EU gives US scientists a piece of the pie

November - December, 2008  |  Volume 7, Issue 6

An agreement announced by former NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni just before his departure will make it easier for U.S. scientists to participate in international collaborations funded by the European Commission.

In a joint letter to the editor of Science Magazine, Zerhouni and his counterpart, Dr. Janez Potocnik, commissioner for science and research for the European Union, announced elimination of ambiguous wording in the Europeans' rules that had limited American participation in joint studies to those funded only by U.S. dollars. See the Guest Opinion article.

As a result, American scientists will, for the first time, not only be eligible to participate in European Commission-supported research projects, but also receive funds from the EC if they are part of a consortium with European Union investigators.

For years, European researchers have been able to compete for NIH biomedical and behavioral research grants directly and in joint projects with Americans.

Dr. James Herrington, head of Fogarty's Division of International Relations, estimated that as much as $7 billion would be potentially available to American scientists. "This isn't just about leveling the playing field, but about recognizing that research is increasingly complex and reliant on cooperation across disciplines and across borders," he said.

Zerhouni and Potocnik characterized the agreement as one "to reinforce our mutual interest in scientific collaboration. We believe that greater trans-Atlantic cooperation and smarter competition in science will lead to faster breakthroughs in health research, and ultimately to a better quality of life for the citizens of the world."

For information on EU research and funding opportunities, visit http://cordis.europa.eu/home_en.html.

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