Commission launches call for NEST Pathfinder proposals

December 18, 2003

Brussels, 17 Dec 2003

The European Commission has launched an open call for proposals for new and emerging science and technology (NEST) - Pathfinder - under the 'anticipating scientific and technological needs' activity of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). This is one of the areas covered by the 'integrating and strengthening the European Research Area' specific programme.

This call covers the following areas:

- Complex systems Complexity is a critical challenge for many areas of science and technology. Emerging areas of science such as 'systems biology' and 'biocomplexity' are founded on the idea that phenomena need to be understood in the context of highly interactive processes operating at different levels. Similarly, there is an increasingly urgent need to understand and predict the behaviour of highly interacting manmade systems in areas such as communications and transport, which permeate the modern world. The same applies to human networks such as social, political and financial systems, where technology has tended to vastly increase both the complexity and speed of interaction, which is sometimes nearly instantaneous.

The aim of the initiative is to give an impulse to complex systems research in Europe by supporting cross disciplinary research on complexity as well as collaboration between the field of 'complex systems science' and particular disciplinary areas of science where complexity is a key issue, such as in biological systems, the environment and ecosystems. It will promote the creation of new, interdisciplinary partnerships between researchers within the field of complex systems and those in a range of other fields, as well as the extension and generalisation of successful techniques for dealing with complexity from one area of research into others.

- Synthetic biology Scientific and technological capabilities have now reached a point where 'synthetic biology' - novel engineering systems making use of complex biological processes - can be envisaged. A new realm of possibilities for biology based technologies is on the horizon, with the promise of an acceleration in both scientific discovery and innovation.

The goal of this initiative is to stimulate forward looking, cross disciplinary research to demonstrate key principles and generate tools and building blocks for synthetic biology. The research will focus on design and engineering of new biology based systems and processes with substantially different characteristics from natural systems and with real applications in mind. This could involve, for example:
- design, development and demonstration of key components of engineering systems based on biological processes (genetic circuits, metabolic pathways, signal transduction pathways) and their sub components (functional proteins, metabolites);
- applications in areas such as synthetic chemistry, production of new materials, energy production, communication and signalling systems and biological sentinels.

-What it means to be human Advances in molecular biology, neuroscience and genetics, have opened new perspectives for cognitive science and associated fields such as linguistics and anthropology. The question 'what makes humans different?', once a matter of philosophical speculation, has now become central to science. It is at the core of current efforts to build an integrated understanding of the human mind.

With its common values, varied cultures and strong research tradition in many relevant fields, Europe has a vital interest in this area and real potential for fostering scientific advance. To exploit this potential, this initiative will support cross disciplinary research which brings to bear the latest insights from fields including genetics, biology, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics and anthropology to examine 'how and why are human cognitive facilities unique?'

In specifying the instruments to be used for these topics, the call requests specific targeted research projects (STREP) and coordination actions (CA).

The total indicative budget for this call is 35 million euro.

To see the full details of the call, please consult the following web address: fm?CALL_ID=118

For further information on all NEST calls, please visit:
Remarks: The deadline for submitting proposal documents is 14.4.2004.

Before contacting the Commission, tenderers are strongly advised to consult the original call text in the Official Journal of the European Union at the reference below.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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