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Scientific research policy

Gender integration in Horizon 2020

Article published on the ASSET website

Gender is considered a main issue in Horizon 2020, the largest ever EU Research and Innovation programme, with €80 billion worth of funding available over seven years. The European Commission has identified seven priority areas of societal challenges, with the goal targeting investment in research in these fields. They are:

Women, science and leadership, a conversation with Ilaria Capua

It’s a question that has concerned Western society since the women’s liberation movement: is it really possible to be successful both at work and at home? When applied to women in the field of science, the question takes on various dimensions. We talked with Ilaria Capua, the Director of the Division of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie, and Member of the Italian Parliament, about this challenge, the importance teaching women leadership skills and what the world learned from the Ebola outbreak.

The Glover case. Why Europe has lost its scientific advisor

Someone could have hoped for a different end, but the signs were all clear: few days ago, Juncker made a final decision on cutting the role of the Chief Scientific Advisor at the European Commission. Apparently, this decision came after a struggle between the scientific community and some environmental NGPs, one above all, Greenpeace. But the story is more complicated, and is related to the new geopolitical axis in Europe: science has been (one of) the sacrificial victim in

Science versus politics in the European Union?

The debate on scientific advisory and future policies is becoming very harsh in the European Union. In the last weeks, an increasing numbers of contributions have created a huge debate about the necessity of a Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) at the European top decision level, as the mandate of Anne Glover is close to its end. Meanwhile, the auditions of the future Commissioners are going not so well at the EU

Adeus basic research, welcome Commissioner Moedas

The Jean-Claude Juncker's new Commission is taking shape. The first moves showed that the Barroso structure will be changed completely. This new course has invested the scientific policymaking, starting from the appointment of the new Commissioner on Science and Innovation. Rumors said that Juncker initially preferred a Portuguese woman, Maria Luis Albuquerque, Minister of Finance in Lisbon. But

Life outside universities

When is a scientist not really a scientist? This the provocation launched by Nature last week.

For many people, whoever has a PhD in Molecular Genetics or in Physics can rightfully exhibit this ‘title’. But for others, science is something that you ‘do’, not just something you learnt. According to the purists, then, those who leave the lab after a post-graduate education, in order to work somewhere else, have lost their way and have been seduced by the dark side.

Horizon 2020: the Turkish challenge

Political relations between Europe and Turkey have never been easy and even in scientific research, often over the parts, the inclusion of the Turkish Government into international dynamics represented a special case. One example of this particularity is the fact that the final agreement that allows Turkey to be among the beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 was only signed in June. “Turkey is a much valued partner. Its dynamic business environment is a perfect test bed for the development of innovative products and services – making cooperation a win-win for researchers

Populist parties and the European scientific policies

The biggest surprise in the European Parliament elections has been the victory of the so called Eurosceptic and Europhobic parties, such as the Front National (FN, from France), the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip, from Uk) or the Dutch Party for Freedom. Despite their proclaims, these parties come from different backgrounds and have a different approach to science and research – as clearly shown by an analysis made by Science|Business. In other words, the percentages in

Scientific issues in the 2014 EU Parliament elections

In May 22-25, European citizens will decide who will lead the Union for the next five years. Despite being the eighth general elections for the European Parliament since 1979, this time is particularly important. For the first time candidates for the Presidency of the European Commission had been nominated before the elections. And this means a lot.

Political Framework

Scientific misconduct in Europe: a confusing situation

Scientific misconduct is a real problem, although in many countries it is still underestimated. Fabrication or falsification of data, altered images, plagiarism and other bad practices can affect the scientific community, compromising the public's trust in scientific practice as a whole. Cases of scientific misconduct are increasing worldwide, at a rate much higher than that of global scientific production: according to a report published in

Does French research system risk to end up like in Italy?

The Scientific Council of CNRS (Comitè National de la Recherche Scientifique) has raised alert toward the political power and the civil society in France in regard to the risks that the research system is running as a consequence of poor availability of human and financial resources. This appeal/alarm is supported by two publications.

A tour through European scientific governance

European research is fundamental for guaranteeing future competitiveness to our economies, as acknowledged by all EU member States that committed to reach investments in research and development equal to 3% of GDP. Up to date, however, the funds allocated by the 28 Countries of the Union remain below the 2% of GDP and on average do not exceed 0.7% (Fig. 1). Some Nations, however, are reversing their route. In 2000, Germany and France presented similar balance sheets; ten years later, Germany remains the only country that constantly increased public funds.

Animal experimentation: Italy’s fine mess

The legislative decree recently approved by the Council of Ministers for the implementation of EU 2010/63 directive is full of holes. The European dictate that it has been quite “mistreated” by the Italian Parliament Commissions – which he had the misfortune to encounter – in particular for two “memorable” cheap shots. Poor figure apart, many are asking now if the Italian law is ready to be thrown away yet, perhaps by appealing to the European Court of Justice. Whatever the ending, however, the new law makes the practice of animal experimentation in

Europe vs Switzerland. The struggle over the H2020 program

It happened again: after the Israeli case, Horizon 2020 is anew in the middle of a political clash. This time the situation is even worse than the Israel one, both because it is within the European geographical region and because Switzerland had been a key player in the previous Seventh Framework Program. Roughly, the question is: is it fair towards EU citizens that European institutions that are based on the “free

The missing link between Ricordi and Medestea

On the stage where the so-called “Stamina case” is being performed – a tragedy disguised as a farce – reflectors have not lightened yet the female protagonists, who are still remaining in the shadows. Or maybe there is where the male actors want to keep them: the star, Davide Vannoni; his right-hand man, Marino Andolina; the deus ex machina, Gianfranco Merizzi, president of Medestea, the company holder of the proprietary rights for the so-called “Stamina method”.

Scientific research: Milan calls Europe

Milan may be considered one of the main centers of Italian research, at least in its international and cooperative dimension, as it is demonstrated by the data regarding the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) that Scienceonthenet have analyzed(1). From such data, the great research centers of Milan clearly stands out, especially in the fields of biomedicine, energy and information technology, but there are also hundreds of small enterprises that collaborate with partners from abroad, in a “Europe of knowledge” that is still to be fully discovered.

Scientific research at times of crisis

According to Patrick Cunningham, professor of animal genetics and scientific consultant for the Irish Government, research needs to be rethought by remodelling its priorities. In an article published on October, 24, on NatureCunningham underlines that we are fully in economic recession and states that the only way out is by  increasing, not diminishing,

A world of R&D: what changed since the 80s?

In three decades the world can change of a lot. And it did: Cold War ended and several others started; new nations were born while globalisation kicked in. Yet one thing didn't seem to stop: growth of research. In the history of mankind there has never been as much scientific research as there is now, with millions of scientists and several thousands of institutions working every day. But if growth of science never stopped, it sure changed how science

The CNR’s birthday

The Italian CNR - the National Research Council - will be turning 90 next November. Its President, Luigi Nicolais (a chemical engineer, also member of Gruppo 2003), last September 30 celebrated the birthday of our most important public research body at its head office in Rome with an essential, but significant, ceremony. The “birthday party”, in fact, consisted in the presentation of two works of “public communication of science” for the general audience. “It is my intention –

Bioscience in Europe, which role for Italy?

Adriano Buzzati Traverso will be remembered as scientist, professor and, above all, as manager of a research with no boundaries: during his frequent journeys abroad - on this or the other side of the Atlantic - he rapidly realized that bioscientific research in Italy had to get rid of any provincialism, empowering the exchanges with more advanced countries. Establishing the International Laboratory of

Carlo Rubbia: Nobel for interaction and science manager

The Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, is one of the most mindful political figures in regards to science and its values. And he is also extremely aware of the role played by science in our society. For these reasons, it was no surprise when he appointed Carlo Rubbia senator for life. Firstly, the particle physicist born in Gorizia the 31st March 1934 is the only “living” Italian Noble prize’s winner – since Renato Dulbecco and Rita Levi Montalcini (a senator for life herself) died last year. Of course, Riccardo Giacconi (the astrophysicist)

Elena Cattaneo senator for life: science, passion and merit

“Why should we throw away assisted fertilization embryonic cells that will never be used? Shouldn’t we utilize them for research instead?  Discarding them is not only against science, is against logic and common sense too. How would you explain it to ill people? They, especially the most unlucky, know perfectly well that research on embryonic cells will tell us if in the future we will be able to cure diseases with stem cells, in case also adult ones.

World university ranking debate

Just as happened in Italy after the VQR report has released, a counter-assessment was also given to the Jiao Tong University ranking, concerning the best universities in a global scenario, published on august 2013. "That ranking does not reflect our academic system" were the words of Genvieve Fioraso, French Minister of Higher Education and research.

The quest for quality: Telethon as a model

Telethon Scientific and Medical Committee assigned few days ago the new grants for 2013. Projects selection is extremely rigorous and articulate: Telethon, in fact, follows the same process of the US National Institute of Health, which only honours merit and is considered the best in the world. Scientific publications from Telethon Research, on average, obtain 60% more citations than the US average (based on Thomson Reuters citation-index calculations). In 22 years of activity, Telethon Foundation sponsored about

Too many researchers for China?

“Chinese Universities are getting too successful. Tell them to stop. We need workers more than graduates. Workers are not enough, whilst academics cannot find a job”. Qiang Wang - Director of the Western Research Centre for Energy and Eco-Environmental Policy at the Xinjiang Ecology and Geography Institute (Chinese Science Academy of Urumqi) - recently published on Nature his “out of the blue” appeal: China needs workers more

ERC ranking: young researchers on the run

Our youngsters are keeping up despite the mounting difficulties. Italy, however, has lost any residual appeal. The ERC junior selection for 2013 – i.e. the grants for young researchers from the European Union and associated countries, just assigned by the European Research Council – could have not been much clearer.

Horizon 2020? Better be ready

A competition was launched by the European Commission in order to find the proper name for the new integrated funding system that will follow the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for the funding of research and technological development. The chosen name, Horizon 2020, aims to represent a new perspective towards simplification and the necessity to break down those barriers that still constitute and obstacle for a single market for knowledge, research and innovation within Europe. However, this does not mean that things are going to get easy for those who want to get

Investing in knowledge to give our Country a future

On April 29 2013, Barack Obama left his busy political agenda to go to speak to the members of the National Academy of Science (NAS) at their annual meeting. He went there after being reelected to remind them that the President of the United Sates is well aware that science and technology are extremely important for America and he wanted to personally pass on this message, highlighting that in a moment of serious economic difficulty the country cannot cut research

Research policy in the USA and in Europe

The cover of Time, which at the end of last year was dedicated to Fabiola Gianotti, is certainly recognition of introductory science, or as it is known today, curiosity-driven science. Research which serves no immediate objective other than to satisfy interest and increase knowledge of natural phenomenons. The exact type of research carried out at CERN in Geneva, where

Human Brain Project: a great european challenge

The brain is probably the most complex structure in the known universe, complex enough to coordinate movements, gather and organize lots of sensorial data, perform abstract reasoning and develop new ideas. Understanding the mechanisms underlying brain function is therefore one of the biggest challenges of contemporary science. A deeper comprehension of the brain is not only a central issue for pure science but would have an enormous impact for the whole society. In fact, the knowledge of brain complex machinery will allow finding new therapies for diseases like Alzheimer or

Betting on research: here is Obama's Brain Activity Map

Who said that research does not pay? That this is not the case is demonstrated by the Human Genome Project, launched by the U.S. in 1999 at a cost of slightly less than $ 4 billion in 10 years but that, to date, has yielded $ 796 billions in business activities and has created 310,000 new jobs.
Now it is the turn of the

Research is a matter for professionals

Again this year, the Telethon marathon ensured 30 million euro (a little more is expected in June, with the closing of the balance sheet), most of which will be used to fund cutting edge research on genetic diseases. A good economic result, therefore, with some concern due to the growth in applications for grants by almost one third, many of which are polycentric. "It's a pity because we will have to be more selective, but this also shows how much potential research there is in Italy", said Francesca Pasinelli, general manager of Telethon, interviewed by Scienzainrete

Let's build a future for Italian research

The theme of scientific research has been totally neglected in the election campaign, which has paid no more than lip service to this issue. Italian scientific research needs a better future, made up of strategic investments, planning, transparency and merit-based incentives. Most of all, Italy needs a productive and competitive scientific research in order to put an end to the decline to which it is heading in the wake of the current severe economic and financial crisis. Our country needs new jobs and an economy that

What happens when a Country neglects science

At present, there is lots of focus on discussions for MIUR (Ministry of Education, Universities and Research) to establish an Agency, ANVUR (National Agency for Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes), with the objective of assessing the scientific results of various Italian research groups. There is no doubt over the importance of such activity as the Group2003 demonstrated in their constituent Manifesto and repeated multiple times.

The murder of science and the suicide of the scientists

Over the last months some epistemologically worrying events have occurred in the scientific community. The first concerns the prohibition to publish the experimental methods concerning how the virus N5H1 has been modified; the second regards published scientific papers with totally or partially non-disclosed data; and the third a potential step back with open access policies for scientific publishing.

The sweltering summer of GMOs

In a few days the European Court of Justice shall issue its ruling on lawsuit no. C--36/11, Pioneer Hi-Bred Italia Srl vs. MIPAF (Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry), which deals with the compatibility between EU and Italian legislation on the authorization to cultivate the GMO varieties included in European Common Catalogue.
The question that arises is whether Italy can deny authorization to the commercial growing of GM maize based on the justification that it has not yet established coexistence regulations between the various

Seven ideas on research for Mr. Monti

Scientific research and innovation are one of the challenges that will decide Italy's future. The 2003 Group (http://www.gruppo2003.org), which gathers scientists frequently quoted in the international scientific literature, intends to contribute with its reflections and proposals to this critical moment in the life of our Country.

Italian and British Universities (and Dickens)

I thought about what could be done usefully to compare the Italian and British Universities systems, but it’s a daunting task. But I can’t help noticing how many of your colleagues have worked at British and US universities and probably, between yourselves, you have enough insight. But there are important themes. The following is somewhat digressive and I hope some of you might have the patience to read it to the end.

Europe and sustainability: towards Horizon 2020

"The future can be yours! Last chance!" The motto of Jeffrey Goines, the character in the post-apocalyptic science fiction film Twelve Monkeys directed by Terry Gilliam in 1995, has never been more relevant. Let's see why. In 1978, the French explorer and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau proposed the idea that the interests of people not yet born had to be protected, i.e. of those who are reading this article right now, by means of a Bill of Rights of future generations. The document, ratified by UNESCO in 1991 and

European research dilemmas

The European Commission's proposal will be made public only at the end of next November. However, Nature magazine was recently able to anticipate the main news that, according to the “Bruxelles government”, will form part of Horizon 2020, the European financing program for research that, as from 2014 up to 2020, will substitute the FP7, the Seventh Framework Program which expires in 2013.

Why the Telethon method works

In his recent article on Scienzainrete, Pier Mannuccio Mannucci mentioned it as a positive example. The Gruppo 2003 also cited it as a good practice in its Manifesto for a scientific research revival in Italy. What we're talking about is the evaluation system adopted by Telethon to fund research projects.

In Italy, politics is killing science

An epidemic of politics, this is what plagues science in many countries around the world, even in mature democracies like the United States and Italy. In the U.S., President George Bush has strongly interfered with the freedom of scientific research. The same thing happened in Italy in several historical periods: immediately after the Unification of Italy, during Fascism and in the last two decades.