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Fotis Kafatos Dies

Fotis Kafatos, a molecular biologist who served as the founding president of the European Research Council, has died, the Associated Press reports. He was 77.

As the AP notes, Kafatos, who was a professor at Harvard University from 1969 through 1994, was also known for his work into malaria and for sequencing the genome of the mosquito that spreads it.

In 2007, the European Research Council, which funds scientific projects, was founded as part of the European Commission, and the AP says that Kafatos considered its creation the highlight of his career. He stepped down as its president in 2010.

"He was a world-class biologist and his contribution to the successful setting up of the ERC has been decisive," the council says in a statement. "With great commitment and stamina he fought with heart and soul for having this new organization that scientists had been demanding for a long time."

The AP adds that Kafatos became fed up with the associated bureaucratic rules, which he said slowed the pace of research, and it notes that he once told Nature that "[w]e continuously had to spend energy, time and effort on busting bureaucracy roadblocks that kept appearing in our way."