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 https://youtu.be/2_MA3CujocU?feature=shared
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

Bioengineering for the future of medicine

Established in 2005, the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) is a leading-edge multidisciplinary research centre in Barcelona. It conducts excellent interdisciplinary research at the frontiers of basic and life sciences linked with engineering to generate new knowledge and applications by putting together biophysics, cell engineering, nanomedicine, biomaterials, tissue engineering and the applications of information technology to health.​Researchers at IBEC participate in innovative work in areas such as bioelectronics, regenerative medicine, and biomechanics, seeking innovative solutions to improve healthcare and quality of life.The institute promotes a collaborative environment, encouraging scientists to explore new ideas and collaborate across disciplines.
​This new knowledge has been applied during the last years to the advanced technological challenges (ATCs) such as biofabrication for tailored advanced therapies and regeneration and bioengineered living systems, as well as to the advanced societal health challenges (SHCs) such as bioengineering for cancer diagnosis and prognosis; bioengineering for healthy ageing; bioengineering for rare diseases treatments; and bioengineering against COVID-19, added due to the pandemic outbreak. IBEC has gained global recognition with impactful publications and projects.

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IBEC’s 2024-2027 scientific program focuses on 5 breakthrough scientific-technological areas to develop knowledge and technologies to answer fundamental biological questions and facilitate the uptake of Precision Medicine, Advanced and Emergent therapies and address Global Health and Pandemics. Our vision is conducting pioneering, high-impact basic and applied research addressing unmet biomedical needs through interdisciplinary bioengineering innovations. Our methodology involves fundamental, multi-disciplinary investigations to understand biological systems quantitatively from molecule, cell, tissue, organ to system levels to develop devices, therapies, and protocols leading to better diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of human diseases and improving quality of life.
​IBEC’s 5 Breakthrough Focus Areas:
​1-New information and data with advanced microscopy, imaging and biological ​mapping-G.Gomila,P. Gorostiza,G. Battaglia,I.Marco-Rius,B.Bolognesi,X. Rovira
​2-Engineering of molecular systems based on biological self-assembling, synthetic ​biology and nanomedicine for advanced therapeutic systems-S.Sánchez, S. Muro, ​E.Torrents, X.Fernández-Busquets,C. Rodríguez-Emmenegger
​3-Physical forces in Biology: tissue, cell and molecular mechanobiology-X.Trepat, P.​Roca-Cusachs, M.Salmerón-Sánchez
​4-Preserving, regenerating and fabricating human organs and tissues: Biomodels and ​tissue engineering-E. Martínez,E.Engel, N.Montserrat, J.A. del Río, Z. Álvarez
​5-Ubiquitous sensors, engineered living sensors and smart data analysis: ​Bioelectronic and biomedical signal processing-J. Samitier, J. Ramón, R. Jané, S. ​Marco

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies

The mission of the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS) is to advance the highest quality research at Aarhus University (AU) by attracting talented, highly qualified fellows worldwide and within all disciplines. Fellows are provided ideal opportunities to further develop their research in short to long fellowship periods by ensuring fellows’ participation in various kinds of collaboration and exchange with researchers, research groups and advanced students at AU and abroad. The primary criterion for selection of fellows is excellence and not research topic. Therefore, fellows represent a broad scope of academic disciplines and are hereby contributing to the multidisciplinary setting of the Institute. Fellows are encouraged to engage with each other and with local researchers. We strive for diversity in all ways, and host fellows and researchers from all disciplines and nationalities.

ERC@UC Science Journalism Initiative

Research Projects at UC:

  • Dulce Freire, Rural History, Starting Grant (StG), SH3, ERC-2017-STG, ReSEED, Rescuing seeds’ heritage: engaging in a new framework of agriculture and innovation since the 18th century. Hosting conditions: Image/ video journalist for 5 months in early 2024;
  • Jorge Almeida, Cognitive Neurosciences, Starting Grant (StG), SH4, ERC-2018-STG, ContentMAP, Contentotopic mapping: the topographical organization of object knowledge in the brain. Hosting conditions: 1st semester of 2024;
  • Bárbara Gomes, End of life care, Starting Grant (StG), SH3, ERC-2020-STG, EOLinPLACE, Choice of where we die: a classification reform to discern diversity in individual end-of-life pathways. Hosting conditions: Oct 2024 – Feb 2025 would be good for us but can also consider other later dates.
  • Leona Polyanskaya, Multilingualism, Starting Grant (StG), SH4, ERC-2021-STG, TypoMetaLing, Effect of linguistic experience on metacognition in language tasks and transfer to non-linguistic behaviour. Hosting conditions: April-June 2024 or September-December 2024.

Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

We are a public university, founded on 6 August 1868 as Scuola Superiore di Commercio. We have reached a high national and international standing with the quality of our research and teaching, which reaches across countries and disciplines. Our university community includes over 23.000 students and 1.400 faculty and staff from all over the world. The main campus is in a large Gothic palace in the heart of Venice, overlooking the Grand Canal, and other venues are spread across the historic centre of Venice, plus Mestre and Treviso.

We contribute to scientific progress through excellent research that addresses global challenges and has an impact across disciplines. We promote frontier research with the active application of the hard sciences and digital sciences to the centuries-old tradition rooted in the social sciences, humanities, and economics. We are among the top institutions in Europe for the number of Marie Curie fellowships funded by the EU, and first in Italy for European Research Council (ERC) funding. For the quality of their scientific projects, four departments have been acknowledged by MIUR (Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research) as “Departments of Excellence”.

Biocultural Diversity Lab

The Biocultural Diversity Lab focuses on the Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK), a set of knowledge related to the environment, shared within communities in a specific place. The Biocultural Diversity Lab research has a specific focus on ethnobotany and ethnobiology. The Biocultural Diversity Lab was born during the implementation of the ERC project ‘Divided Generations’ (ERC-StG-2016 DiGe), which carried out research on the medicinal and food uses of plants among different ethnic groups in Eastern and Northern Europe divided during creation or following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, examining the impact of sources, medicine, education, and laws governing their use.
The focal points of the permanent activities of the Biocultural Diversity Lab are the evolution of knowledge based on the relationships between humans and the environment, both today and in past centuries, through various qualitative and quantitative methods. The application of the results of the research of the Biocultural Diversity Lab is education, the development of local products, participatory conservation strategies, and policy suggestions.

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We invite the candidates to participate in our three main research projects that will be covered in 2024:
a) DiGe has clearly demonstrated the devastating effect of Russian occupation on the LEK of the studied traditional societies/minor ethnic groups. We detected erosion, homogenization and standardization of the knowledge within state borders and cross-border differences in knowledge transmission. We will continue studying the medicinal plant use in the researched area, looking for common patterns and the effects of literature and the official Soviet medical system on local ethnomedicine.
b) The research on the people-nature relations in migration concentrates on the historical Italian migrants to Brazil, exploring the specific plant species that were brought, adapted, or learnt from the local environments, the techniques used for cultivation, and the cultural and social factors that influenced these practices. The ultimate goal of the research is to identify best practices for bicultural conservation considering the local identities and to inform policy and decision-making in this area.
c) Fishery practices of Laguna di Venezia in Italy and Laguna di Bay in the Philippines are studied from the perspective of the local fishers, involving them as experts in identifying the drivers of changes (both climate and anthropogenic) and searching for sustainable and community-friendly solutions.