* International Cooperation
Science is a truly global endeavour with scientists sharing their knowledge with their colleagues around the world. Most health and bio-medical challenges are borderless and if research is to help meet those challenges, an international approach is essential. As one of the world leaders in health research, the European Union has been encouraging international cooperation for decades.
Project consortia are invited to include research partners from third countries. International cooperation under FP7 is unique in that its focus, besides combining global S&T activities, is to bring thematic and geographical goals to fruition. A number of third countries have already gone a step forward and created contact points which develop and strengthen knowledge transfer and network with the scientific communities within the EU.
Thus, international cooperation has the objectives of supporting European scientific and economic development through strategic partnerships with third countries and also addressing specific problems that third countries face or that have a global character.
The EUís research framework programmes provide a number of avenues for international cooperation:
1) Health research topics open to international applicants
2) International research initiatives (Please click on the link to read more)
Big challenges require big means
Addressing grand challenges in health research, such as cancer or rare diseases, demands substantial investment and resources that cannot be raised by a single country or region alone.
Over the last decade, the European Commission has therefore led the launch of a number of international research initiatives, in collaboration with other funders from EU member states and from countries including the USA, Canada, Japan, China, South Korea and Australia.
International research initiatives, can be established with a group of countries collaborating in international consortia, whose member organisations work toward common goals and objectives while using their own funding mechanisms and rules.
Programme level cooperation
The collaboration bringing to the establishment of international research initiatives is called programme-level cooperation. It emerges from in depth scientific discussions between funders of health research, but does not imply formal or legal settings.
Alignment, Flexibility, Commitment
Each international research initiative has its own particularities in terms of objectives, policies and membership. However, these consortia share a number of common features.
Shared strategic goals
First of all, programme-level cooperation is driven by identified needs in a given area to overcome major global health challenges.
Agreement to pool resources and develop common policies e.g. for data/standards
Once the common goals have been identified, the funding organisations and the leading scientists in a field generate a policy document containing the scientific objectives, approaches and policies that will be used by the consortium. A governance structure is also agreed between the members.
Each member uses its own funding mechanisms and timelines
Membership is associated with a commitment to fund research in line with the overall goals and policies of the initiative. Each member uses its own funding mechanisms and rules.
New members are welcome
All international research initiatives share the same flexibility with regard to the addition of new members. This flexibility to accept new members at any time is a key feature because not all organisations are ready to join at the start of an initiative due to differences in research agendas and timelines.
Click below to learn more about some examples of International Research Initiatives
International Cancer Genome Consortium aims to accelerate research into the causes and control of cancer by generating comprehensive catalogues of genomic abnormalities in cancer tumours.
International Human Epigenome Consortium aims to understand the role of the human epiginome in the maintenance of health and causation of disease by providing 1000 high-resolution reference epigenome maps to the research community.
International Human Microbiome Consortium aims to understand the role of the human microbiome in the maintenance of health and causation of disease and to use that knowledge to improve the ability to prevent and treat disease.
International Knock-Out Mouse Consortium aims to mutate one by one, all protein-coding and small RNA genes in the mouse, leading to a better understanding of gene functions in human diseases.
International Rare Diseases Research Consortium aims to deliver 200 new therapies for rare diseases and means to diagnose most rare diseases by the year 2020.
3) Specific International Cooperation Actions (SICAs)
4) Other forms of international collaborations
World RePORT: An International Research Database for Africa (Please click on the link to read more)
Over the past decade, global concern to address the disproportionate burden of disease and mortality in low-income countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, has led to a substantial influx of funding for research by many donor and research agencies addressing particularly HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected infectious diseases. This support has been uneven, and health ministries in some sub-Saharan African countries have been overwhelmed with many donors seeking to fund research activities, while neighbouring countries with an equally large burden of disease have suffered from a relative paucity of funding. The heads of nine major research funding organizations (USA National Institutes of Health, Canadian Institute for Health Research, DG Research and Innovation of European Commission, Max Planck Society, UK Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Pasteur Institute and Swedish International Development Agency) have recognized the need to develop a public tool to track these international research activities and investments and to share results. The World RePORT is a search tool that should allow to better understand the landscape of research, identify gaps in funding and areas where there may be a duplication of effort, and work more effectively to synergize investments. They encourage other governments, NGOs, and philanthropic funding agencies to join the effort and to expand World RePORT. The World RePORT is currently hosted at NIH and managed through a Steering Committee of those agencies providing data.