The European Research Council awarded grants to a total of 37 research groups in 2019, worth €363 million which “will enable groups of two or four top researchers to bring together complementary skills, knowledge and resources in one research project”. These grants are known as Synergy Grants. The applications are open to researchers in a range of fields and disciplines who are tackling challenges too big to address alone. This includes challenges such as cancer research or climate change. Part of Horizon 2020, Synergy Grants are the ERC’s biggest awards, and also its only collaborative funding.
These projects involve 126 principal investigators (PIs) from 95 universities and research centres from 20 countries across the European Research Area and beyond. Notably, 24% of the successful PIs are women, which is a 9% increase from 2018. Each of these grants are worth around €10 million. They will help create over 1,000 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other support staff.
With regards to collaboration in cancer research, projects selected for funding include:
Dna Damage REsponse: Actionabilities, Maps and Mechanisms (DDREAMM):
- Jacob Corn (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
- Joanna Loizou (Research Center for Molecular Medicine, Austria)
- Steve Jackson (University of Cambridge, UK)
Using cell-cell interactions to unlock new cancer treatments: Forcing neural crest tumors back onto the developmental path (KILL-OR-DIFFERENTIATE):
- Igor Adamekyo (Medical University of Vienna, Austria)
- Olivier Delattre (Institut Curie, France)
- Susanne Schlisio (Karolinska Institute, Sweden)
- Peter Kharchenko (Harvard Medical School, USA)
With the scheme’s ultimate goal supporting close collaborative interactions enabling transformative research, there is a hope that these projects will contribute to ground-breaking discoveries and lay the platform for further advancements. This was echoed by Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. He noted that these projects “are likely to open up new opportunities and equip us to deal with the challenges of the future”.