European Conference on Molecular Biology (EMBC) was established in 1969 and is an intergovernmental organisation currently associating 29 Member States mainly from the EU and some neighbour countries. Through its general programme the EMBC provides a framework for the European cooperation in the field of molecular biology and closely related research areas. The general programme of EMBC focuses primarily on providing training, education and research scholarships, as well as on organizing courses, seminars and education meetings. Implementation of the general EMBC programme is funded by the Member States’ contribution fees, with implementation being entrusted to EMBO (European Organisation for Molecular Biology). Contribution of the Czech Republic to EMBC represents approximately 1% of the total budget of the organization, i.e. approximately 190 kEUR per year. The Czech contribution for Special project of the Installation Grants is voluntary and amounts to approximately 270 kEUR per year.
General EMBC programme
EMBC supports basic research through short- and long-term scholarships, young scientists´ programme, and project of installation grants, international scientific meetings and practical courses within approved general EMBC programme. A special benefit for the Czech Republic is brought by the special project EMBC – the Special project of the Installation Grants (SDIG).
Long-term scholarships are 2-year internships offered to highly qualified researchers in the early stages of their careers, i.e. in their postgraduate training. The scholarship allows the recipient to carry out a research project in a leading laboratory anywhere in the world. The selection of scholarship awardees is highly competitive and the cross-border mobility is an integral part of the scholarships. The key criteria for the selection of trainees is a highly innovative research project, an excellent leading host lab, and outstanding publishing record.
Short-term scholarships are aimed at supporting the research collaborations. They are awarded to young scientists and facilitate short-term research stays lasting from 1 week to 3 months, allowing them access to scientific knowledge, new technologies or specialized facilities not available in their home laboratories.
Installation Grants project supports the efforts of some of the EMBC Member States – currently Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Turkey – to attract back home talented young scientists by enabling them to set up independent research groups and laboratories in their home countries. Successful applicants receive 50.000 EUR per year for 3-5 years. Essential for the success of EMBC installation grant is the support of the applicant’s institution – the goal is to ensure a sustained support for the recipient’s academic career. The key selection criteria is a highly innovative research project, host institution support and excellent publishing record.
Another activity undertaken within the framework of the general EMBC programme, on the basis of which the applicant is awarded the so-called Seal of Excellence, is the programme for young scientists called Young Investigators. The programme selects some of the best leaders in excellent research, who are at the stage of setting up their independent laboratories. These young scientists are in a difficult period of their academic career, as they compete for R&D grants with established scientists and are currently setting up their own research teams.
Other activities of the EMBC general programme are Programme of Courses and Programme of Workshops that focus on specific scientific topics and provide the platform for consultation and knowledge sharing. The practical courses are aimed at acquiring new techniques and addressing students of Ph.D. programmes and new researchers.
EMBC – European Molecular Biology Conference
Engagement of the Czech Republic
The success rate of Czech applicants for EMBC long-term scholarship is around 10%, i.e. somewhat lower than the average 15%. However, the Czech Republic is becoming an attractive destination for applicants for long-term scholarships within the EMBC Member States. The success rate of applicants for short-term scholarships from the Czech Republic is about 61%, which is higher than the average of 53%. The EMBC statistics and the level of Member States’ involvement in the general EMBC programme can be found in the EMBC and EMBO annual reports.