Education: the most powerful tool for progression and excellence in Europe

March 1, 2007

Why is it that education & training are sometimes regarded as a chore and an unnecessary obligation?

The future of our industry depends on the young

Presently, highly qualified and motivated individuals present a bottleneck for the sustainable development of knowledge in vision research and ophthalmology and the translation of research results into clinical management and therapeutic application. Therefore, one of the most urgent challenges is posed by the dearth of excellent young researchers. An integrated approach to substantially promote the careers of young physicians and scientists is an absolute necessity and the only guarantee for the successful future of ophthalmologic research within Europe.

On the European level, an attempt was made to address the lack of young academics through the creation of the European Research Area (ERA) in 2000. In the same year, the "Lisbon strategy" was set up during the Portuguese summit and reinforced in 2002 at the Barcelona summit with the dedicated goal to help Europe become the "most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010". Basically, the EU set a target, which encouraged EU Member States to increase the percentage of gross domestic product they spent on R&D to achieve the 3% target set.

The Marie Curie philosophy

Under the European Commission's 6th Framework Programme, the Marie Curie Actions scheme was created to offer valuable assistance to scientists in all disciplines and with all levels of experience. The aims of the scheme are to develop and transfer research competencies, to widen researchers' career prospects and to promote excellence in European research through, amongst other things, the merging of disciplines and experiences to implement structured training programmes. Networks throughout Europe that have been established as a result of Marie Curie Actions also aim to achieve a critical mass of qualified researchers, especially in areas that are highly-specialised and still fragmented, such as the European vision research community, and to contribute to overcoming institutional and disciplinary boundaries, notably through the promotion of multidisciplinary research.