Scientists to debate virtues of a European Research CouncilParis - Life scientists are meeting at UNESCO Headquarters on 19 February to share their views on the feasibility of establishing a European Research Council (ERC). The aim would be to encourage European scientific research to regain some of the ground it has lost in recent years, partly as a result of reduced funding. An ERC would complement the existing European Commission Framework Programme and various National Research Council programmes in support of high-quality basic research at the European level.
The prospect was discussed at a meeting last October in Copenhagen (Denmark) under the Danish presidency of the European Commission and has also been debated by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and European Science Foundation (ESF). What is missing at this stage is a clear, co-ordinated scientific perspective on the topic.
The meeting is being organized by the European Life Sciences Forum, a coalition of independent organizations, in conjunction with EMBO, the Federation of European Biochemical Societies and UNESCO. The outcome will be presented to European Commissioner Philippe Busquin and a final report will be circulated widely to ensure that the scientific community is aware of its conclusions.
Three Nobel Prize laureates in Physiology or Medicine (Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Germany 1995; John Sulston, UK, 2002; Rolf Zinkernagel, Switzerland, 1996), as well as François Gros of the Pasteur Institute (France), will give their personal opinions at a morning session, followed by an open discussion. In the afternoon there will be panels of prominent life scientists, national funding agencies, international organisations and representatives of the European Commission.
Journalists wishing to cover the meeting need to be accredited by UNESCO’s Press Service: tel +33(0)1 45 68 17 48