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Editorial IBSA27 Jun 20245 min read

Funding scientific research: IBSA Foundation supports young talents

The world of research is strewn with obstacles, but offers plenty of exciting opportunities too. For over a decade now, IBSA Foundation has been supporting young researchers from all over the world, giving them the opportunity to push back boundaries and break new ground, nurturing their talent in favour of progress.

Today’s young researchers are born explorers; they’re persevering, ready to cross any barriers, no matter what. They’re as competitive as the great athletes. They know what it means to be resilient and they never give up, knowing that results often take years of hard work to achieve.

However, for all their determination, they still face countless challenges: job insecurity, short-term contracts with few guarantees for the future, limited access to credit, an overwhelming pressure to publish scientific articles regularly, and highly competitive work environments. What’s more, their careers are slowed down even more by a dearth of mentors and by inadequate support from senior researchers, along with the tangle of red tape.

Maurizio Molinari, Laboratory Manager at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), confirmed this in his interview with Ticino Scienza1: 

“The competition, on an international scale, is huge, and a researcher only has the chance to produce — and publish in the most prestigious scientific journals — if they get there first. In some cases (not at the IRB, thankfully), competition rages not only between one laboratory and another, but even within the same laboratory. Basically, there are managers who assign the same project to two different researchers to achieve the best results as quickly as possible. If the study ends up being published,

it will be signed by both of them... But you can see how this makes their work very stressful.”

And the problems don't end there. Swiss and international government policies have a major impact on the research landscape.

Recently, for instance, the Swiss academic sector voiced concern for the reduction in grants to support research by the government for the 2025-2028 period. This decrease, driven by an adverse financial situation, reduced the expected 2% annual growth in funding to 1.6%2

And it is not just in Switzerland that the institutions find themselves faced with difficult decisions when it comes to funding research and innovation, as Alessia describes in an article in La Repubblica on the brain drain of researchers to foreign countries3.

“I left Italy after obtaining my PhD, because my laboratory no longer had the funds to pay for an employment contract.”

Alessia - Biomedical researcher, aged 37


Nevertheless, the path of a researcher is a wonderful one that can bring immense satisfaction.
To quote Dante, “Those who have not experienced passion cannot understand it.”
It is impossible to explain the healthy obsession of wanting to understand the world and solve its mysteries, the irresistible urge to find answers to questions no one has ever asked before.
It takes curiosity, creativity and a touch of madness, because it often means venturing into uncharted territory and challenging what we already know. It is an ongoing quest for sense and meaning, striving to contribute somehow to the progress of mankind.
Just as the view from up high after climbing a peak makes a mountaineer forget the sheer struggle, the hurdles faced in the laboratory become distant memories when a brand new phenomenon comes to light for the first time: a discovery.

IBSA Foundation Fellowships and the funding of scientific research

For IBSA Foundation, ensuring that young students, PhD students and recent graduates can cultivate their talent and contribute to research, for the benefit of society’s well-being and future, is vital.

With this in mind, ever since it was established, the Foundation has positioned itself as a beacon for disseminating scientific culture. It has continued to support young researchers, recent graduates and PhD students from all over the world through its Fellowship project, now in its 12th edition.

What the project involves

The Fellowship project was launched to support talented researchers and back important projects that could change the treatment of certain diseases in the future. Every year, it awards a number of scholarships, for the sum of 32,000 euros each, to young researchers aged under 40 from universities and institutes worldwide. The winners are chosen by a board of experts that assesses the submitted research papers against set criteria.

“IBSA Foundation has awarded 52 scholarships for a total funding of over 1.5 million euros, out of 1397 projects received from more than 60 countries. We have pursued this commitment for over 10 years and will continue to do so, because we believe in the talent of today’s young researchers and want to ensure that they will go on to become the scientists of tomorrow.

Silvia Misiti - IBSA Foundation Director


The Foundation also aims to support areas of research that typically receive less funding. For 2024, projects can be submitted in the following areas:

  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology
  • Fertility and urology
  • Orthopedics and rheumatology, pain medicine
  • Healthy ageing / Regenerative medicine
     

“Thanks a lot to the IBSA Foundation Fellowships - It gave me the first good note from the public. It is extremely important for a young guy in this field “

- JingJin Chen, 2013 Fellow


The 2024 call for applications is now open: saying yes to new talents

A record number of projects were received in the 2023 edition. A total of 248 candidates took part, including 149 women and 99 men from 47 countries. The winners were announced on 25 June 2024.

The call for applications for the 2024 Fellowship is now open and IBSA Foundation anticipates even greater participation this year. This is a unique opportunity for those at the start of their scientific career, because the Fellowships offer a financial incentive to develop groundbreaking projects, explore new scientific frontiers and play a part in making revolutionary discoveries.

Whether it involves identifying new therapies for chronic diseases or deepening our understanding of fundamental biological mechanisms, this opportunity provides fertile ground for innovation and professional growth.

"Winning the prestigious IBSA Fellowship reward, provided me with the financial stability at a very sensitive stage of my early career."

Vinko Palada, 2018 Fellow 

 

Find out more about the project and the new call for applications

Fellowship 2024 Call Visual 1920x1080

 

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Sources:

  1. Ticino Scienza - Vita da ricercatori
  2. Swiss Info - Preoccupano i tagli ai fondi per l'istruzione e la ricerca in Svizzera
  3. Repubblica - I racconti di una vita in fuga (e felice)
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Editorial IBSA

The IBSA Foundation for scientific research promotes authoritative and accessible science education for health protection and supports young students and researchers through Fellowships and many other dedicated events.

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