Serrapilheira : Brazil's first private research institute

Categories: News

Tags: Brazil | Funding | ERC | call | Excellence

Founded by the filmmaker João Moreira Salles, the Serrapilheira Institute aims at supporting Brazilian excellent basic research in life sciences, physics, engineering and maths.

The institute, in its objectives and modus operandi, is highly inspired by the European Research Council - ERC.

It will fund new and innovative projects run by top young scientists. The objective is to select long lasting projects, giving researchers freedom and flexibility without having the pressure to publish.

Actuation in promoting scientific careers is also foreseen.

The Serrapilheira Institute is based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The term "Serrapilheira" refers to the accumulated leaves that fertilize forest soil.


A Brazilian Institute led by a French ERC grantee

The institute is led by a French geneticist, Hugo Aguilaniu, who was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2014 for his MeLiLoN project (Metabolic Networks that Link Longevity to Reproduction in Response to Nutrition).

Scientific council

The institute's scientific council is led by Edgar Dutra Zanotto – a materials scientist from the Federal University of São Carlos and is composed of 12 Brazilian and foreign scientists, including Europeans. Half of the scientific council members have to be affiliated to foreign institutions.


The annual budget of the Institute is expected to be between 16-18 million reais per year (approx. 4,5-5 Million euros). It comes from the estimated return of a 350 million reais endowment stemming from the Salles family's assets.

First call to be launched in July 2017

The first call will be launched on 19 July, at SBPC annual conference in Belo Horizonte. It is expected to fund up to 100 researchers for a 1 year project, with up to 30 000 euros each. After 1 year, the most promising projects/researchers among them will receive a substantial grant to run a long lasting research project.



About the European Research Council (ERC)

Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council is the first pan-European funding organization for frontier research. It aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. It funds young, early-career top researchers ('ERC Starting grants'), already independent excellent scientists ('ERC Consolidator Grants'), and senior research leaders ('ERC Advanced Grants').

The ERC operates according to an 'investigator-driven', or 'bottom- up', approach, allowing researchers to identify new opportunities in any field of research, without thematic priorities.

More here: ERC. Read the Focus on ERC we published for Brazilian researchers here.