René Medema appointed new chair of EU-LIFE

Professor René Medema, Director of Research of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, has been appointed the new chair of EU-LIFE, an alliance of thirteen leading life science institutes in Europe, as of 1 January 2020.

EU-LIFE: advocating for excellent research in Europe

EU-LIFE was set up in 2013 to unite forces working on excellence in the life sciences, giving high regard to responsible science – such as assuring a good gender balance within the European research area. The other central mission of EU-LIFE is to influence the European research agenda with the motto: today’s discoveries are the foundation of tomorrow’s European prosperity and well-being. The Netherlands Cancer Institute is the only Dutch research institute that is a member of EU-LIFE.

René Medema: “In recent years EU-LIFE has developed into an important and vocal representative of European research institutes in the life sciences. Thanks to EU-LIFE we have gained a voice that is heard in Brussels. In the coming years we will be doing everything we can to ensure that they are listening.”

Horizon Europe: invest in fundamental research
An important item on the EU-LIFE agenda is Horizon Europe, the new European framework programme for research and innovation (2021–2027), for which preparations are in full swing. EU-LIFE has been advocating for a doubling of the R&I budget with respect to the current programme, Horizon 2020.

Earlier this year an EU-LIFE position paper strongly urged the European Commission to use Horizon Europe to invest more in collaborative research directed towards unravelling the fundamental biological mechanisms underlying disease, health and medicine. This is often long-term research that has a potentially enormous impact, although its precise outcomes are unpredictable. EU-LIFE’s own research has shown that funding opportunities in European framework programmes for collaboration in fundamental biomedical research have fallen by 60% since 2007, even though the overall research budget has grown.

René Medema
The cell biologist Professor René Medema has been the director of research and chair of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Cancer Institute’s comprehensive cancer centre since 2012. Medema leads his own cell biology research group there, and is also professor of Experimental Oncology at Utrecht University / UMCU.

As chair of EU-LIFE, Medema succeeds Genevieve Almouzni from the Institut Curie in Paris, and a member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council. As of 1 January EU-LIFE will also have a new vice-chair, Professor Mónica Bettencourt Dias of the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal. Together with Marta Agostinho, EU-LIFE Coordinator, they will overview the EU-LIFE strategy for the next 2 years and build on the important role of EU-LIFE as a unique alliance of independent research institutes across Europe.

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