May I ask you to introduce yourself briefly (name, nationality, Marie Curie Action, Project, international experience…)?
My name is Francesco Grassi, I am Italian, and I was awarded an Outgoing International Fellowship during the Sixth Framework Programme. My Project was called OSTEODEN and the full title was: ‘Bone marrow dendritic cells as determinants for bone loss induced by estrogen deficiency’. I spent part of my Ph.D training in Germany (University of Ulm) as a part of a joint doctoral programme with the University of Bologna, but the most relevant international experience for me a four-year stay in the US, at Emory University (Atlanta), where I completed my Ph.D and spent three years as a post-doctoral student.
Why did you apply for the Vice-Chair Person position within the MCAA?
Because I think I can have an impact on the first MCAA Board and did not want to miss this opportunity. I am old ‘enough’ at this stage to have gained relevant experience on some of the key issues for the MCAA, and I am hoping this will help the association as it takes its first steps.
As the Vice-Chair within the MCAA, what do you plan to do first? – or what is the first item you plan to put on the agenda?
Firstly, I would like to quickly establish a fruitful relationship with the other Members of the Executive Committee and with the policy officers of the European Commission. We have the responsibility to shape MCAA priorities. To achieve this objective, it will be crucial to meet several times face to face, to get to know each other and start creating a team. Also, I plan to contribute to the establishment of a limited number of working groups, which will be focused on specific issues - real needs where the MCAA can play a non-redundant role. Finally, I plan to provide the best possible support to Snezana for her work as Chair of the Association.
What do you think the MCAA’s priorities should be?
The MCAA is still being established at this time; I think the main priority of the new Board will be to set the ground for a long-term support by the European Commission. Our work at this early stage will be crucial to ensuring adequate support from the EC and possibly from other funding bodies in the future. We do not need just ‘another’ networking platform; the MCAA must show and tell the outside world how valuable it is to be a Marie-Curie Fellow. To achieve this goal, we must work to build efficient, easily-accessible databases that collect professional histories and achievements of current and past Marie Curie Fellows; we must track them down and promote their experience. Transparency and effective communication among Members are key tasks for the first year of the MCAA. The website is a good tool but I see room for improvements in order to encourage individual contributions to discussions, planning and working groups. I also think that the MCAA should be proactive in strengthening relationships with non-EU countries, such as the USA, China, India, and Japan.
How do you plan to organise your work within the MCAA and especially your collaboration with the other Members of the Board?
I plan to meet the Board Members quite often at the beginning of our mandate; both face to face and through web-conferences. Knowing each other will be critical for effective communication and future work together.
How will your work within the association help build a “community spirit” among the Marie Curie Alumni?
By including in the ‘shopping list’ of MCAA opportunities the sharing of views and visions among Members, within meetings or working groups. I think it will be very important to build among Members a broad awareness of the unique value of the Marie Curie experience and make it ‘contagious’ outside of ‘us’.
Do you plan to meet Alumni? When?
At the local level, being affiliated to the University of Bologna, one of the largest universities in Europe, gives me the opportunity to have personal contact with many Marie-Curie Alumni as well as potential candidates for future Fellowship. I have already started to spread the word about MCAA with local EU-Grant offices and I plan to meet officials from my university as well as the local Marie Curie community by the beginning of next year. More broadly, I am willing to meet as many Alumni as possible at occasional meetings involving MCAA and through our Website.
What would you say to the Alumni, especially to those who elected you?
I would like to emphasise that the GA exceeded my expectations. I was truly happy to meet such a diverse community of students, scientists, talented professionals; some of them travelled about times as far as I did to reach our venue in Brussels and that shows how a great an opportunity the MCAA could be for its Members. I am proud that the MCAA and even its Board are a truly multi-cultural and multi-ethnical community. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, I am happy to start working for the future of the MCAA, and I will do the best I can for it.