Fotis Kafatos

Fotis Kafatos (1940 - 2017)#

Fotis will be remembered by all of us for his vision and generosity. A great scientist who made the difference for science in Europe and for its future. He served the scientific community with so much modesty and created perspectives for so many scientists. It was for me a great privilege to join the Scientific Council and to be welcomed by him.

Sierd Cloetingh, President of Academia Europaea


It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the passing away of Professor Fotis Kafatos, founding President of the European Research Council (ERC). He was a world-class biologist and a remarkable person.

Professor Kafatos was also truly instrumental in the successful setting up of the ERC and its first years of operations. During the decade preceding the launch, he was a driving force in the movement of scientists demanding the foundation of such a council. With great commitment and stamina he fought with heart and soul for having this new organisation established. He was adamant that the council be run by scientists and scholars in order to see to the needs of the research community. This governance has been a decisive factor of the success of the ERC.

Professor Kafatos truly cared about support to young research talent - an ambition that has been continuously endorsed by the ERC Scientific Council and hence reflected in the ERC funding schemes.

He was the first to chair the ERC's governing body, the Scientific Council, from 2006. He became the first President of the ERC when the organisation was officially established in 2007. He remained in this role until 2010, after which he was awarded the title Honorary President of the ERC.

The current Scientific Council builds on the legacy that Professor Kafatos leaves behind and is truly grateful for his vision and inspiration. Our thoughts go out to his family, collaborators and friends.
(European Research Council)


Professor Kafatos was instrumental in creating the ERC, which is considered a milestone for the European scientific community, since it was the first to allocate funding to research based exclusively on scientific merit instead of being evenly distributed among the European nations. Professor Kafatos and his colleague Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker worked solidly through the early part of the 2000s to establish scientific and political support for their vision until, in 2002, the ERC was instituted by the EU Presidency. It granted its first funds for scientific research in 2005, and celebrated a grand opening in 2007. Imperial College London

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