Dear EMBO members and YIPs,
I am contacting you in my capacity as the chair of the EMBO Fellowship committee to discuss an important issue that concerns the Italian EMBO Members and Life Sciences community at large.
As you might know, EMBO has recently updated its EMBO Long Term Fellowships programme by replacing stipends for fellows with full employment contracts. This revised scheme, now called EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowships, is open for applications now and will award the first grants in June 2020. However, in internal analyses we noticed that the participation of Italy to this programme is not commensurate with the size of its economy and population in general, and the size and quality of the Italian Life Sciences research community in particular. Thus, Italy-based scientists have not benefited in the recent past from hosting postdocs under this scheme as much as expected. We find two facets of this problem: first, the success rate has been below that of other similarly sized countries; second, the number of applications indicating an Italian lab as host was also significantly lower. We believe that the introduction of the updated scheme is an excellent opportunity to disseminate and promote EMBO Fellowships in Italy.
We are asking for your help to reach your colleagues, other group leaders and prospective postdocs. We would like to attract as many applications as possible from qualified postdoctoral researchers indicating Italy as their destination of choice for their postdoc. We deem that this would be a first step towards increasing the number of Italian laboratories benefiting from these fellowships. We also think that we could do an effort to publicize the fellowships outside of the immediate, traditional boundaries of EMBO. In addition to the classic topics of molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology, EMBO Fellowships are awarded to excellent candidates and projects dealing with any field of Life Sciences, from ecology to evolution, from neurobiology to plant biology, from bioengineering to behavioral biology. We would like to see applications for these fields going to an Italy-based lab.
We suggest that you and your colleagues encourage every incoming postdoc to apply, even if you could pay them from your grants or core funding. As you know, being awarded an EMBO fellowship is not just about money. The benefits for the fellow and also for the host lab are impressive: fellows are exposed to a broad scientific community and receive additional training. EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowships are one of the most prestigious awards in the life sciences for people in that career stage. They include unique features such as the EMBO Fellows Meetings and Laboratory Leadership Courses, fantastic opportunities not only for scientific exchange and learning, but also for networking and collaboration.
If you feel that a visit from EMBO staff at your institution would be helpful, this could be arranged. EMBO could also provide promotional materials such as posters, brochures or slides for presentations. Finally, please let me know if you have any other suggestion to recruit more excellent EMBO postdocs for Italy.