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CRG International Research Postdoctoral Programme

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INTREPiD (CRG International Research Postdoctoral Programme)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2019-08-31

The proposed “CRG INTernational REsearch PostDoctoral Programme” (INTREPiD) builds on two previously awarded Fellowship Programmes: the “International Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Programme (InterPod) that run from 2010 to 2014, and the “CRG International Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme in Life Sciences” (ImPuLSe) that is still running since 2014 until 2018, both co-funded by the FP7 COFUND scheme. The CRG is an international biomedical research institute of excellence with strengths in Systems Biology, Cell Biology, Stem Cells, Cancer, Epigenetics, Somatic cell reprogramming, Genetic Diseases and Bioinformatics. As a unique international research institute (64% of non-Spanish research staff), it draws on the organisational model similar to European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and holds a strategic partnership with them.

INTREPiD aims at enabling outstanding junior scientists of all nationalities to develop a competitive research project at the CRG, participate in a comprehensive training and career development programme, that will also facilitate transnational and inter- sectorial mobility, and finally develop their leadership skills to enhance their career perspectives and to significantly increase science impact on society. The Programme fellows will benefit from an exciting international scientific environment and an integrated interdisciplinary training programme, including access to state of the art infrastructure, mentoring, lectures and seminars, specialised scientific and technological courses, complementary and soft skills training and career development activities, postdoctoral symposia and retreats, as well as social activities.

The implementation of a structured recruitment system coupled with an internationally-open and transparent evaluation process and internal quality reviews, as ensured by supervision of the Postdoc Committee, daily implementation of the programme by the Academic Office and support by the Grants Office in financial management, reporting and ethical compliance has undoubtedly strengthened the international positioning and reputation of the institute as a gateway for high-quality researchers and a nurturing environment for state-to-the-art science. As a result of the selection process, 11 research groups have benefited from the integration of the fellows and integration of their promising research lines. The host groups are distributed across the four research programmes existing in the institute.

Dissemination of the calls

The dissemination activities cover the period from the opening of the Expression of Interest on the Group Leaders side to the Call Deadline for candidates. INTREPiD’s promotion approach for the call has been two-fold: first, an internal dissemination strategy was developed to reach out to a maximum number of CRG researchers (expression of interest). Second, promotion strategy to reach out to potentially interested candidates in order to recruit highly motivated and talented candidates from all over the world.

Evaluation and Selection

The selection of the fellows was based on scientific excellence following an international peer review and in an open and transparent selection process, as described in Annex I, and summarized below:

1. Eligibility check: After the call deadline, the applications received were revised by the CRG Academic & COFUND Coordinator against the eligibility criteria defined in Annex I and in the call text. After performing the internal eligibility check, submitted applications which did not meet the eligibility criteria listed above were rejected. Non-eligible candidates were informed of the ground of such decision.

2. Pre-selection (CV evaluation): CV check by the CRG Postdoctoral Committee members and the Group Leaders who participated to the call according to the following criteria: number and relevance of publications, fellowships obtained under competitive calls, participation in international meetings, reference letters and other merits such as teaching, mobility experiences (geographical, intersectorial, etc.) and knowledge transfer.

3. Evaluation of projects: Pre-selected candidates were invited to write a 3-page scientific project. Non-preselected candidates were informed of the ground of such decision. Each project (including the CVs) were evaluated by 2 external remote evaluators, selected from a pool of remote evaluators on the basis of their competence in the scientific area of the proposals. Before distributing the files of the candidates to the remote evaluators, all of them read and signed the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Statement document.

4. Oral interviews: Short-listed candidates for the interviews visited the CRG for a two-day interview. Candidates met their prospective supervisors, visited the CRG premises and presented their projects in a short open talk followed by a panel interview. Before distributing the files of the candidates to the Panel Members, all of them read and signed the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Statement document.

The selection panel was composed of 1 internal member (chair) to keep the standards and quality of the CRG selection processes, and 3 external members, as stated in Annex I, covering the expertise of all the proposals ( 2 men and 2 women)

5. Communication of final results: Selected and non-selected candidates were informed on the outcome of the selection process and provided with the Selection Panel comments on the project defense and their interview performance.

Ethical issues

After the selection process and the consensus meeting after Call 1 and Call 2, the 11 top ranked proposals (also those with no declared ethical issues in the proposal) were sent to the ethical experts for an ethical screening.
In 6 projects, no sensitive ethical issues were identified. For the 5 proposals with ethical issues during the ethical screening, the ethical experts have drafted Ethical Reviews (further details included in the Delivarables D.4.1 and D4.2) The details on the issues to be addressed and needed approvals from the relevant Ethics Committees.
The INTREPiD Programme will represent a step-forward in training the next-generation of scientists, offering international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial training and mobility opportunities in a highly dynamic and creative environment. Improvements proposed in the INTREPiD Programme will also be implemented in the CRG International Postdoctoral Programme, thus having a significant impact on the CRG postdoctoral community as a whole.

The INTREPiD programme will strive to produce long-term impact on the selected fellows. The comprehensive training and mobility programme will enhance the career prospects of the researchers to attain leading positions, in academia, industry or other sectors, working for example with top-class research groups and/or institutions worldwide with the provision of favourable working conditions, including a more permanent position. The programme will also have an impact at regional, national and international level, thanks to the collaboration of 9 partner organizations from different disciplines, sectors and countries.