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Next ERC president’s starting date delayed by a month

Image: Michael Wodak, MedizinFotoKöln

Gap between presidents doubles, but European Research Council says three deputies can carry the torch

Maria Leptin will not take up her post as president of the European Research Council, the EU’s top research funder, until 1 November—a month later than planned.

Leptin (pictured), director of the European molecular biology organisation Embo, an intergovernmental academy, was announced as the next ERC president in June, when her starting date was given by the European Commission as 1 October.

She is replacing Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, a two-term former president who returned to lead the ERC as interim president in July 2020. His interim term ended on 31 August.

Vice-presidents in charge

The funder’s three vice-presidents—Eveline Crone, Andrzej Jajszczyk and Nektarios Tavernarakis—have been put in charge during the gap. A spokeswoman for the ERC confirmed that this would remain the case during the delay.

Crone has been a vice-president since January 2020, while Jajszczyk and Tavernarakis took up their posts in January 2021. All three esteemed researchers have served over four years on the ERC’s executive Scientific Council.

Research Professional News asked the Commission, which is responsible for the contracting and appointment of the ERC’s president, for an explanation of the changed start date. The Commission declined to comment.

Leptin’s Embo office said her directorship there would run until 31 October.

Speaking in late July, Bourguignon said he had full confidence in Leptin and that the two were in regular contact during the handover. “She is aware of the whole picture when it comes to the ERC,” he said.