This year sees the 10th anniversary of the European Research Council. The ERC funds scientific projects that enable Europe’s brightest minds to tackle the greatest research challenges. This is an amazing long-term funding route, that prioritises the most exciting science, even if it is risky.
Over this period, Oxford Zoology has received 15 ERC grants, totalling more than 19 million pounds. Here is what some of the recipients of this money have to say.
Tim Coulson: "My ERC grant allowed me to develop research ideas in the development of theory, on deploying biodiversity technology in the field, and in conducting laboratory experiments on populations of bulb mites. It allowed me to employ three post-docs, and gave me time to think."
Kevin Foster: “The ERC grant was critical to me returning from Harvard to the UK. It provided a way to continue and expand my research at a world class standard within Europe in way that no other scheme could.”
Ashleigh Griffin: "Support from an ERC Consolidator grant has been transformative for my lab. It has allowed me to fulfil a long-held ambition to address clinical problems of bacterial infection using an evolutionary approach to understanding how cells interact with one another. This is a significant undertaking, involving significant expansion of equipment in my lab and collaboration with other labs around the world - it just wouldn’t have been possible without the level of support that an ERC grant provides. Using my ERC funding, I have been able to offer opportunities to talented young scientists and have been incredibly lucky in building up a brilliant team to turn my research ideas into data and results. Thank you ERC!"
Sunetra Gupta: “My ERC award has been central to consolidation and development of my research over the past six years. It has given me the freedom to test some unorthodox hypotheses generated by our theoretical work, and led to some exciting new possibilities for translation into effective public health measures, including a patent for a novel influenza vaccine. Alongside, I have been able to examine some very fundamental evolutionary questions. I would like to thank the ERC for making such a wide range of scientific activities possible and for providing the flexibility to pursue them using a variety of different techniques.”
Peter Holland: “Award of an ERC Advanced Grant allowed to me tackle research questions that other potential funders had considered too risky and speculative. As might be expected, some of those lines of research did not succeed. One, however, surpassed even my own expectations, leading to exciting new insights into embryonic development with possible applications in biomedicine.”
Craig Maclean: “Obtaining an ERC Starter Grant provided me with an incredible opportunity to build up my research group and carry out risky, long-term projects that had previously been out of my reach. My project led to important advances in our understanding of the evolutionary biology of antibiotic resistance, and it established me as a leader in this field. I could not have asked for better opportunities than those provided to me by the ERC, and I think that the ERC is one of Europe’s greatest scientific assets.”
Oliver Pybus: “ERC has allowed to develop a long-term project that could revolutionise virus healthcare the world over. Instead of playing catch-up, we are looking forward five-to-10 years and developing methods for rapid intervention.”
Fritz Vollrath: “For me the ERC advanced Grant grant was a wonderful experience that enabled my group to commit to 5 yrs of top-level research free of constraining national politics and administered without excessive paperwork.”
Stuart West: “This is one of the most amazing grant schemes in the world. It allowed me to tackle exciting high-risk projects, that gave brilliant returns, but just wouldn’t be supported by national funding schemes.