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ERAatUC Report Summary

Project ID: 669088
Funded under: H2020-EU.4.c.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ERAatUC (Enhancing Research in Ageing at the University of Coimbra)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

ERA@UC (Enhancing Research in Ageing at the University of Coimbra) is a monobeneficiary project of the University of Coimbra (Faculty of Medicine) aimed to leverage the quality of fundamental research of this institution to world-leading standards, thus reducing disparities across Europe, between low-performing (such as Portugal) and high performing EU Member States.
ERA@UC has provided the recruitment of an internationally renowned scientist in the field of “Biology of Ageing”, integrated in the University of Coimbra, and of a research team composed by 7 highly differentiated elements. Together they’ll develop world-leading research, advanced teaching and foster institutional governance changes towards excellence and sustainability. Based on induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, the research will allow outstanding discoveries in ageing mechanisms and in therapies for age-related diseases.
According to the Smart Specialization Strategy of Centro Region, “Health and Wellbeing” and “Active and Healthy Ageing” are considered regional priorities. Furthermore, the University of Coimbra is a founder member of Ageing@Coimbra, a European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA) Reference Site, and an EIT Health InnoStars member of the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) in healthy living and active ageing. This strategic alignment, combined with the excellent resources of the University of Coimbra, in terms of biomedical research, advanced teaching, healthcare and innovation, especially in Ageing, Neuroscience and Vision scientific domains will continue to play major driving forces to the success and positive outcomes of ERA@UC project.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Since the beginning of the ERA@UC project, we have accomplished twelve deliverables and five milestone, as described below.

Deliverable D1.1. – ERA Chair support team in place, consisted at collecting by email the formal inclusion of all members included in the ERA Chair Support Team [EC,ST] and their acceptance regarding the tasks assigned to [EC,ST]. The eleven elements who constitute this team have accepted their inclusion in [EC,ST] and their replies were compiled in a report uploaded at the Research Participant Portal, in due time.

Deliverable D1.2. – Identification of key requirements for ERA Chair position announcement was approved by the [EC,ST], based on two proposals of the job advertisement text (to be published on EURAXESS portal and Nature and Science journals). These same key requirements were published in the phase 1 website dedicated to ERA@UC project (

Deliverable D1.3. – ERA Chair Recruitment and Monitoring Team (RMT), is formed by 4 international and 4 national renowned researchers. Working together with the [EC, ST], the [EC, RMT] are key decision committee in the recruitment of the ERA Chair holder, and in his future performance evaluations.

Deliverables D1.4. and D1.5. – Selection of best candidate for ERA Chair holder & Selection progress of the ERA Chair holder, address the recruitment process of the ERA Chair holder. The contract between the ERA Chair holder and the University of Coimbra has already been signed. To note that these deliverables marked the accomplishment of Milestone 2.

Deliverable D1.6. – Selection ERA Chair collaborator, address the recruitment of the first ERA Chair Team member. Luís Estronca has a solid profile on translational research in the field of stem cell research, thus being appointed for this position by the ERA Chair Coordinator and ERA Chair holder, as well as by the Board of Directors of the Faculty of Medicine.

Deliverable D1.7. – ERA Chair MIA International Advisory Board (IAB), includes 9 international top researchers/directors of Biology of Ageing-related Institutes (in Europe and USA). Aside from providing advice to the ERA Chair Team, they will also take part of the Evaluation Committee for the ERA@UC 3rd and 5th year reports.

Deliverable D2.1. – A one-page statement with the collection of peer-reviewed publications (in the research field of ageing) of the coordinator in high impact journals.

Deliverable D2.2. – Production of ERA Chair leaflet consisted in designing a leaflet to disseminate the ERA@UC scope, main objectives and the ERA Chair holder position announcement. The leaflet was uploaded at the Research Participant Portal and massively disseminated through the phase 1 ERA@UC website, key mailing lists, relevant meetings and other appropriate channels. Nonetheless, the leaflet was later updated due to the release of a second call on the ERA Chair holder position. This also marked the accomplishment of Milestone 6.

Deliverable D2.3 – Enclosed information on the first phase of the ERA@UC website. A temporary webpage was created inside the Faculty of Medicine website (, with essential information on the recruitment of the ERA Chair holder position, such as the description of the project, eligibility conditions and benefits, in addition to Evaluation Committee members and formula to be applied. This also completed Milestone 7. T

Deliverable D2.4. – Publication of ERA Chair position announcement, describes all ads that were published during the first call for the ERA Chair holder position, at the webpage of the Faculty of Medicine, EURAXESS, and Nature and Science Journals. This deliverable also accomplished Milestone 1. To note that D1.5. holds the advertisements on the second call.

Deliverable D2.5. – Publication of ERA Chair team position announcement, describes the recruitment process of the 6 international fellows hired under the ERA@UC project (3 MSc, 3 Postdocs). The report submitted at the Research Participants Portal includes the advertisements for the two calls (MSc and PhD holders), the evaluation and interviewing processes, as well as the CVs of all candidates. The result of the recruitment was published at the second phase ERA@UC website (, thus completing Milestone 3.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

ERA@UC project aims to reinforce and consolidate the scientific quality and performance of UC, by leveraging world-leading fundamental research in biology of ageing using simpler research models, such as the induced Pluripotent Stem Cells used by the ERA Chair Team. The ERA Chair group will also implement innovative advanced teaching programs to attract motivated and high-quality students, researchers and professors to the field of ageing research. Furthermore, ERA@UC will also promote translational research and innovation, with economic or societal added-value, based on the high level fundamental research performed by the intimate partnership with innovators and entrepreneurs, business incubators in the region (IPN and others) and SME’s.
It is expected that ERA Chair team excellence research will contribute to dramatically increase the international visibility of UC and to secure significant competitive funds, targeted to infrastructures acquisition and research development that should guarantee the sustainability of this research area, spanning beyond the five years duration of the project.
Furthermore, ERA Chair holder and his/her team are expected to engage the public into this project by organizing awareness events to the societal challenge of an ageing society and by offering media communication tools to produce press releases broadcasted by newspapers, radio/tv media.

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