Call for Outline Proposals

Call for Outline Proposals

STRESS AND MENTAL HEALTH(EuroSTRESS)Call for Outline ProposalsWhat is EUROCORES?The ESF European Collaborative Research(EUROCORES) Programmes offer a flexibleframework for researchers from Europe towork on questions which are best addressedin larger scale collaborative researchprogrammes. The EUROCORESProgrammes allow excellent researchers fromdifferent participating countries to collaboratein research projects ‘at the bench’. They alsoallow, when appropriate, colleagues fromnon-European countries, for example the US,to participate. The Programmes encourageand foresee networking and collaboration ofresearchers to achieve synthesis of scientificresults across the programme, to link torelated programmes, and to disseminateresults.EUROCORES Programmes allow nationalresearch funding organisations in Europe andbeyond to support top class research in andacross all scientific areas, by matching theneeds articulated by the scientific communitywith their strategic priorities.Funding decisions on the projects and theresearch funding remain with the nationalresearch funding organisations, based oninternational peer review operated by ESF.ESF also provides support for networking theresearchers and for the scientific synthesis ofresearch results and their dissemination (1) .This way, the EUROCORES Schemecomplements the EC Framework Programmeand other collaborative funding schemes atEuropean level.For further information see: supported through a contract with theEuropean Commission under the Sixth FrameworkProgramme (EC Contract no. ERAS-CT-2003-980409).Funding initiative in the fieldof STRESS AND MENTAL HEALTH(EuroSTRESS)Following agreement with funding organisations in 13 countries, theEuropean Science Foundation is launching a Call for Outline Proposals forCollaborative Research Projects (CRPs) to be undertaken within theEUROCORES Programme EuroSTRESS. EuroSTRESS will run for 3-4years and it includes national research funding, as well as support fornetworking and dissemination activities provided by the ESF1.TheProgramme aims to support high quality multidisciplinary research.Outline Proposals are to be submitted by 21 May 2007 noon. It isexpected that Full Proposals will be invited in July 2007; with 17September 2007 noon as expected deadline for submission.A Programme-specific website can be consulted for the latest updates at and objectivesStress as a risk factor for mental healthRepetitive and uncontrollable stress is known to be a powerful risk factorfor mental disorders. Whether an individual will adapt or not to a stressoris defined by his/her genetics, developmental history and the complexenvironment in adulthood. In particular adverse or traumatic experiencesearly in life considerably add to the risk of subsequent psychiatricdisorders including major depression and post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). Traumatic events in adulthood or exposure to uncontrollablelifetime stressors -e.g. as part of the working life- are also reported toenhance the vulnerability to these psychiatric diseases in geneticallypredisposed individuals.The societal and economic burden of these stress-related illnesses isenormous and expected to become even more so over the next decades.Hence it is of great importance to come to a better understanding of theseinfluences of stress on mental health. In view of the recent great advancesin neuroimaging and the development of reliable genetic markers, it is nowhighly propitious to address this major problem and gain the

Scientific goalsThe main goal of EuroSTRESS is to understandhow stress can increase the risk of mentaldisorders in vulnerable individuals. Therefore,studies designed to improve the mechanisticinsight rather than descriptive studies areencouraged.In general terms, EuroSTRESS will focus on twomajor questions:• How can adverse early life experience andgenetic background in concert evoke lastingchanges in signaling pathways within thebrain, resulting in altered behavior andincreased vulnerability to negative effects ofstress in adulthood?• How can periods of repetitive stress and/ortraumatic events in adulthood (against abackground of life history and geneticvulnerability) disrupt brain function such thatthe chances on precipitation of specificpsychiatric disorders, i.e. major depressionand PTSD, are increased?For both topics the investigation of rationalintervention strategies (pharmacologically orotherwise) that normalize, ameliorate or preventthe consequences of stress exposure isencouraged. Research topics are addressed inmore detail below.Cross-disciplinary approachEuroSTRESS proposes a competitive Europeanframework to improve our understanding ofuncontrollable stress as a major risk factor inmental health. An essential aspect of the programis that it aims to promote cross-disciplinarystudies to make further progress, combiningfundamental (neuro)biological, medical, psychological,genetic or pharmacological approaches.Neurobiological approaches compriseinvestigations into the molecular and biochemicalpathways activated by stress hormones as wellas the functional consequences at the level ofcells, cell networks (in vitro and/or in vivo) oranimal behavior. Psychological approachesinvolve e.g. tests for cognitive performance,preferably combined with brain imagingtechniques. With respect to the clinicalperspectives, investigation of e.g. circulatinghormone levels in combination with genotyping insearch of functionality-active single nucleotidepolymorphisms may form part of the study.High priority will be given to projects with atranslational component, i.e. those projects thatmake a true effort to link findings in experimentalanimal models to the human / clinical situation orvice versa.Subsidy instrumentsThe EUROCORES vehicle allows a coordinatedapproach, where complimentary expertise andglobally-leading excellence from participatinglaboratories in various EU countries is combinedin a powerful way. Groups (3 to 6 in total) canapply for funding through a Research Proposal,which allows cross-disciplinary high-levelscientific collaboration between groups from atleast 3 countries. Applicants should explain theadded value of a trans-national approach.Detailed information is given below.Research topicsEarly life historyThis topic aims to support hypothesis-drivenresearch that defines predictive factors forvulnerability or resilience to lasting consequencesof uncontrollable early life stress. Descriptiveprojects are not encouraged; projects shouldmake a true effort to understand the mechanismby which the action of these predictive factorsresults in a vulnerable or resilient phenotype.Examples of research questions are:• How do environmental factors change thefunctionality of stress mediators, morespecifically those involved in thehypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis or thesympathetic nervous system, with neuronalsubstrates?• How do perinatal stressors involving either themother or the offspring lastingly alter signalingpathways in relevant brain areas like theprefrontal cortex, hippocampus or amygdala?• Which genetic factors or epigenetic processescontribute to the lasting changes?• How can new intervention strategies bedeveloped and tested, based on theunderstanding of above-mentioned predictivefactors?2

Repetitive or traumatic stressors in adulthoodThe objective of this topic is to get more insightinto the signaling cascades that are promoted byexposure to repetitive uncontrollable stress or atraumatic event, leading to enhanced vulnerabilityto diseases. The emphasis is on commonmechanistic principles, less so on the nature ofthe stressors or the (clinical) outcome.Examples of research questions are:• What are the molecular and biochemicalpathways leading to dysfunctional signalingafter exposure to repetitive or severestressors?• Are interactions between the amygdala,hippocampal formation and prefrontal cortexaltered after exposure to repetitive or severestressors?• Which personality traits or genetic factorspredispose to enhanced vulnerability orresilience in coping with stressful information?• Which key factors in the above changes canbe identified as rational targets for novelintervention strategies? Variations on existingtreatment strategies of the psychiatricdisorders of interest are not encouraged.3

Guidelines for applications(Outline and Full Proposals)Collaborative Research Project (CRP) proposalsfrom individual scientists or research groupseligible for funding by the agencies participatingin the Programme will be accepted forconsideration in the EUROCORES ProgrammeEuroSTRESS.Proposals must, as a minimum, involve threeeligible Principle Investigators (PIs) from threedifferent countries. At the same time, amaximum of 50 % of Individual Projects (IPs) in aCollaborative Research Project (CRP) from onecountry are accepted. An individual scientist canonly apply once as a Principal Investigator (PI),however, participate in other projects asassociated partner.Scientists or groups not applying for or noteligible to apply for funding from these agencies(including applicants from industry), can beassociated with a proposal where their addedscientific value can be demonstrated. Theirparticipation as Associated Partners in a projectmust be fully self-supporting and will not befinancially supported by the participating fundingagencies.Applications should be for three to four yearsalthough applications for shorter or longer timeperiods may be considered depending on therules of the participating funding agencies. Takinginto account the selection and approvalprocesses, the successful projects are expectedto begin their activities in March 2008.Online submission ofapplicationsOutline and Full Proposals will be submittedonline. Applicants should follow the proposalstructure as indicated in the Application Templatefor Outline Proposals available on theProgramme website at: this Programme website, links to informationon national funding eligibility and requirements aswell as to a EUROCORES Glossary andFrequently Asked Questions (FAQs) areavailable.Prior to submitting Outline Proposals, allapplicants have to contact their nationalfunding agencies in order to verify eligibilityand to ensure compliance with their relevantagencies’ granting rules and regulations.At the time of online submission of the OutlineProposals, the Project Leader is asked to confirmthis on behalf of all the participants in the CRP.Outline ProposalsOutline Proposals are invited by 21 May 2007noon.Outline Proposals will be examined by theparticipating funding agencies for formaleligibility. Therefore, it is crucial that all applicantscontact their national funding agency prior tosubmitting their proposals.In compliance with the rules and regulations ofthe participating national funding agencies, therequested funds under the EUROCORESProgramme EuroSTRESS can include salariesfor scientific and technical staff, equipment aswell as travel costs and consumables within theproject, specifying the amount requested fromeach Funding Agency. National policies may alsorequire the proposal to contain additional specificinformation. Applicants should be aware that theparticipating funding agencies can makesignificant adjustments to the requested funds inorder to bring these in line with their rules andregulations.Applications will be assessed according to a setof criteria in a two-stage procedure, as to ensurea thorough selection of scientifically excellentproposals. At the outline stage, the ReviewPanel will select proposals with potential forscientific excellence, by applying the followingcriteria:- Relevance to the Call for Proposals- Novelty and originality- European added value (scientific)- Qualification of the applicantsAn Outline Proposal submitted must comprise:- A short description of the CRP (max. 1200words, including objectives, milestones,methodologies (for example experiments andfieldwork);o Short description of how (and why) thepartners contributing to the CRP willwork together;- Short CVs of Project Leader (PL), all PIs andAssociate Partners (max. one page each,including five most relevant publications);- Estimated budget (consistent with the rules ofrelevant national funding agency) tabulatedaccording to a provided template.4

Associated Partners (APs) are also consideredpart of a CRP and will be assessed as such atboth the Outline and Full Proposal stage.It will be assumed that arrangements for thehandling of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) willbe in place within projects, following theapplicable national legislation and nationalfunding agency rules. Applicants are stronglyurged to have such arrangements in place,covering all research groups (including anyassociated groups) before the start of theprojects. It is expected that the results obtainedby the projects supported under thisEUROCORES Programme will be placed in thepublic domain.It is also expected that all relevant clearance ofother national or international committees (forexample ethics) has been obtained beforefunding is granted. It is the responsibility ofapplicants to clarify any such matters (ifapplicable) with their national contact points.Full ProposalsFull Proposals will be invited following therecommendations of the Review Panel. Thedeadline for full proposals is 17 September2007 noon.Please note that only applicants who submittedan Outline Proposal can submit a Full Proposal.For the Full Collaborative Research Project(CRP) proposals, the most important selectioncriterion is “Scientific quality”. Other criteriainclude interdisciplinarity (according to the scopeof the call), qualification of applicants, level ofintegration and collaboration, feasibility,European added value and relation to otherprojects (risk of double-funding and track recordfor collaboration).based on the assessment of the Full Proposal,the anonymous referee reports and theapplicant’s responses to these.The Review Panel will create a ranked listconsisting of the best Full Proposals and willsubsequently make recommendations to theManagement Committee for the funding of theseproposals. The actual granting of the funds to theIndividual projects on the ranked list will dependon the total amount of funds available in eachcountry by the participating Funding Agencies.The use of funds in a project will be subject to therules and regulations of each participatingFunding Agency as well as to the national laws ofthose countries.Full proposals must include a well-arguedscientific case (both for the collaborationenvisaged and for the individual contributions), alist of participants, a detailed tabulated budgetand other supporting information. A single,common scientific case must be made throughoutthe proposal to demonstrate an aim for scientificsynergy and integration of multinational expertise.In addition, the amount requested from eachnational funding agency has to be clearly andseparately specified. Detailed instructions onrequirements and how to complete theapplication forms will be made available once FullProposals are being invited.The Project Leader will be the main CRPproposal contact point for ESF for the duration ofthe project. He/she will be responsible forrepresenting the Collaborative Research Project,for its participation in programme activities, andfor any reporting requirements placed on theproject as a whole.All Principal Investigators will be responsible fordealing with the requirements attached to thecontributions of their own funding organisation.The Full Proposals will be assessed by at leastthree independent external expert referees whoare selected by the ESF from a pool of scientistssuggested by the participating funding agenciesand the Review Panel. A list of all referee namesused for the international peer review will bepublished once the selection process is complete.After receiving all referee reports, they will bemade available (anonymous) to the applicants fortheir information and for commenting (optional).The Review Panel will rank all Full Proposals5

Programme Structureand ManagementProgramme StructureThe overall responsibility for the governance ofthe programme lies with a ManagementCommittee, whose membership is formed by onerepresentative from each participating fundingagency (usually a senior science manager)together with an ESF representative.Proposal assessment and selection are theresponsibility of an international, independentReview Panel. The members of this panel areleading scientists, appointed by ESF followingsuggestions from participating Funding Agencies.The membership of the Review Panel will beavailable on the Programme website forinformation. The Review Panel is also expectedto monitor the overall scientific progress of theprogramme.The Scientific Committee which is formed by theProject Leaders of all funded CRPs will beresponsible for proposing networking activities forscientific synergy in the EUROCORESProgramme. They will also advice and supportthe EUROCORES Programme Coordinator in thecoordination of networking activities.Programme NetworkingNetworking activities are designed to strengthenthe science objectives of this EUROCORESProgramme by promoting coherence in theactivities of the science community involved. Thiswill provide the European added-value which isthe central objective of any EUROCORESProgramme.Networking and collaboration withinEUROCORES Programmes takes place at twolevels:1. between the various Individual Projectswithin each Collaborative ResearchProject (CRP) and2. between the funded CRPs within theprogramme as a whole.The intra-CRP activities are supported throughthe research grants each participant receivesfrom the participating funding agencies in thegiven CRP. The cross-CRP activities are fundedthrough contributions to the EUROCORESProgramme.The intra-CRP collaboration is motivated by thenature of the CRP’s research objectives, i.e., bythe scope and the complexity of the questions itdeals with. In a CRP, the participating groupshave the opportunity to gather the required criticalmass to successfully address the objectives andchallenges of their project.The cross-CRP networking and collaboration isstirred by the aims and the nature of theparticular EUROCORES Programme. The themewhich was the basis of this EUROCORESProgramme has been selected for its clear needof collaboration in the proposed field. The fundedCRPs will collectively set up and furtherstreamline this new collaboration. To this end, theCRPs will engage the programme participantsand, when of clear benefit, colleagues fromoutside the programme in joint activities such as:• Working Group meetings for theexchange of information and resultsacross the CRPs;• Joint scientific meetings or summerschools;• Short term visits;• Development and delivery of jointtraining schemes;• Seminars, Workshops, symposia, invitedsessions either stand-alone or as part ofother larger events;• Common web-facilities and publications.Through active participation of scientists in theabove mentioned activities, not only existingcollaborations are enhanced but new andstrategic partnership opportunities are alsoidentified.Furthermore, these activities may provideopportunities to explore aspects of theprogramme which are not covered by the fundedresearch projects.The integrative activities between the CRPs willhelp to strengthen the field by building coherencewithin this emerging research community and willserve as a platform for the research work which isdone in the programme.Project members are expected to participateannually in at least one cross-CRP activity.6

When submitting your proposal, please note thatthe costs for networking within your CRP shouldbe budgeted for in your proposal. Funds fornetworking between the CRPs will be centrallymanaged by the ESF through contributions fromthe participating member organisations.Programme evaluationA Mid-Term evaluation, conducted by the ReviewPanel, will evaluate the overall progress of theProgramme, based on the progress of the fundedCRPs. Here, the Review Panel has a steeringfunction and can comment on the CRPs’ workplan in relation to the objectives of the overallProgramme. A final evaluation will assess theachievements of the whole EUROCORESProgramme.7

Contacts in the participating organisationsAustria:Dr. Stefanie ReschFonds zur Förderung der WissenschaftlichenForschung (FWF)Department of Biological and Medical SciencesSensengasse 11090 WienTel: +43 1 505 67 40 extension 8201Email: Bruno MorauxFonds de la Recherche Scientifique (F.R.S.-FNRS)Département des relations extérieuresRue d'Egmont 5B-1000 BRUXELLESTel.: +32 2 504 93 05Email : bruno.moraux@fnrs-mobility.beDr. Benno HinnekintNational Fund for Scientific Research (FWO)Egmontstraat 51000 BrusselsTel: +32 2 550 1531Email: bhinnekint@fwo.beCroatia:Ms. Jelena DukicCroatian Academy of Sciences and ArtsZrinski trg 1110000 ZagrebTel: +385 (0)1 489 51 42Email: jdukic@hazu.hrFinland:Dr. Jukka ReivinenScientific SecretaryResearch Council for HealthAcademy of FinlandP.O. Box 99, Vilhonvourenkatu 600551 HelsinkiTel: +358 97748 8332Email: jukka.reivinen@aka.fiItaly: (Tentative *)*CNR’s final decision for participationis expected by the end of March 2007.For further details and latest informationplease contact Dr. D’Amato at CNRDr. Anna D’AmatoConsiglio Nazionale delle RicercheDipartimento per le Attivita’ InternazionaliP. le Aldo Moro 7, 00185 RomaTel: +39 06 49 93 34 34E-mail: anna.damato@cnr.itLithuania:Dr. Violeta VaiciunieneHead of the Science DivisionLithuanian State Science & StudiesA. Gausto Str. 12-40701 108 VilniusTel: +370 5263 9155E-mail: vaivio@ktl.mii.ltThe Netherlands:Dr. Janna De BoerNetherlands Organisation for Health Research andDevelopment (ZonMw)POB 932452509 AE The HagueTel: +31 70 349 5214Email: boer@zonmw.nlNorway:Dr. Signe BangResearch Council of NorwayPO Box 2700St. Hanshaugen0131 OsloTel: + 47 2203 7173Email: sba@rcn.noPortugalDr. Catarina ResendeFundação para Ciencia e TecnologiaAv. D. Carlos I126, 2 andar1249 074 LisboaEmail : catarina.resende@fct.mctes.ptSlovakia:Mrs. Iveta HermanovskáSlovak academy of SciencesStefánikova 49814 38 BratislavaTel: + 421 2 5249 2751 - 0136Email: hermanovska@up.upsav.skSweden:Mrs. Maria StarborgSwedish Research CouncilScientific Council for Medicine10378 StockholmTel: + 46 8 546 44 237Email: maria.starborg@vr.se8

Switzerland:Dr. Rudolf BolzernSchweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung derWissenschaftlichen Forschung (SNSF)Division Humanities and Social SciencesWildhainweg 20P.O. Box 8232, 3001 BernTel: +41 31 308 23 11Email: rbolzern@snf.chTurkey:Guliz SutcuTUBITAKAtaturk Bulvari No:221 KavaklidereAnkaraTURKEY 06100Phone: +90 312 427 50 39Fax: +90 312 427 74 83E-mail: Kingdom:Dr. Mark PalmerHead of International PolicyMedical Research CouncilCorporate Affairs GroupW1B 1ALLondonUnited KingdomTel: +44 207 670 5213Email: Contact:Dr. Mariana ResnicoffEUROCORES Programme Coordinator in MedicalSciencesEuropean Science Foundation (ESF)1, Quai Lezay-Marnésia67080 Strasbourg CedexTel : +33 3 88 76 71 77Fax: +33 3 88 37 05 32Email : mresnicoff@esf.orgThe European Science Foundation (ESF) provides aplatform for its Member Organisations to advanceEuropean research and explore new directions forresearch at the European level.Established in 1974 as an independent nongovernmentalorganisation, the ESF currently serves 78Member Organisations across 30 countries.Last Update: 12 march 20079

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