Nearly € 47 M for scholars pursuing basic research

Friday, 29 January 2016

The National Science Centre has published the results of the MAESTRO 7, HARMONIA 7 and SONATA BIS 5 calls. The list of winners names 157 researchers from all over Poland.

Out of 760 proposals submitted to the three calls, 20 per cent have been awarded funding. Thus the average success rate, i.e. the number of research projects approved for funding as measured against the total number of entries, has risen by 7 per cent in comparison to the previous editions of the calls.

“The percentage increase of success rate in the recently concluded calls is the first visible effect of boosting the NCN 2016 budget by more than € 26 M. Almost the entire sum will be geared toward direct financing of Polish researchers' projects. Moreover, we have decided to return to the upper limit of 30 per cent in overheads for the projects' host institutions. Such proportions of funding costs better secure the resources necessary for proper implementation of the projects; they should also come as incentive for research institutions to employ grant-winning researchers”, said Prof. Zbigniew Błocki, director of the National Science Centre.

In the MAESTRO 7 call the applicants were advanced researchers. As declared in the programme's agenda, they will conduct pioneering research significant to the advancement of science which surpasses the state of the art and results in important discoveries. The list of winners has named 14 projects whose principal investigators will carry out research worth € 9 M. The top funding of nearly € 1 M in the MAESTRO 7 call has been awarded to the project “Cross-talk between the transport of mitochondrial proteins and cellular protein homeostasis,” led by professor Agnieszka Chacińska from the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw. The other projects include the subjects of metabolism of the orchis in its natural environment, the relations of uncertainty and quantum entanglement, the causes of variability in hot stars, and the monastic communities in the East Mediterranean in the 4th through 8th century A.D. The success rate was 4 per cent higher than in MAESTRO 6, and amounted to nearly 13 per cent.

HARMONIA 7 is a funding opportunity for projects carried out as international cooperation where there is no foreign contribution in funding. Polish scholars apply for the financing of research conducted in cooperation with partners from foreign research institutions, under joint programmes or initiatives of several countries, or using large-scale international research infrastructure. Resources exceeding € 8 M will be distributed among 52 projects. Those approved for funding include a study of drug transporters and their regulation in pathological liver conditions, a study of genetic and epigenetic variability in natural populations of grass, a project on the impact of global warming and eutrophication on the emission of methane and its significance to the food web of a lake, and research into dark matter and black holes by the Gaia space mission. The winner of the largest funding (nearly € 360 K) is the project led by Prof. Marek Pfützner (University of Warsaw), titled “Nuclear studies with radioactive beams at the CERN-ISOLDE laboratory.” The success rate in HARMONIA 7 has exceeded 21 per cent, which means that this edition has seen 6 per cent more grantees than the previous one.

The SONATA BIS 5 funding programme is dedicated to research projects giving rise to new research teams, led by scholars with at least a doctoral degree awarded between 2 and 12 years of applying. 91 projects worth over € 29 M have been approved for funding. The one with the largest budget is the study led by Dr Zofia Wodniecka-Chlipalska (Jagiellonian University), whose team will investigate the impact of short-term and long-term language experience on language regulation and cognitive functions in bilinguals. The research will cost nearly € 600,000. Other awardees will do research into such topics as the role of women in pre-Columbian and early colonial Peru, the ethics of biomedical experiments on children, the functions and mechanisms of acoustic and visual coordination in animals' signalling, and designing new protein structures with strictly defined properties using parametric models. The success rate in SONATA BIS 5 has been 22 per cent, which is 8 points higher than in SONATA BIS 4.

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