PRIMA funds 18 projects of women researchers


The PRIMA funding scheme of the SNSF continues to attract great interest. 132 women researchers submitted a project proposal in response to the third call. 18 will receive a grant to fund their project.

Women are still heavily underrepresented at professorial level across the Swiss higher education institutions. To counter this, the SNSF has devised the PRIMA funding scheme, which promotes excellent women researchers who show great potential. They will get the chance to lead a research project with a team of their own at a Swiss research institution. In so doing, they will enhance their research profile before taking the next step on the academic career ladder and obtaining a professorship.

1.4 million for five years of research

The 18 researchers will each receive 1.4 million francs on average. The grant will cover their own salaries and the salaries of their team as well as further project costs during the five-year funding period. In total, the SNSF invests 25 million francs in the selected PRIMA projects.

Among the selected proposals is a project by Nuria Casacuberta Arola (ETH Zurich). She wants to find out how long it takes the water of the Atlantic to pass through the colder Arctic Ocean. Michal Bassani-Sternberg (University Hospital Lausanne and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research) is looking for a new antigen in personalised cancer therapies. Stephanie Durrleman (University of Geneva) will study the influence of bilingualism on the development of children with an autism spectrum disorder.

Stamp of excellence

"The great interest in the third call confirms how important the scheme is for women researchers," says Fritz Schlunegger, president of the Specialised Committee Careers of the National Research Council. The PRIMA grants of the SNSF complement career measures of the higher education institutions in a targeted way."

The grants offer more than financial support: "A PRIMA grant also stands for excellence, which further boosts their chances of obtaining a professorship," says Fritz Schlunegger. Another advantage of PRIMA is that it allows grantees to take the funding with them should they become professors at a Swiss higher education institution during the funding period.

The fourth call has been open since 1 August 2020. Project proposals can be submitted until 1 November 2020.

Overall performance counts

In August 2020, the SNSF adapted the regulations of its career funding schemes to comply with the DORA principles. This also concerns PRIMA. The SNSF now assesses the overall performance of researchers when evaluating project proposals. The citation rate (or journal impact factor) of journals does not count for the assessment. In addition, the SNSF has adopted a broader definition of academic mobility that acknowledges a wide range of career paths.