The European Research Council has announced the appointment of its first two Secretaries-General. Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker will hold the position from January 2007, and Professor Andreu Mas-Colell will take over in July 2009, remaining in the post until December 2011. The appointments are the outcome of a recruitment process which was conducted entirely by the ERC's Scientific Council, and the final decision was agreed by a broad consensus within the Council. Both professors have extensive experience of running leading research funding agencies covering a range of scientific disciplines. Professor Winnacker is currently President of the German Research Foundation (DFG), the largest research funding agency in Europe, and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Munich. During his three terms as President of the DFG he has overseen the introduction of a number of reforms of the organisation. He is involved in numerous scientific societies and councils, both in his native Germany and elsewhere. His research interests include virus-cell interaction, mechanisms of gene expression and prion diseases, including BSE. He was also responsible for the creation of the Gene Centre in Munich. Professor Mas-Colell is President of the European Economic Association and Professor of Economics at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. As Minister of Universities, Research and the Information Society in Catalonia he established a series of institutes, research infrastructures and an innovative publicly funded foundation for recruiting top researchers from around the world. His research covers topics ranging from abstract general equilibrium theory and the structure of financial markets to pricing policy for public firms. The Secretary General will work together with the heads of the Scientific Council and the Director of the ERC's implementation structure to oversee the implementation of the ERC strategy and work programme, as prepared by the Scientific Council. 'I am delighted that we will be able to rely on the support and advice of these two distinguished scientists and science policy leaders during the ERC's years of initial operation,' said Professor Fotis Kafatos, Chair of the ERC Scientific Council. 'The exceptional record of the Secretary General recruitments and their combined strengths in both strategy and implementation, represent an invaluable asset towards successful development of the ERC.' Scientific Council Vice-Chair Professor Helga Nowotny explained why they had selected two people for the post. 'The decision of the Scientific Council to select two consecutive highly qualified Secretaries General reflects its farsighted view and balanced assessment of what the ERC will need in the near future: the experience and strengths that both Secretaries General bring with them,' she said. European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik welcomed the appointments. 'The selection process is further demonstration of the Commission's determination to let the ERC make its own decisions, for the good of European science,' he commented. 'I look forward to working with Prof. Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker and Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell in the years ahead.'