EU support encourages students to pursue scientific careers
Europe will need at least 1 million new research jobs in the near future to meet its ambitions of being one of the most innovative regions of the planet. Therefore, young women and men wanting to become researchers are desperately needed. The European Commission encourages and fosters an understanding of science among young Europeans, and in turn helps them follow related careers. Both the ERA-NET scheme and the Article 185 Initiative are helping drive this objective.
Young scientists in Europe, including among others Finns, Hungarians, Irishmen and Irishwomen, and Israelis, are benefitting extensively from the ERA-NET scheme and the Article 185 Initiative, highlighting the transnational and cross-border flavour of European research. A case in point is the ERA-NET PATHOGENOMICS, and a Hungarian researcher who, along with his team, was recently selected on the last joint transnational call of PATHOGENOMICS. Attila Gacser is a researcher with extensive hands-on experience in participating in EU-funded research projects including ERA-NET and Marie-Curie Actions.
Dr Gacser from the Department of Microbiology at the University of Szeged in Hungary received a Marie Curie Fellowship upon completion of his PhD thesis at Szeged. He undertook postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Professor Wilhelm Scha¨fer, a researcher for Molecular Phytopathology and Genetics at the University of Hamburg in Germany. Following this period, he used his molecular and technological skills as a senior postdoctoral student in the laboratory of Dr Joshua D. Nosanchuk at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) in New York, United States.
'Dr Nosanchuk is one of the leading young scientists in the fungal pathogenesis field,' Dr Gacser tells Research Headlines. 'Hence, the Marie Curie Fellowship has provided me with wonderful opportunities to utilise and expand my knowledge of microbiology and molecular biology and engage in exciting new areas of science. A significant and highly positive contribution to my personal development as an independent scientist has arisen from my scientific career developing in Europe and in the United States, mainly with the help of the mobility programme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).'
Dr Gacser points out the different obstacles he encountered, and explains how he successfully handled them: 'I have overcome challenges in facing new work environments and managing diverse co-workers. I have been exposed to different types of higher educational systems, university cultures, and availability of scientific resources. As a result of working in different labs, I have regularly attended international conferences and frequently interacted with research groups from numerous countries.'
By pursuing and completing scientific studies, as well as attending various meetings, Dr Gacser has successfully developed important scientific friendships and collaborations. 'In addition to the mentorship and available collaborators at the University of Szeged, especially at the Department of Microbiology, with [these] mobility opportunities I established numerous collaborative researches between our research group and well-respected Hungarian and European research groups for mutual benefits,' he remarks. 'One of the most recent developments is that I became the coordinator of a consortial ERA-NET PATHOGENOMICS application, CandiCol, that was successful, and the implementation of the consortial project started in 2011.'
Dr Gacser underlines how these collaborations can widen the research repertoire of his group and lead to the concomitant progress not only of the research projects per se but of the research expertise of the group members as well. They also 'facilitate the progress of the research activity in the partner laboratories as well as in our department at the University of Szeged', he says.
PRIOMEDCHILD is also working on other key research areas tackling myriad issues including cancer, neurobiology, neonatology, rare disorders and drug development. For instance, within the PRIOMEDCHILD project is the ESNEE ('European study of neonatal exposure to excipients') initiative, which is investigating potentially toxic substances. Researchers from France, Estonia and the United Kingdom are partners.
Says Dr Mark Turner of the University of Liverpool, the coordinator of ESNEE: 'The advantage of this European approach is that we can make the most of variations between the different countries. That is the opportunity PRIOMEDCHILD has given us. Once we know more about exposure, we can look for effects and make evidence-based judgements. And again, the various networks across Europe make it easy to share our expertise with all our colleagues, thereby improving healthcare for babies in many countries.'
The ERA-NET scheme is instrumental in building the cooperation and coordination of research activities carried out at regional or national levels in EU Member States and Associated Countries, and in the mutual opening of national and regional research programmes. Its significant support of the European Research Area (ERA) is leading to better coherence and coordination of research programmes in the region. The Article 185 Initiative supports the EU in participating in the joint implementation of research and development in national programmes.