Fotis Kafatos

«During the 1980s and in the first half of the 1990s, major initiatives were taken in Greece, but these efforts then faded,» said Kafatos, who became professor of biology at Harvard at the age of 29. Now, as general director of the European Laboratory for Molecular Biology (along with CERN, it is considered one of the two leading European research centers), he has personal experience of scientific research in Greece. In 1982 he set up the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the Research Center of Crete, and was its director until 1993, when he left for Heidelberg. «A university cannot function without research,» he said. «Ambition cannot be limited to the simple handing out of degrees, but the production of knowledge. That means research, that the universities play an important role in the free market. That is why the institutions, the foundations and the people should be strictly evaluated. Money is also needed, more of it and better administered. Funds for research cannot be distributed on the basis of arithmetic. The greatest percentage of investment in research should not be spent on wages, and just a small proportion on operating costs, without which researchers’ hands are tied.»