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Focus on societal problems could be counterproductive, says Leptin

Image: Michael Wodak, MedizinFotoKöln 

ERC president warns against “scientific populism” and announces new taskforce for research assessment reform

Focusing research resources on solving societal problems such as climate change is a form of “scientific populism” and could be “counterproductive” to tackling such challenges, the European Research Council president Maria Leptin has warned. She added that it might produce the “bitter irony” of “undermining faith” in research.

Her warning came as the EU and other research funders around the world are increasingly turning to challenge-based research in an attempt to increase the impact of their funding, including through the five “missions” that have been introduced to the EU R&D programme, Horizon Europe. Last week, the MEP Christian Ehler warned that the European Commission was “over-promising” by claiming that the missions could achieve ambitious goals on cancer, climate change, oceans, cities and soil.

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