Alumni Association News 2010
The Irish chapter meeting was the ideal opportunity to chat to former EMBO Director Frank Gannon about his work at SFI General in 2007.
“The major challenge facing SFI - the main scientific funding agency in Ireland - is the collapse of the Irish economy,” says Frank, who took over as Director General in 2007. “My task is to ensure that politicians know what the outcomes of the SFI investments have been and try to get further increases in funding.”
This sounds like a suitable challenge for Frank, whose period at EMBO was all about growth. As director he introduced the Young Investigator Programme, the Science in Society activities, the Installation Grants, the World Programme, the Fellows Network and two very successful journals, EMBO Reports and Molecular Systems Biology, all the while increasing the number of member states supporting EMBO. Frank also led an active laboratory at EMBL, and at different stages of his career acted as EMBL unit and scientific coordinator, head of the graduate programme and head of tech transfer. “Those were very busy but fulfilling times, with the most rewarding aspect being that EMBO never lost its core values,” he says.
In its ten years of existence, SFI has already made an impact: 50% of multinational investments in Ireland are in R&D, for example, and Irish science in terms of citations has moved from a world ranking of 33rd to 17th. “The crisis will pass, so SFI must play a central role in a renewed Irish economy,” he says. “This will be based on quality jobs in high-tech industries driven forward by research groups that rank top worldwide.”
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