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Former Top EU Scientist on His Record

Mauro Ferrari, the former president of the European Research Council, defends his short tenure there, ScienceInsider reports.

Ferrari resigned from his post last week, citing "disappointment" in the agency's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Financial Times reported, Ferrari said in a statement that he had sought to set up a research program to enable the ERC to fund studies into the disease, but was stymied by the agency's scientific council, which noted the ERC is only allowed to fund "bottom-up" research proposed by scientists.

In its own statement issued the following day, the ERC's scientific council countered that it had asked Ferrari in March to step down, citing a lack of understanding of and engagement with the position and the ERC's mission. In particular, it says Ferrari missed a number of key meetings and was involved in a number of outside endeavors that interfered with his ability to conduct his ERC duties.

At ScienceInsider, Ferrari says his outside activities had been approved by the European Commission and hadn't been informed that that or his attendance record were problems. He adds that he also wasn't going to say he was leaving to spend more time with his family. "Leaving with a flimsy excuse, when people are in the biggest crisis of a generation?" he says at ScienceInsider.