The European Commission has today 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 1 October 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 EU budget 2021-2027, the European Research Council is set to receive over €16 billion 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.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The European Research Council has since its launch in 2007 built a global reputation for funding excellent, curiosity-driven research. Continued strong leadership and imagination will elevate its standing further. Professor Maria Leptin is the right choice for this task, given her distinguished academic career, international renown, and proven record of innovation and leadership. I would also like to pay tribute to President Jean-Pierre Bourguignon for his remarkable leadership during his terms as ERC President and during the transition from the old to the new EU research and innovation programme.”
Professor Maria Leptin, newly appointed President of the European Research Council, said: “I am very honoured that Mariya Gabriel has asked me to be the new President of the European Research Council at this crucial moment at the beginning of the Horizon Europe Framework Programme. My intention is to continue the fantastic success story of the ERC and support excellent frontier research to confront our global challenges. I want to thank my predecessor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon for his achievements both in his capacity as President and during the recent transition period.”
Today’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 Programme 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 programme, 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.