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European Research Council to Award $830M for Life Sciences Research in 2013

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The European Research Council plans to award around €683 million ($833 million) in 2013 to fund life sciences research projects across Europe, ERC said this week.

The most recent life sciences funding call from ERC, which was launched in 2007 as the first pan-European scientific research funding body, will make up about 39 percent of the ERC's total of €1.75 billion for research funding for next year.

Much of ERC's remaining 2013 funds, around 44 percent of the total, will support the physical sciences, and about 17 percent is marked for the social sciences. In total, ERC expects that its 2013 funding will provide grants that support 900 researchers, with each of them employing around six team members.

The ERC will accept life sciences research proposals in a wide range of areas, and has set up evaluation panels in nine focus areas, although these may overlap for multidisciplinary project proposals. These evaluation panels include one group focused on genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, proteomics, metabolomics, computational biology, and other related areas.

Another panel will review proposals involving molecular and structural biology and biochemistry, including studies using molecular synthesis, biophysics, structural biology, metabolism, and signal transduction.

The other seven panels will review a broad array of research applications including projects that focus on applied life sciences studies in medical and non-medical technologies, such as efforts using genetic engineering for environmental, aquaculture, and synthetic biology applications.

Under this call, the ERC plans to fund five types of grants.

The Starting Grant program will support early-career investigators who are starting their own independent research teams or programs. It will provide up to €1.5 million over five years for the research and up to an additional €500,000 to cover start-up costs.

The Advanced Grant program will award up to €2.5 million to fund established, active scientists who are pursuing ground-breaking, high-risk research pursuing new directions in any field. These grants may include up to an additional €1 million in start-up costs.

The Synergy Grants will award up to €15 million for up to six years for projects in which a small group of investigators and their teams use interdisciplinary approaches and shared resources to pursue complex scientific problems.

The Consolidator Grants will award up to €2 million over five years, and up to €750,000 to cover start-up costs, to fund investigators who have recently started their own research programs and are consolidating their projects and teams.

The Proof-of-Concept Grants will support ERC grant holders who are seeking to move their projects toward commercialization, and will provide up to €150,000 to fund them as they identify a development path and an intellectual property rights strategy, and prepare a package to be presented to venture capitalists, companies, social entrepreneurs, or other potential investors.

"These new calls, which I hope will stir the curiosity of many researchers, will continue to provide the best talents working in Europe with generous and long-term funding," ERC President Helga Nowotny said in a statement. "I am personally convinced that it is crucial to allow researchers the freedom they need to explore new ideas in rapidly-emerging fields."

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