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16 new transnational projects to address global challenges

21 May 2010

Brand new projects have been launched in Paris this week to meet major global challenges - including food security - using a systems biology approach. The projects involve partner organisations across Europe and are funded under the ERASysBio+ scheme, which includes Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funding for 13 of the 16 projects, which all include at least one UK partner. BBSRC’s investment is €7.7M out of a total investment of €24M.

Two projects focused particularly on tackling food security are FRIM at the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University and iSAM at Cardiff University. Other global challenges being tackled under the initiative include cancer, TB and liver disease.

All 16 projects use a systems biology approach – studying any biological system such that processes are observed and modelled in an integrated manner – to answer questions about a range of globally important topics. The 16 consortia involve a total of 85 research groups from 14 different countries. There are 18 UK based groups involved in 13 projects that are all receiving funding from BBSRC.

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: "Systems biology is a fantastically powerful approach and very versatile – as demonstrated by the range of projects funded through ERASysBio+. These projects not only bring together disciplines, but also countries and this is the sort of collaborative working that is becoming increasingly important. If we are to make the best use of our bioscience knowledge, expertise and facilities in the UK then we absolutely must share them with colleagues outside the UK and in other fields such as mathematics, computing, chemistry and physics."

Details of the projects are here:


About ERASysBio

ERASysBio is a transnational funding initiative, within the ERA-Net scheme, that brings together 16 ministries and funding agencies from 13 countries to coordinate their national research programmes in systems biology and agree on a common European research agenda. The initiative aims to promote the consolidation of systems biology research, stimulating the widespread adoption of systems approaches in biotechnology, biomedicine and agri-food.

ERASysBio+ is the second call for proposals under the scheme and involves partners in Germany, Austria, Finland, France, Isreal, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, UK and Luxembourg. Non-partner countries involved in this are Italy, Iceland, USA and South Africa.


BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Studies (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

About Global Food Security

Global Food Security is a multi-agency programme bringing together the research interests of the Research Councils, Executive Agencies and Government Departments.

Partner and sponsor organisations are:

  • Research Councils UK – comprising:
    • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
    • Economic and Social Research Council
    • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
    • Medical Research Council
    • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department for International Development
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Government Office for Science
  • Scottish Government
  • Technology Strategy Board

For more information about the food security challenge and Global Food Security visit: