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  • Biomechanics in the Sixth Framework Program

    To whom it may concern:

    This morning I received a draft of the document the European Commission
    wrote to set-up the Sixth Framework Program (FPVI) of research and
    development. In my understanding this document is quite final and only
    minimal modifications will be allowed.

    In the Fourth Framework program there was a section of the BIOMED II area
    dedicated to Biomedical Engineering (BE). This section fully disappeared
    in the area Quality of Life of the Fifth Framework Program. We were told
    that BE and medical technology in general should have been present in each
    proposal, since it was considered a pre-requirement for each effective
    research project. Reality was that no projects targeting a pure
    technological development were supported. Also the supposed ubiquity of BE
    in all proposals did not materialise. The projects in which at least one
    of the partners was a BE research group are an exception rather than a
    rule. Overall, the feeling of the few BE experts called to serve as
    project reviewers was that the geneticists lobby was running the show.

    Looks like we were deadly right. In the FPVI (Framework Program Sixth) the
    whole Quality of Life became __ Genomics and Biotechnology for the Health
    __. Approximately two Billion Euro will be devoted " .to valorise the
    discoveries in the field genomics .". Nowhere there is mention for BE,
    except for bioinformatics applied to Genomics.

    Another point is that the focus on degenerative diseases (which in any case
    seems limited to the application of Genomics and Biotechnology to medicine)
    is now limited to the nervous system. In other words, the muscle-skeletal
    degenerative diseases are gone.

    I guess all this is relevant for the European biomechanics and BE research
    community. EC is already the main founding source for many of us.
    Furthermore, the same document calls for a greater integration between
    National programs, which should be opened to the other member states and
    interconnected to the FPVI activities. To be honest this part is quite
    complex and I did not have the time to fully grasp it, yet. However, it is
    important to stress that National programs will not stay untouched for a
    long while. Sooner or later the whole public support to research
    activities in Europe will be homogenised and integrated under this common
    philosophy. Thus, even those who are mostly supported by National grants
    should not presume to be safe forever.

    I am not sure how easy it is to get this draft I received from a colleague.
    I thought this information could be interesting for some of you. Useless
    to say, I am not very happy with this draft. If you share my concern,
    and/or you have more detailed information, please contact me by e-mail. I
    guess we should further discuss this matter, in order to identify positive
    actions. However, BIOMCH-L may not be the right place for such discussion
    as this problem involves all BE and not only Biomechanics. I could set-up a
    temporary mailing list if there is enough interest on the issue.

    Regards

    Marco Viceconti


    --------------------------------------------------
    MARCO VICECONTI, PhD (viceconti@tecno.ior.it)
    Laboratorio di Tecnologia Medica tel. 39-051-6366865
    Istituti Ortopedici Rizzoli fax. 39-051-6366863
    via di barbiano 1/10, 40136 - Bologna, Italy

    Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright in the forest of the night,
    what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
    --------------------------------------------------
    Opinions expressed here do not necessarly reflect those of my employer

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