The French medical research landscape will be transformed with the announcement by the French government today of the six winners in a competiton for an €850 million fund designed to regroup labs from research hospitals, universities and the national biomedical research agency in a few centres of excellence in medical research.
The centres, intended to be of international standing, would promote translational research bridging the clinic and the bench, and building links with industry. The Université Pierre et Marie Curie is a big winner netting two centres, while among fields cardiology is the only one to gain two of the new centres – surprisingly, cancer research is absent from the list of new institutes (see table of the winners below).
The €850 million fund goes to ten-year grants, but a large proportion is given as an endowment, not cash. An official at the science ministry tells me that the centres will share $680 million in endowments, and €170 million in cash, which with the addition of the first round of interest on the endownment generates the €350 million total announced today (see figures in table). The winners were selected by an international panel of judges chaired by Richard Frackowiak, a neuroscientist at the Université de Lausanne in Switzerland. The judge’s ratings of the 19 grant applicants have been made public.
The funding is part of the first wave of a €35-billion economic stimulus package — the grand emprunt, or big loan, now renamed ‘Investments for the future’ — announced by President Nicolas Sarkozy in December 2009 (see ‘French research wins huge cash boost‘).