ERC grants reveal unequal spread


Rome – The EUR2.5m ERC Advanced Grants are the Grammies of European science – not in the same league as a Nobel Prize, but still a lucrative honor. In the fourth round since 2007, the European Research Council awarded some a590m to 266 established research leaders. Following the money reveals something about the distribution of excellence centres in Europe’s life sciences, very few of which lie in the south. Of the 99 grants in the life sciences, just eight went to Italian and four to Spanish researchers. Scientists from Greece, the former Yugoslavia, Portugal and Cyprus went empty-handed. The allocation of grants not only shows where the strongholds are at the European level, but also at the national one. In Italy, the north – and especially Milan – emerged as the epicentre of Italian life sciences research, with the IFOM Fondazione Istituto FIRC di Oncologia Molecolare and the Istituto Europeo di Oncologia both grabbing two grants. Two other winners – the Istituto Di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri and the Istituto Nazionale di Genetica Molecolare – are also based in Milan. In Spain, the picture is similar. Three of the winners are in Barcelona: the Centre de Regulació Genòmica, the Institut D’Investigacio Biomedica de Bellvitge and the Centre de Recerca en Epidemiologia Ambiental. The fourth is located in Madrid.



Rome/Milan – Together with two Italian research institutes, British drug giant Glaxo­SmithKline has begun to develop a therapy for the heriditary immune defect ADA-SCID, which affects only 350 children worldwide. Fondazione...



Rome – When it comes to GMOs, the gap between Italy’s federal government and its regions that has marked the country for years is rapidly widening into a gulf. The latest rupture was on display at the October session of the...



Valletta – A new Life Sciences Park is to be created on the outskirts of Malta’s capital Valletta. The EUR20m project will provide space for companies operating in biotechnology and medical sciences. The park will be located in...



Verona – Scientists at Glaxo­SmithKline in Verona have discovered that specific neurons in the amygdala control how mice react to fear stimuli. When they switched off the so-called Type I cells in the animals’ amyg­dala, the mice...



San Michele all’Adige – The genetic code of the Golden Delicious apple has been deciphered. Led by Riccardo Velasco at the Edmund Mach Foundation in San Michele all’Adige in Italy’s Trentino province, a team of scientists from 20...



: It’s hard to be a pro-GMO campaigner in Italy. Since 2001, the regions there have not implemented the plans for coexistence that were suggested by a ministerial decree. Instead, there was a de facto Italian moratorium on GM...



Milan – One of Italy’s biggest biotech players wants to raise EUR58m to boost its pipeline of cancer therapies. The round will be closed on July 16th. With operating costs of EUR22.5m and a total loss of about EUR17m in 2009,...



Milan – Italian researchers have restored sight to blind patients using stem cells from the patients’ own bodies. In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine (10.1056/NEJMoa0905955), scientists from Modena and...



Rome/Maryland – The Vatican has taken a bold step into unchartered territory with its decision to finance new research into the potential use of adult stem cells for the treatment of intestinal disease and possibly other...

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