ensure that we do not compromise the support for excellence in basic research which will bring the solutions to prevent and combat the challenges that public and planetary health face today.

Tags: Coronavirus, COVID-19, ERC, European Research Council, Heard, Kafatos, SARS-CoV-2

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