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Former ERC heads receive Leibniz Medal

Fotis Kafatos and Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker have received the Leibniz Medal for their role in setting up the European Research Council in the early 2000s.

The German Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, which awards the prize, said in a statement that the establishment of the ERC was a milestone for European science, as it funds fundamental research according to scientific merit rather than geographical evenness.

Kafatos was the ERC’s founding president and chairman of its scientific council, but has retired to concentrate on his post as professor of immunogenetics at Imperial College London.

Winnacker was the ERC’s first secretary general, and is now the secretary general of the Human Frontier Science Programme.

Kafatos said: “I am very humbled by this honour… My own experiences have taught me just how important it is to encourage and nurture young talent wherever it arises and the European Research Council with its fair founding principles allows us to do this in such an excellent way across Europe.”

The medal is awarded every year by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Germany to reward contributions to the promotion of science beyond the scope of the medallists’ profession.