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ERA-NET on cardiovascular diseases to implement joint transnational research projects and set up international cooperations

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ERA-CVD (ERA-NET on cardiovascular diseases to implement joint transnational research projects and set up international cooperations)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2016-07-31

Among non-communicable diseases cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the major cause of death in Europe, claiming more than 4 million people per year in the 53 member states of the WHO European Region and around 2 million in the European Union (EU). Recent data indicate that up to 80% of all healthcare expenditure in Europe is allocated to chronic diseases, with CVD alone being estimated to cost the European economy more than 196 billion € every year.

An effective coordination of research at national and EU level, increased cross-disciplinary interaction and research advancements are urgently needed. By gathering their forces, funding capacities and information about ongoing activities so far 23 funding organisations from 18 countries tackle this challenge by setting up a new ERA-Net Cofund action (European Research Area Network co-funded by the European Commission) dedicated to cardiovascular diseases (ERA-CVD, webpage: www.era-cvd.eu).

The major aim for ERA-CVD is to develop and publish Joint Transnational Calls bringing together the best researchers from the participating countries. One call will be specifically dedicated to young scientists. ERA-CVD cooperates with the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Heart Network (EHN) in order to enhance an overarching network and knowledge exchange. Moreover, the exchange and collaboration with European Research Infrastructures, e.g. the ESFRI-initiatives is intended to set up an efficient European framework for innovative transnational research on CVD and international collaborations.
Explanation of the work carried out by the beneficiaries and Overview of the Progress

The ERA-CVD consortium comprises 23 institutions from 18 European, associated and non-European countries. As the cardiovascular research field can only be tackled from a global perspective, the consortium will aim at extending the collaborations into an international dimension not only in terms of partners but also by setting up collaborations with international initiatives. With the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan a first international partner already joined the ERA-CVD as a third country participant. Additionally, there has been contact to the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health of the CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research), which is interested to join the ERA-CVD for one of the planned non-co-funded JTCs. In general, the consortium will aim to set up further European and international contacts as well as collaborations.
The main objectives of ERA-CVD are divided into two types of activities. Part A comprises activities related the co-funded call (JTC2016, work packages, WP1-5). Part B describes additional activities related to CVD research (work packages, WP6-9, including the non-co-funded calls JTC2017-2019).

Part A: Activities related to the co-funded Joint Transnational Call (JTC2016) and the consortium Management

• The ERA-CVD project comprises 23 partners from 18 countries; the recruitment of further partners is ongoing. The management structures were tailored to collaborate efficiently with the cardiovascular research funding organizations of European, associated and third partner countries (WP1). An article on ERA CVD was published in June 2016 and a Newsletter produced by CSO-MOH in August 2016.

• The co-funded call was organized in 2016 (JTC2016; WP2 and WP3). This call combined budget contributions from the participating national funders and the European Commission in order to maximize the synergies of funding transnational research projects.

• Co-funded projects will be monitored and assessed through the activities delineated in WP4. Indicators and questionnaires were developed and consented.

• WP5 is responsible for preparing and supporting the dissemination strategy for the launch of the co-funded call as well as the results of the funded research projects.

Part B describes additional activities related to CVD Research

• The ERA-CVD partners are in the process of developing the upcoming JTC topics, mainly for JTC2017, which is planned to be published in January 2017.

• Furthermore discussions with the External Advisory Board and the ERA-CVD partners started to develop a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for the areas of CVD.
ERA-CVD is expected to have an impact on national and transnational programmes as well as a leverage effect on European research and competitiveness in the general context of CVD. More particularly, the expected impacts and how ERA-CVD will contribute to them are the following:

• Coordination of national and transnational research in the field of CVD will result in a substantial contribution to the overall goals of Horizon 2020. ERA-CVD will be a major contributor to transnational research on CVD. Beside the co-funded JTC2016 up to three non-co-funded calls (JTC2017-2019) are envisaged within the project time of five years. ERA-CVD will be an efficient tool for creating an important piece for the idea of a European Research Area.

• ERA-CVD will encourage data sharing and use of Open Source publication directly in the call documents. In order to avoid overlapping as well as for efficient use of funds and sustainability of resources, ERA-CVD will explore possible solutions and connections to the European research infrastructures, for example EATRIS, ECRIN, EU-OPENSCREEN, BBMRI or Infrafrontier.

• The consortium aims to inform and train funded researchers about intellectual property rights (IPR) management, administrative hurdles and sharing of resources, data and knowledge. In addition, ERA-CVD plans to utilize the already existing data and analyses e.g. to avoid duplication and to identify funding gaps. The webpage will be a core instrument to inform about activities of ERA-CVD and to share data and knowledge with the research community, the funded researchers, stakeholders and the general public. It is planned that funded consortia/projects are encouraged to share results, data and information via the webpage. Furthermore, a “Looking for collaboration” partnering platform for scientists will be developed. It will enable potential applicants to find collaborators worldwide and will increase the potential for researchers to form or join transnational consortia.

• ERA-CVD will contribute to the streamlining of national/regional and international practices in organizing research funding. Based upon experiences made within other ERA-Nets knowledge obtained on funding procedures, submission system, evaluation and selection process will be used to organize research funding among ERA-CVD partners. The experience of partners who have been in charge of the management of the Joint Call Secretariat in other ERA-Nets will be exploited to efficiently and in a short timeframe set up a highly competitive selection process based upon a common international peer-review board. Furthermore, ERA-CVD will create synergies between public authorities and civil society through the involvement of patients’ organizations in coordinated research funding, e.g. by nomination of representatives into the EAB and the SEB as well as invitation to workshops/symposia.

• ERA-CVD activities will support capacity building. It will positively impact the quality of translational cardiovascular research and the efficiency of the translational research process. On the long run, the capacity building activities are expected to accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into novel and more effective and selective interventions in prevention, diagnosis and therapy, as well as their evaluation in the clinical setting. Thus, in turn, ERA-CVD funded projects will more rapidly generate new research hypotheses, responding to the urgent need of fuelling the “bench-to-bedside” direction of translational CVD research. This will be supported by building up linkages between industry and academic/clinical research via the involvement of agencies dedicated specifically to funding of public-private partnerships.

• ERA-CVD will prioritize transnational research by identifying research topics for JTC2016 and following, which need to be addressed at transnational level. Topics for the JTCs will be identified and selected on the basis of the input and discussion with the EAB with respect to the foreseen added value of transnational research. ERA-CVD partners will take care that the topics will be in accordance with the goals of the Horion2020 Challenge “Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing”, complementary to topics of the EC work programmes as well as to national strategies. Already during the proposal preparation the designated ERA-CVD partners discussed potential topics with independent scientific experts in the area of cardiovascular research.

• The close collaboration with the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and voluntary health organizations will enable more accurate definition of specific needs and gaps in CVD research on one hand and broad dissemination of research outcomes on the other hand. Thus, indirectly, ERA-CVD will also contribute to the improvement of health care and patient’s wellbeing.

• To increase the excellence in research stems from competition and collaboration among scientists it is crucial for public authorities, research-funding agencies, public and private research institutes and universities to support the exchange and work across borders. Creating and promoting opportunities for cooperation with the best scientist and research infrastructures in the world is the major aim of ERA-CVD. Through its funding, ERA-CVD will also seek to support exchange and training of young scientists, clinicians and post-docs in the diverse fields of cardiovascular research (e.g. JTC specifically dedicated to young scientists).

• ERA-CVD will increase the leverage of transnational excellent research with added value in the area of cardiovascular diseases.