EU funding of 3,000 scientists in 6 years
A significant milestone has been reached with the 3,000th scientist to receive EU funding to pursue essential research across Europe.
Six years after being set up by the EU, the European Research Council (ERC) has marked the occasion, with a symbolic awarding of a grant to Professor Christian Keysers to further his research in the field of empathy and the brain. A ceremony took place at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam.
Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: 'This is an important milestone of the European Research Council, which has in a very short time proved to be a success story. The ERC is a brand of excellence, recognised both in Europe and further afield. The European Commission has proposed a strong "Horizon 2020" programme for 2014-20, of which the ERC will be a vital part. We would like to see a significant increase in the ERC budget to enable more researchers to pursue ideas that often spark discoveries and tackle major challenges for our society. Europe needs to keep investing in research in general, and in frontier research in particular, if it is to emerge from the economic crisis.'
Professor Keysers, who received the funding of EUR 1.8 million, is the Department Head of the Social Brain Lab at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), a purely research-based institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW). His research project, VICARIOUSBRAIN, aims to better understand the processes of empathy within our neurons.
Together with his team, he will examine how the network of regions in the brain involved in action observation - the so-called vicarious motor network - integrate information. A particular focus will be on the direction of information flow between the different vicarious motor nodes to challenge traditional models of action observation.
His research will explore how we share others' actions and emotions, examining how neurons in brain regions associated with empathy respond during the experience and witnessing of emotions.
On receiving funding for his project, Professor Christian Keysers, commented: 'To get an ERC grant is a dream come true, and being the 3,000th grantee is very inspiring. I can now devote five years to solving what I think to be the most worthy research question in my field. It allows me to handpick an outstanding multidisciplinary team and gives me the freedom to conduct the best fundamental research. In a climate where the immediate applicability of science is often valued most, the ERC has become the patron for the brightest scientists pursuing curiosity-driven research and the backbone for a Europe of Ideas. It epitomises a Europe of intellectual innovation and excellence that makes me proud to be European.'
Data Source Provider: European Research Council
Document Reference: Information based on the European Research Council
Subject Index: Scientific Research