PerspectiveRetrospective

Fotis Kafatos (1940–2017)

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Science  15 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6369, pp. 1387
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar6095

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Summary

Fotis Kafatos, Greek biologist and founding president of the European Research Council (ERC), died on 18 November at the age of 77. Fotis was one of the main driving forces behind the establishment of the ERC in 2007 and served as its first president and chair of the ERC Scientific Council. The ERC is responsible for funding scientists of any nationality working in Europe and has a total budget of €13 billion (US$15.5 billion) from 2014 to 2020. Fotis's vision for the ERC was that of a world-class funding agency for frontier research “run by scientists for scientists.” He acknowledged the inherent tension between a scientific culture of trust and an administrative culture of control. In his view, the ERC should always be science-driven; the administration should align to it, and not the other way around. Fotis considered the ERC his greatest accomplishment, and his spirit lives on in its mission and values.