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The consolidation of systems biology research – stimulating the widespread adoption of systems approaches in biomedicine, biotechnology, and agri-food

Periodic Report Summary 4 - ERASYSBIO+ (The consolidation of systems biology research – stimulating the widespread adoption of systems approaches in biomedicine, biotechnology, and agri-food)

Project Context and Objectives:
Life sciences are certainly one of the most innovative and fascinating fields of research in Europe and Systems Biology clearly is a driving force in 21st century life sciences. It provides an excellent approach to understanding dynamic interactions between components of a living system, between living systems and their interaction with the environment. Addressing biological questions by integrating experiments in iterative cycles with computational modelling and simulation to test and create new hypotheses is suitable for versatile applications, e.g.: biomedicine, agri-food and biotechnology.

Project Results:
The Systems Biology call ERASysBio+ was published in October 2008 in all partner countries inviting research consortia to apply for funding. A total number of 127 pre-proposals were submitted to the call office at Project Management Juelich, Germany via a state-of-the-art electronic tool until 5th of January 2009. A peer-reviewed international scientific advisory board (SAB) evaluated all applications and recommended the top-ranked 51 joint projects for invitation to the full proposal stage. Detailed project descriptions were submitted until 4th of May 2009 for scientific evaluation. All applications were again thoroughly assessed by the reviewers. Open questions were addressed to the coordinators in a rebuttal process and were returned for the concluding full proposal evaluation meeting. As result the SAB recommended the top-ranked 20 projects for further negotiations.
Finally, with the support from the European Commission settled at 5.5 Mio Euro and national budgets of 18.5 Mio Euro the best 16 consortia were selected for funding. These projects cover a wide range of biological aspects from development to decision making, from animals to plants and from birth to apoptosis. All projects started their work synchronously on 1st of March 2010. For each consortium a short presentation is given under www.erasysbio.net.
Project coordinators, data management representatives, SAB and funding partners met on 17th-18th of May 2010 in Paris for the kick-off meeting. Following 1.5 years of scientific work, the next joint event took place on 13th -15th of September 2011 in Vienna. The scope of this mid-term meeting was to evaluate the progress of the projects on the basis of talks and posters. All groups were able to demonstrate considerable achievements and perspectives. This was confirmed at the final conference on 26th-27th June 2013 in Berlin, where project participants, SAB and funding partners met to summarise the progress and results of the consortia. Although not all projects were able to fully complete the Systems Biology circle during the funding period, the scientific quality and the number of scientific publications were found to be good. It was demonstrated that some of the research consortia already initiated further collaborations to make use of the data, methods and results developed with the ERASysBio+ funding.
Potential Impact:
It is the aim of ERASysBio+ to consolidate systems biology research by stimulating the widespread adoption of the approach in the above mentioned fields. Ten funding partners from Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Spain, the Netherlands and United Kingdom with support through the ERA-Net Plus scheme of the European Commission are committed to combine their Systems Biology research in a trans-national initiative.

List of Websites:
www.erasysbio.net