A new alliance of 10 leading life-science institutes aims to raise the international profile of European research and develop co-ordinated responses to the challenges facing the sector.

Launched yesterday at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, Spain, the EU-LIFE alliance says its mission is to foster excellence, share knowledge and influence policy in the life sciences.

Its partners are research centres that “operate with similar principles of excellence, external reviews, independence, competitiveness and internationality”, EU-LIFE noted.

CRG is co-leader of the alliance along with Belgium’s VIB life-sciences research institute.

The other partners in EU-LIFE are the Institut Curie (France); the Netherlands Cancer Institute; the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (Germany); Istituto Europeo di Oncologia (Italy); Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Portugal); the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences; CEITEC (Czech Republic); and the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (Finland).

In total, the network encompasses 7,039 scientists and support personnel while accounting for 2,551 research publications and 59 co-ordinated EU research projects.

Concrete actions

The official launch of the EU-LIFE alliance in Barcelona was an opportunity for more than 60 EU-LIFE members to work on defining concrete actions such as sharing best practice and formulating joint activities in technology transfer, international collaboration, translational research, science communication, competitive funding, recruitment and training. 

“There are many excellent research institutes in Europe,” commented Luis Serrano, director of the Centre for Genomics Regulation. “By increasing our international visibility through EU-LIFE, we aim to raise awareness of European science.”

Serrano asked why, for example, European institutes often fail to attract top students from the US, or why much of the junior talent in the field ends up leaving for other continents and never returning.  

EU-LIFE could counter these trends by, for example, agreeing on common standards for PhD and post-doctoral recruitment and training programmes, or by organising joint scientific events for young scientists, he suggested.