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CRG International Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme in Life Sciences

Final Report Summary - IMPULSE (CRG International Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme in Life Sciences)

ImPuLSe is an International Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme, co-funded by the European Commission under the FP7 COFUND scheme. The goal of this incoming mobility Programme created in 2014 was to provide highly talented postdocs the opportunity to increase their trans-national mobility and advance their career development. Initially, the Programme offered 12 positions but finally, and in order to keep the quality of the Programme, only 11 fellowships were awarded. The selection of the fellows was merit-based, founded on international peer review in an open and transparent selection procedure.
Given the extensive experience of the CRG in managing the International PhD Fellowship Programme for more than 10 years, a previous COFUND Programme (INTERPOD) and given the management expertise of the personnel involved in the programme, the ImPuLSe calls were prepared and implemented very smoothly, and with only minor deviations as described in detail in the corresponding periodic reports.
In the proposal we carried out an evaluation of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in the programme. As far as weaknesses are concerned, we identified as the major weakness the delay of the launch of the first call for one year due to the drop out of our industrial partner shortly before the signature of the Partnership Agreement. We were not allowed to ask for a project extension at such an early stage of the project and therefore we re-adapted the timeline of the call according to the delay to minimize the impact. On the other side, the programme relied on many strengths (excellent and dynamic scientific environment at CRG/PRBB, extensive experience in managing similar programmes, excellent employment conditions and added value-interdisciplinary nature of the programme and INTERVALS training programme offering a wide range of courses on career development). The international and interdisciplinary nature of the scientific programmes involved in the ImPuLSe programme was both an added value and a threat, because candidates had to work on an interdisciplinary environment (i.e. combining experimental and bioinformatics labs) which reduced the number of candidates applying for the programme and the pre-selected candidates given the size of the institute and the number of experimental and bioinformatics labs.
The major threat of the programme have been the low number of quality applications reaching the last stage of the selection process that limited the number of the applications. The number of applications received in the 2 calls organized was smaller than expected. Therefore, all positions available for each call were not covered.
During the first 2 years of the programme, 2 calls were launched to cover 12 positions; 7 positions were awarded in the first call (2014) following the recommendation by the external evaluation panel. The call received 59 applications (over 20 nationalities). The second ImPuLSe call in 2015 attracted 58 applications for 5 positons. 5 postdoctoral contracts were awarded by the external panel (1 position was finally not accepted and not covered since the panel of experts considered there were no exceptional candidate on the reserve list).

ImPuLSe fellows joined the CRG International Postdoctoral Programme, which currently hosts more than 100 postdocs supported by internal and competitive funding from highly prestigious institutions. Fellows benefited from a broad range of high profile CRG/PRBB seminars and conferences with invited speakers and internal seminars (such as data and journal clubs) and practical training courses. Complementary skills and career development courses have been provided by the successful Career Development Programme INTERVALS open to PRBB residents. The courses offered range from grant and scientific writing to leadership, methodology of biomedical publications, job opportunities in science related sectors and intellectual property. Additional non-scientific courses are also offered by the CRG: language courses, biosafety training and a course on scientific poster making. The training offer has been expanding since 2015 to scientific and technological courses, as well as career development and complementary skills. (http://www.crg.eu/content/training/courses-0)

The ImPuLSe has been an excellent opportunity for the CRG continue with an internationally recognized postdoctoral fellowship programme with a highly competitive selection process based on scientific excellence to attract the best talents worldwide. It has also contributed to promote the mobility within the European Research Area, improving the working and employment conditions of researchers and advancing in their career development, as well as in increasing the visibility of the CRG at the international level.

Project Public Website: https://www.crg.eu/impulse_fellowships