Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary - RED CAT (Natural products and related redox catalysts: basic research and applications in medicine and agriculture)

The REDCAT training network officially started on 1 December 2008. As anticipated, the first couple of months were used for networking among partners and for the recruitment of suitable early stage researchers (ESR) and experienced researchers (ER). As part of this process, vacant positions were advertised internationally by the network coordinator as well as by the individual network partners. After receiving over 2 000 applications from all over the world, a long-list of eligible candidates was compiled which was subsequently refined by the partners to yield a short-list of suitable, highly qualified candidates. These candidates were interviewed afterwards, either in person or by phone.

Among other network-related issues, the recruitment process was completed at the first network-wide gathering in March 2009 in Saarbruecken. At this meeting, the network was formally initiated. The managerial structure was established and detailed discussions related to the network's training and research programme took place. The ESR and ER positions were filled during the spring and summer of 2009, with most network trainees in place by July 2009. There were a few difficulties, such as issues related to visas and the withdrawal or initial drop-out of two trainees, but these problems were overcome swiftly and without any noticeable impact on the network as a whole or its individual training or work packages (WPs). During the second half of 2009, the first local and regional meetings took place across the network, and the individual WPs were initiated by WP meetings. At this point, the first comprehensive studies were initiated, often with two or more partners involved.

In February 2010, a special introductory meeting was held for all ESR and ER in Saarbruecken and Homburg. This meeting was also attended by most supervisors and primarily served as an introduction to the network for the ESR and ER (some of whom had not met each other before). This meeting also allowed REDCAT to deliver the first training module on 'project management and communication', which was in part assisted by external experts in the field of scientific communication. Furthermore, the February meeting enabled an extensive exchange of ideas and strategies among the various partners.

After this meeting in Saarbruecken, both training and research have truly taken off during 2010. As far as the network's training is concerned, there have been extensive activities at the local level, for instance language courses, as well as several regional / national gatherings of ESR and ER. In September / October 2010 a further network-wide meeting was held in Exeter, United Kingdom. This meeting was attended by the ESR, ER and their respective supervisors. The Exeter meeting incorporated a comprehensive training session on the topic of 'science and society', which was colourfully executed with the input of various scientists, philosophers and even artists. Training was extraordinarily well received by all attendees. Besides training, the meeting was also used to exchange and discuss research. Each ESR and ER presented her / his results obtained so far, which were discussed and used to plan the next steps ahead. The Exeter meeting also provided the opportunity to conduct some administrative network business. It also incorporated the REDCAT midterm review.

In the field of research, it is safe to state that all 4 WPs have been engaged heavily in cutting-edge research during the last 24 months. As envisaged, the individual REDCAT projects have turned out to be highly interdisciplinary in character and have allowed the individual partners to work ever more closely together. To foster this interdisciplinary research and to provide training across different European countries, numerous ESR and ER secondments have taken place during 2010. As anticipated these placements have enhanced the joint research efforts across the network and boosted the mobility and training opportunities of the individual ESR and ER. As a pleasant knock-on effect, the visiting ESR and ER have also stimulated a more general desire for mobility among the junior members of the various sending and receiving research groups.

The success in - jointly conduced - research is already evident in a rapidly growing number of (often joint) publications, which fulfils and in some particular areas, such as in WP4, even exceeds the initial expectations as defined in the network's deliverables. In other areas, such as WP1 and WP3, new and exciting research strategies, for instance based on new materials, scientific contacts or recent results, have been developed which are currently being followed up with great vigour.

In summary, the last 24 months have constituted a very successful time for the REDCAT network. Most issues have been addressed according to the initial planning and well on time. There have been very few problems, which were not entirely unanticipated and could be resolved swiftly thanks to the network's various build-in safety-nets and integrated problem-solving strategies. At present, the delivery of training is going according to plan while some areas of research even exceeding our initial expectations.

The final results one may expect will be on par with the deliverables defined initially and in some cases may even go beyond these initial expectations. This applies to the training of the ten ESR, all of which have registered for PhD degrees at excellent universities, as well as to the four ER, whose respective careers are well on their way. It also means that the REDCAT research will ultimately allow considerable progress in the field of natural products, their properties and mimics, and their applications in medicine and agriculture.

Related information

Reported by

See on map
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top