Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - RESPIRE 2 (REspiratory Science Promoted by International Research Exchanges 2)

The European Respiratory Society (ERS – ) is an international organisation that brings together physicians, healthcare professionals, scientists and other experts working in respiratory medicine. It is one of the leading medical organisations in the respiratory field, with a growing membership representing over 160 countries. Its mission is to promote lung health in order to alleviate suffering from disease and drive standards for respiratory medicine globally.
Chronic diseases, including respiratory ones, were recognised as a priority under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) as they present considerable social and economic costs. According to the European Lung White Book (, one in eight people in Europe dies due to lung diseases – this means one person every minute. This includes well known diseases like asthma and lung cancer as well as other less known ones such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

ERS aims to achieve its core mission of promoting excellence in respiratory science through a range of scientific activities. In particular, it has been offering a broad portfolio of fellowships since 1998. RESPIRE2 (PCOFUNDGA-2012-600368) represented ERS’ flagship fellowship programme during the period 2013-2018 and received co-funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under the Marie Curie Actions.

This programme of incoming fellowships played an instrumental role in helping to address chronic lung diseases by:
• Targeting postdoctoral researchers from any discipline, with the potential to become the leading scientists of tomorrow in the respiratory field;
• Enabling the delivery of advanced 24-month research projects of scientific excellence at leading European host centres in line with the ERS Roadmap (;
• Providing fellows with high-quality research environments, working conditions as well as career development support; and
• Promoting the European Research Area (ERA) through fostering transnational mobility and collaborative scientific networks/exchanges, while retaining expertise in Europe.

RESPIRE2 represented a strategic commitment by the Society in order to expand significantly its investment in training postdoctoral researchers from any disciplines, even those not traditionally associated with respiratory research. It targeted experienced researchers who undertook their fellowship research projects and developed their careers at pre-registered RESPIRE2 host centres in Europe. It built on the previous RESPIRE1 Fellowship Programme (2009-2013), while bringing in innovative elements (e.g. mentoring, dedicated Web Host Registry) and better conditions for fellows (e.g. funding over two years, travel and mobility allowance). Building on the evaluation and lessons learnt of RESPIRE2, ERS launched the new RESPIRE3 programme in 2016 thanks to EU Horizon2020 co-funding.

The objectives of the RESPIRE2 programme were successfully achieved by its completion in June 2018. Twenty-two potential leaders of tomorrow in respiratory research were identified, supported and trained. Moreover, the research projects delivered contributed to advancing knowledge and understanding in a number of key illnesses, with benefits for clinicians, patients and wider society. This contributed towards addressing the burden of respiratory diseases which exceeds €380 billion yearly in Europe.

The main achievements of RESPIRE2 are highlighted below, in particular with reference to Key Performance Indicators (KPI) identified in the Grant Agreement.
• A dedicated, innovative online RESPIRE2 Web Registry was developed, listing 65 pre-registered centres from the respiratory discipline and beyond. This Web Registry has now been adapted and expanded for the purposes of the new RESPIRE3 programme.
• The open, transparent, equitable evaluation process for the three RESPIRE2 calls delivered, was further enhanced by the introduced of interviews.
• 13 Marie Curie fellows (KPI: 12) with 24-month research projects were identified, via three calls for applications, and started the fellowship at 12 leading European research centres. In addition, due to the high quality of candidates, an additional 9 RESPIRE2 fellows (non Marie Curie fellows) were fully funded by ERS.
• In total, 22 research projects (of which 13 co-funded via FP7) were selected for funding, advancing knowledge and understanding in the respiratory domain with regard to a number of chronic diseases (e.g. lung cancer, asthma, COPD, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung disease) with potential implications on clinical practice and ultimately the quality of life of EU citizens and beyond.
• The whole RESPIRE2 programme has led to: four permanent positions (two in academia, two in industry) and 12 fellows returning to the home country, staying at the host centre or with fixed-term positions in industry. Furthermore, five fellows are currently completing their fellowship extensions (funded by ERS) until the 2nd half of 2018.
• A pilot mentoring scheme was launched for the first time by ERS thanks to RESPIRE2. A system for fellows to request fellowship extensions was also established, in order to enable additional time to complete the research project and plan the next career step.
• All KPIs (Grant Agreement) were largely exceeded as of summer 2018. For instance, 126 manuscripts were published, 161 presentations at Congresses and other events were delivered while 28 research awards were attained by the 22 fellows (13 Marie Curie, 9 ERS-funded).
• Moreover, 75 international collaborations were developed as a part of the fellowship, fostering new collaborations among centres of excellence in and outside of Europe. This is facilitating the creation of Pan-European and international networks around specific chronic diseases, in line with the objectives of the ERA.
• Specific tools such as a dedicated RESPIRE video, case-studies as well as journal editorials were put together for dissemination purposes along with social media promotional activities.
• An interim evaluation (2015) as well as impact assessment (2018) were carried out and highlighted that the programme successfully achieved its objective of training the leaders of tomorrow in respiratory research. RESPIRE2 fellows who participated in the survey highlighted that they would recommend the programme and rated the fellowship excellent or very good in their reports.
• Past fellows, such as RESPIRE1 Marie Curie fellows, have been actively involved in the implementation of RESPIRE2 in different functions (e.g. peer-review, mentoring, interviews). RESPIRE2 fellows who have completed the fellowship are now directly involved in ERS’ structures, notably through the ERS Fellowships & Awards Working Group, the ERS College of Experts and other activities (e.g. task forces, research seminars), depending on their area of expertise.

For further information, please visit the RESPIRE2 website ( or contact the dedicated Helpdesk (

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