Champalimaud Foundation

The Champalimaud Foundation (CF) was established in 2005 as a worldwide reference for scientific research and clinical practice. Located in a beautiful setting by the Tagus river in the city of Lisbon, Portugal, the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown (CCU) is a vibrant scientific and clinical institution where hundreds of national and international (+40 EU and non-EU nationalities) scientists, support staff, physicians, and other healthcare professionals work together to investigate fundamental biological processes and search for effective solutions to alleviate the burden of oncological and neurological diseases, while providing state-of-the-art care to patients.

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Research, developed within the Champalimaud Research (CR) programmes, is primarily focused on the fields of neuroscience, cancer and physiology. More specifically, 31 groups are dedicated to fundamental and clinical research on topics that range from Brain-wide control of Behaviour and its impacts in Artificial Intelligence /Machine Learning, to the Immune System and the interaction between Neural and Immune Systems and Disease Progression. With a community of ~500 members distributed in two big open labs (somehow similar to big media newsrooms), with access to several technical and scientific facilities, the aspiration of CR is to help scientists reach their full creative potential and to promote collective achievements beyond those reachable by individual scientists or laboratory groups. The legacy of CR will not only be advances in scientific knowledge but advances in the scientific process itself.

According to the latest European Research Council (ERC) dashboard, which comprehensively overviews ERC-funded projects, Portugal has secured funding for 165 projects since 2007 and CF leads the list of institutions in Portugal for ERC funding, both in terms of total number of grants and of overall funding. Most of our ERC grants are in Life Sciences but we also have secured grants in Social Sciences and Humanities and in Physical Sciences and Engineering.

Biology of Ageing

The Max-Planck-Institute for Biology of Ageing (MPI-AGE) aims to unravel the molecular, physiological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying the ageing process. As we age, many of our body functions decline, often accompanied by the development of complex and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. Our mission is to understand how we can intervene to mitigate or even prevent these age-related diseases and pave the way for a healthier ageing. Currently, much of the research at the institute focuses on three topics: the molecular genetics of ageing, the study of the ageing brain, and the role of mitochondria in ageing processes. In addition, research groups are investigating how DNA repair and nutrient sensing influence ageing.

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To understand these processes, the institute currently conducts work on four different model organisms: worms, fruit flies, turquoise killifish and mice. The studies on model organisms are in the long term to be linked with comparative studies in humans. To this end, we are examining samples from patients in the clinic and conducting studies on long-lived families.
Host researcher Joris Deelen focuses on the identification of the genetic mechanisms underlying healthy ageing and extended lifespan in humans. Moreover, the Deelen group aims to establish novel human ageing studies in Cologne to identify and validate biomarkers of healthy ageing.

Sustainability at the Frontier: Unveiling Nature’s Potential for Health and Food Innovations

Over 50% of the cork produced worldwide comes from Portugal. This material, used for products that range from wine stoppers to the isolation of spaceships, is at the heart of two ERC research grants developed at ITQB NOVA over the last years. The reason is that half of cork’s weight is made up of suberin, a plant polymer with remarkable antimicrobial, anti-biofouling and hydrophobic properties. Suberin can mimic natural processes and offer sustainable alternatives for combating fungal infections, as explored in the project MIMESIS – “Development of biomaterials through mimesis of plant defensive interfaces to fight wound infections”, but also for encapsulation technologies in the food and drug industries, as investigated in SNAIL – “High-performance hydrophobic suberin nanoparticles for the generation of liquid-air biphasic droplets with application in food and therapeutics”. Both projects were led by ERC Grantee Cristina Silva Pereira, head of the Applied and Environmental Mycology lab of ITQB NOVA.

ITQB NOVA is a scientific research and advanced training institute of NOVA University Lisbon. The institute is located in Oeiras, a seaside town with the highest GDP/capita and the most educated population in the country. The institution excels in Molecular Biosciences across diverse disciplines, contributing to societal challenges focused on the well-being of human societies and on the environment.

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The vision for the ERC-funded MIMESIS project was to develop wound dressing biomaterials that combine antimicrobial and skin regeneration properties. The research team successfully developed a biocompatible extraction method that preserves the plant polyesters’ antimicrobial capabilities. Building on this success, the team secured an ERC Proof of Concept Grant in 2024, for potential applications in food and therapeutics. This new project, SNAIL, explores the potential of suberin in encapsulation technologies, envisioning a sustainable shield for functional ingredients, such as probiotics and proteins. By transforming plant polyesters into purposeful biomaterials, this work represents a shift away from energy-intensive synthetic production methods, focusing instead on “closing the loop”, supported by the principles of green chemistry and biorefinery.
During the residency, the science journalist is invited to discover this research, which is not only advancing scientific frontiers but also actively contributing to a more sustainable future by having a clear focus and commitment on the translation into tangible innovations. In addition to delving into the project’s intricacies, supported by ITQB NOVA’s cutting-edge facilities, including the largest Portuguese NMR facility, CERMAX, the science journalist will have the opportunity to experience all the intricacies atmosphere of scientific exploration. This encompasses the dynamic journey of discovery, comprising both highs and lows, where breakthroughs are not confined to “Eureka” moments.

Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB)

The Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB) was created 52 years ago and was the pioneer of Spanish research institutes within a University. The IBB is located on the campus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and was previously known as the Institute of Fundamental Biology. In 2000, the Institute’s approach evolved towards a multidisciplinary and cooperative research in the area of biotechnological applications in biomedicine and consequently the name was changed. In addition, the strategic objectives of the entire unit were also reformulated, in favour of potentiating translational projects aimed at understanding the molecular bases of diseases and generating instruments, mainly drugs and vaccines, to fight them.

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Currently, the IBB hosts about 150 researchers, including tenured professors from the UAB, senior scientists, postdoctoral and doctoral fellows, master students and technicians. We host 17 research groups organized in 3 scientific programs that cover multiple scientific areas, but with a shared multidisciplinary character. This configuration allows a broad approach to biological problems and facilitates the transfer of scientific results towards the improvement of the well-being of our society. These three main research umbrella topics are: (1) Applied Proteomics and Protein Engineering, (2) Genomics in Evolution and Disease and (3) Response Mechanisms to Stress and Disease
The senior PIs of the IBB are Dr. Ventura, Villaverde, Ruiz-Herrera, Roig, Corchero, Ferrer, Ariño, Pallarès, Barbadilla, Martí, Gibert, Reverter, Yero, Cerdà, Jaraquemada, JM. Lluch, Piñol, Quijada, Cáceres, Daura, Lorenzo, Pividori, M. Lluch and Roher (Director of the IBB), offering experience in Bioinformatics, Cellular and Structural Biology, Genomics, Immunology, Microbiology, Synthetic Biology, Nanobiotechnology and Proteomics. Some areas in which our researchers work are within the fields of diagnostic tools and theragnostics, vaccine development, neurodegenerative disease detection and new treatments, immune disorders, cancer and targeted drug delivery, bacterial virulence and antibiotic resistances, biotherapeutics for several diseases, etc.

Barcelona Institute for Global Health – ISGlobal

ISGlobal addresses key global health challenges related to infectious diseases, chronic non-communicable diseases, and environmental factors, including climate. We aim to go beyond state-of-the-art by strengthening research within and across our 5 research programmes and promoting innovation and collaboration on methodological issues through cross-faculty knowledge hubs.

The Global Viral and Bacterial Infections Programme aims to reduce the relevant viral and bacterial disease burden by generating knowledge that translates into novel tools and strategies for their prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. It has a multidisciplinary and translational research portfolio ranging from basic science to clinical, epidemiological, and public health-oriented research. It works at various steps of the prevention-treatment cascade for pathogens such as M. tuberculosis, non-tuberculous Mycobacteria, antimicrobial resistant bacteria, other bacteria of public health relevance (pneumococcus, group B streptococcus, etc.), CMV, HIV, arboviruses, and viral hepatitis.

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The Environment and Health over the Life-course programme conducts high-quality integrative research to expand knowledge on the causes and mechanisms of NCDs. The programme focuses on environmental, radiation, occupational, lifestyle, social, infectious, and genetic risk factors throughout life, from prenatal to late adulthood. Key topics include respiratory, immune, and cardiovascular health, neurodevelopment, and cancer.

The Climate, Air Pollution, Nature and Urban Health programme aims to strengthen evidence related to the health effects of climate change and exposures in urban and natural environments and to assess the health co-benefits of climate action. It focuses on factors such as temperature, noise, air pollution, and green spaces, and their effect on a spectrum of health outcomes, including premature mortality, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and cognitive function. Their main methods consist of the assessment of exposure and health impact, epidemiological modelling, and intervention evaluation, complemented by computational modelling of global climate variations, tipping points, and their impact on health.

The Malaria and Neglected Parasitic Diseases programme aims to generate valuable knowledge and expand, through a multidisciplinary approach, the current scientific understanding of malaria, Chagas, and other neglected parasitic diseases (NPD) affecting humans, and their interactions with human and animal hosts and/or vectors.

The Maternal, Child and Reproductive Health programme aims to bridge the know-do gap and support the global efforts to ensure that all women and children, regardless of where they live or are born, have access to quality healthcare services. Its research focuses on developing and assessing the efficacy and effectiveness of maternal and reproductive health interventions through relevant clinical trials and implementation science.

Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics

CRAG is a public research institution with the global mission of conducting excellent research in the fields of plant sciences and agricultural and farm animal genetics and genomics.

CRAG holds the “Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence” award, the most prestigious programme of the Spanish Government to acknowledge excellence in research with international relevance.

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The research carried out at CRAG spans from basic research in plant and farm animal molecular biology, to applications of molecular approaches for breeding of species important for agriculture and food production in close collaboration with industry. Specific topics of frontier research include: genomics, plant development, plant responses to stress, plant synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, gene editing techniques, etc.

Some scientific highlights reflecting the research conducted at CRAG are listed below:

– CRAG researchers identified a new microRNA from rice which originated from a transposable element and that regulates blast resistance by DNA methylation. Moreover, they have demonstrated that the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis confers protection to the blast fungus and makes rice plants more productive. The AM symbiosis represents an alternative to the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

– The attractive colors of many flowers and fruits result from the accumulation of health-promoting carotenoid pigments in specialized cellular structures called chromoplasts. A CRAG´s teams found that chromoplasts can be artificially generated from leaf chloroplasts by using an enzyme that synthesizes the carotenoid precursor phytoene. This synthetic system allows to boost the carotenoid content of green vegetables and forage crops, hence improving their nutritional quality.

– Fruit ripening is a main target in crop breeding, having a major effect in fruit shelf life and fruit quality. Melon is an interesting model and the genetic dissection of the control of this trait may help to obtain long shelf life varieties and ultimately lead to a reduction in food loss and waste.

– CRAG researchers found that insertions of miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) are frequently associated with phenotypic variability of important agronomic traits in rice. Using MITE insertions in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) can uncover new genotype-to-phenotype associations and allow for discovering the genetic basis of important trait variability.

– The development of new plant varieties is a very slow process. CRAG researchers showed that ‘deep learning’ methods, inspired on how the human brain works, can help to improve prediction of new cultivars.

– Meat quality has an important genetic component. CRAG scientists have identified genomic regions and strong candidate genes associated with fatty acid composition in muscle and adipose tissue in pigs. These results are relevant for meat quality selection of commercial pig breeds.

Université Cote d’Azur

Université Côte d’Azur, a world-class, research-intensive, multidisciplinary university, was awarded the prestigious ‘Initiatives of Excellence’ certification label, which highlights the quality of its research and ensures that it has a high visibility international profile.

The university’s research strategy aims to create synergies between the research teams in order to explore new interdisciplinary areas while maintaining its level of excellence in academic fields. It is part of a coherent and ambitious site policy jointly developed with other players in the research, higher education and the socio-economic world. Furthemore, the research conducted at Université Côte d’Azur aims to address major challenges in science and society. It covers a broad continuum of objectives, approaches and methodologies, from basic theoretical science to targeted research.
To that end, five Interdisciplinary Academies of Excellence were created to structure our frontier research projects:

Academy 1 : Networks, Information and Digital Society
Academy 2 : Complex Systems
Academy 3 : Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience
Academy 4 : Complexity and diversity of living systems
Academy 5 : Human societies, Ideas and Environments

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Currently, we have the opportunity of welcoming over 20 ERCs on the site on very diverse disciplines : mathematics, archeology, astrophysics, seismology, cumputer science, biology. To support research Excellence, we created a specific program in partnership with the CNRS, Inria, the Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur, etc. called LEADEuRope. The program is dedicated to supporting the European dynamic of Excellence on the site.

BC3 – Basque Centre for Climate Change

The Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) is an international and multidisciplinary research institute based in the Basque Country. Since its foundation in 2008 by the Basque Government and the University of the Basque Country, BC3 belongs to the Basque Research Centres of Excellence (BERC) program.

With 120+ employees from various fields of knowledge, BC3 is a consolidated centre dedicated to the co-production of relevant knowledge for decision-making, integrating the environmental, socioeconomic and ethical dimensions of climate change. By following a transdisciplinary and participatory approach, BC3 contributes to the testing and demonstration of scalable solutions for sustainable development in collaboration with 40 international organisations and research centres in more than 20 countries. BC3 has excellent results in attracting talent (3 ERCs and 5 individual MSCAs) and securing research projects (22 European projects). Thanks to our people and partners, those who make it possible for us to achieve our goals and allow us to see ourselves as an organization unrestricted by our physical boundaries.

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Since BC3’s creation, we have sought to be a cutting-edge and motivating centre from which researchers can continue co-creating scientific knowledge, tools and methodologies on the causes and effects of climate change and contributing to solving the most pressing challenge modern humans have ever faced. Transdisciplinary research integrates knowledge through active collaboration across academic disciplines and with non-academic stakeholders.

Being a transdisciplinary researcher implies more than raising awareness through scientific evidence, it is a unique approach to engaging with different ways of knowing the world and generating new knowledge to address societal challenges. Transdisciplinarity moves us to understand the world in which we live and to find suitable and fair solutions. It brought us together to co-design and implement policies leading to sustainable development.

From Planet Earth to the Infinite Universe @ Ciências ULisboa

“What we do not know today, we will know tomorrow” (Garcia de Orta, 1563). This is the motto that guides Ciências ULisboa, the 2nd largest School of the University of Lisbon, with + 5600 students (BSc, MSc, PhD) and +500 Professors & researchers.
With +1200 international scientific articles/year, it is the ULisboa School with the highest scientific productivity per capita, raising approximately €40M/year to R&D projects. More than 90% of its R&D Units are evaluated as Excellent or Very Good by FCT. Its 10 Departments and 19 R&D Units conduct cutting-edge research addressing scientific challenges spanning from life to earth sciences, from physical and chemical to computer and mathematical sciences, from engineering to history and philosophy of sciences.
Ciências proudly hosts twelve European grants: five Marie Curies, and seven ERC grantees (4 Starting, 2 Consolidator, 1 Advanced) – of which five are currently undergoing:

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Sustainable, equitable & climate-smart marine spatial planning processes in Antarctica and beyond: Catarina Frazão Santos, ERC StG 2023, PLAnT, Planning the Sustainable Use of the Ocean in Antarctica in a context of Global Environmental Change.

How do interactions between species affect an ecosystem’s ability to recover after external disturbances? Inês Fragata, ERC StG 2022, DYNAMICTRIO, Feedback between population dynamics and evolution of interactions in a tri-trophic system.

How hard is it to find a good algorithm for a given computational problem? Bruno Loff, ERC StG 2022, HoFGA, The Hardness of Finding Good Algorithms.

Coral reefs: can we predict biodiversity changes in time and space? What are the consequences of these changes to their ecosystem functions? Maria Dornelas, ERC CoG 2021, coralINT, Integrated Niche Theory: linking environmental, compositional and functional change on coral reefs.

How did navigators of 16th and 17th centuries experience Earth observation? Henrique Leitão, ERC AdvG 2018, RUTTER, Making the Earth Global: Early Modern Nautical Rutters and the Construction of a Global Concept of the Earth.

From unearthing mysteries on our planet (Largest dinosaur skleleton in Europe might have been found in Portugal) to exploring the Universe (Portugal participates in the development of a first-class instrument for the largest telescope in the world), from the latest challenges in computer science (First open AI language model for Portuguese now available) to tackling global issues (Climate change can put the planet’s largest reserves of drinking water at risk): everyday, we challenge the limits of science and technology at Ciências ULisboa.

We aim to build bridges with society, through innovation (Filipa Rocha named finalist for the 2023 Young Inventors Award) and entrepreneurship: TecLabs, our innovation center, aggregates +29 incubated companies (e.g. R_Nuucell, a spin-off studying a potential breast cancer drug, wins Women TechEU grant).

Learn more about our vision through our institutional video.

Find out more about our research:

Largest dinosaur skleleton in Europe might have been found in Portugal
Portugal participates in the development of a first-class instrument for the largest telescope in the world
First open AI language model for Portuguese now available
Climate change can put the planet’s largest reserves of drinking water at risk
Filipa Rocha named finalist for the 2023 Young Inventors Award
R_Nuucell, a spin-off studying a potential breast cancer drug, wins Women TechEU grant
Climate extremes such as intense and prolonged droughts and intense heat waves
Natural disasters induced by major extreme climatic and meteorological events (…)
(…) and its impact on ecosystems (…)
(…) precious resources for humankind
Sustainability Living Lab
Analyzing sustainable mobility
Ecological monitoring of sources of renewable energy
Searching the Universe for exoplanets (…)
(…) and massive black holes
First-class instruments for the largest telescopes in the world
Name of one of our astrophysicists even shines in the night sky
Development of tangible tools to promote digital learning for visually impaired children
Mapping of the biodiversity that exists on green roofs and facades in cities
Role of cleaning fishes in conserving biodiversity distinguished with FLAD Science Award Atlantic 2023
Several of our researchers among the world’s top 2% scientists
Herdade da Ribeira Abaixo
Community of Science Communicators

Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid 

The Institute of Materials Science of Madrid (ICMM), belonging to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), is a world-renowned research institution committed to performing synergetic research at the cutting edge of knowledge for addressing urgent societal challenges for which having new advanced materials are essential. With over 110 staff researchers and more than 80 Ph.D. students, postdocs and tenure track investigators, ICMM is a leading center in the field of materials science and nanotechnology.

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Researchers are organized in research groups that cover from fundamental research to technological applications, aligned with three main interdisciplinary research lines related to the important social challenges included in the 2030 agenda: Materials for digital information, materials for a sustainable world and materials for health. The large number of scientists belonging to ICMM allows us to face synergetic problems, sharing cutting-edge instrumentation and expertise.
Situated within the “UAM+CSIC International Excellence Campus”, ICMM maintains a robust partnership with the “Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)”, fostering knowledge exchange and shared scientific resources. Our institute also establishes global collaborations with numerous universities and research centers, cultivating an atmosphere of dynamic scientific interchange and teamwork. We are deeply committed to internationalizing research, welcoming senior researchers, postdocs, and predoctoral visitors from around the world.

We place great emphasis on gender equality and ethical conduct in science. We promote an inclusive culture offering equal opportunities at all ranks, vigilantly mitigating any inappropriate gender-related behaviors. We encourage work-life balance, organize activities that advance ethical practices in scientific research, and diligently safeguard against any research misconduct, such as data falsification, improper authorship attribution, or inadequate data sharing. At ICMM, we not only pioneer scientific advancements but also uphold the highest standards of professional ethics and inclusivity.

List of research lines:

Materials for a Sustainable World: Materials for Energy and Materials for Environmental Remediation and Green Processes

Materials for Health: Nanoplatforms for Therapy and Diagnosis and Technologies and Instrumentation for Nanomedicine

Materials for Digital Information: Materials for Advanced Electronics and Photonics and Quantum Materials and Technologies