SPOTLIGHT ON THE EMBO FELLOWSHIPS PROGRAMME Funding excellence The EMBO Fellowships Programme helps make top young researchers both mobile and independent. Now a watchword for excellence, the Programme receives more than 2,000 applications for funding every year. “The EMBO Fellowships are recognized in the community as a valu- able step in a scientist’s career and as a result, we receive hundreds of applications. Around deadline time, it gets very intense,” says Fellowship Programme Manager, Andrea Hutterer, herself a former EMBO Fellow. Andrea, who spent four years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Gurdon Institute in the UK before choosing a career in science management, works with a team of four staff – Liselott Maidment, Zsuzsanna O’Donoghue, Benardine Ngu and Graciela Christoffel – who receive, filter, administer and archive all the applications. Liselott, who has worked in the Fellowships Office for ten years, super- vises the Long-Term Fellowships. These support two-year postdoctoral research visits to laboratories in Europe and elsewhere. There are two dead- lines each year for the Long-Term Fellowships, which precipate a flurry of activity in the Fellowships Office. She explains the process: “We examine each application to make sure it is complete and eligible. Then we send each eligible application to the Fellowships Committee, which is made up of EMBO Members, for pre- screening. Of these 40 to 50 percent are selected for interview. An EMBO Member or Young Investigator expert in the applicant’s research field inter- views him or her. All dossiers are then considered by our committee and given individual scores. The Committee then meet to consider the applica- tions and the scores. From this we derive our list of new fellows.” EMBO also offers Short-Term Fellowships. Administered by Zsuzsanna, these fund research visits of up to three months. Applications for the Short- Term Fellowships are ongoing throughout the year. With the help of referees from the community of EMBO Members and Young Investigators, Andrea selects candidates and Zsuzsanna informs them when a decision is reached and arranges the transfer of funds. The EMBO Fellowships Programme team (from left to right): Benardine Ngu, Liselott Maidment, Zsuzsanna O’Donoghue, Andrea Hutterer and Graciela Christoffel. Apart from the selection and administration of the differ- ent fellowships, the team is also involved with a number of other activities. The EMBO Fellowships offer recipients a unique pension plan so that when they move countries and out of their benefit plans, they are not penalised. Benardine, the newest member of the team, administers the pension plan and oversees payment of funds. The EMBO Fellowship is a very visible and sought-after stipend amongst early career scientists and processing 2,000 applications is a huge task. “Luckily, we are a really good team,” says Liselott. “We support each other, and we are constantly streamlining the processes so that they are as efficient as possible.” Liselott says that the reward comes at the annual Heidelberg EMBO Fellows’ Meeting where the team finally meet the scientists they have been communicating with all year. “It’s great when we put faces to the names. They also give us feedback, which is helpful.” The meeting is a crucial networking opportunity, explains Andrea, as is the biennual US Fellows’ Meeting. At the meetings, Fellows display posters, present their work and have many opportunities for discussion and social interaction. The online Fellows’ Network also allows current and previous fellows to connect and communicate. For more information about the Fellowships Programme and links to FellowsNet, see www.embo.org/programmes/fellowships.html The EMBO Fellowships are recognized in the community as a valuable step in a scientist’s career and as a result, we receive hundreds of applications. ©2012 EMBO EMBOencounters | Winter 2011|2012 | communications@embo.org 11 ©EMBL PhotoLab | Marietta Schupp