Hebrew U. ties with Oxford University in number of new European Research Council grants in past two years

The Hebrew University matches Oxford University in the number of starting research grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) in 2008 and 2009, figures released by the ERC have shown.

In that period, both the Hebrew University and Oxford, with 11 such grants, were exceeded only by Cambridge University —- which had 12 for that period — among all of the universities in Europe and Israel which were eligible for such financial grants. The ERC starting grants are intended to provide support and encouragement for young research scientists.

The 11 starting grants to the Hebrew University have a total value of €13,720,482 and were awarded to researchers Adi Mizrahi, Assaf Friedler, Tsachik Gelander, Reem Sari, Sigal Ben-Yehuda, Yuval Shany, Ariel Knafo, Edit Tshuva, Eran Sharon, Noam Berger and Yaacov Nahmias.

The Hebrew University led both the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which had nine such grants for the two-year period, and the Weizmann Institute, which had eight.

“As opposed to some other surveys that purport to measure university attainments on a non-scientific basis, these figures provide a solid confirmation of what we have known all along — that the Hebrew University is and will continue to be the leading research institution of higher learning not only in Israel but also as compared to some of the most outstanding universities in the world,” said Hebrew University President Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson.

Added Prof. Isaiah Arkin, Director of Research and Development of the University: “This, in fact, establishes the Hebrew University as the second best university in Europe (tied with Oxford) as far as ERC starting grants are concerned.”

This status is testimony to the quality of the material submitted by Hebrew University faculty for research grants, he stated. Now, “it is upon us to make sure that they prosper,” said Arkin of the University’s top-ranked, young research personnel.

Additionally, 10 Hebrew University scientists also received European Research Council advanced grants totaling €15,644,521 for 2008-2009. The advanced grants, given to senior scientists, went to Alex Lubotzky, Nir Friedman, Tsvi Piran, David Kazhdan, Aner Shalev, Sergiu Hart, Alex Levitzki, Bianca Kuehnel, Uri Banin and Yechezkel Barenholz.

In 2009, the Hebrew University received more than 50% of all ERC advanced grants awarded to Israeli universities.

All told, the Hebrew University received the impressive sum of €29,365,003 in both starting and advanced European Research Council grants in the 2008-2009 two-year period.

The subject of university attainments surveys was addressed by Nobel laureate and Hebrew University alumnus Prof. Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in a December 2009 letter to the Ha’aretz newspaper.