This week the European Commission appointed Professor Maria Leptin as the next President of the European Research Council (ERC). Professor Leptin, who is currently the Director of EMBO (the European Molecular Biology Organization), will take on her new role on October 1st, 2021, when President ad interim Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon will end his mandate.
The new President joins the European Research Council at an important moment for its development. Over the entire long-term 2021-2027 EU budget, the European Research Council is set to receive over €16 billion (approximately USD$18.9b / CAD$23.4b) from Horizon Europe, an increase of 22% vis-à-vis Horizon 2020.
Professor Maria Leptin is a highly respected scientist working on developmental biology and immunology. She leads research groups at the Institute of Genetics, University of Cologne, and at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), in Heidelberg. In 2010, she was appointed Director of EMBO.
This week's appointment marks the end of a process of almost exactly one year involving an independent Search Committee, led by Professor Helga Nowotny, former President of the European Research Council and professor emerita of Science and Technology Studies, ETH Zurich. The independent Search Committee made recommendations to the Commission on the best candidates on the basis of a consultation of the scientific community and an open call for applications. The candidates met with the ERC Scientific Council, who also support the appointment of Professor Leptin. Professor Maria Leptin is appointed by the Commission for a term of office limited to four years, renewable once.
The European Research Council was established under the European Union's 7th Framework Program and is the European Union agency spearheading fundamental advances at and beyond the frontier of knowledge. It continued under Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) and is further strengthened as part of the new program, Horizon Europe (2021-2027). The budget has been constantly growing, following its success. The European Research Council awards grants through open competitions to projects headed by starting or established researchers. The sole criterion for selection is scientific excellence.