Frequently Asked Questions - Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence – fourth call

What is a Dioscuri Centre and what are the components of an application?

A Dioscuri Centre goes beyond the scope of a project grant. It is built around a distinguished researcher position and is expected to become a lighthouse of scientific excellence according to international quality standards.

Each Dioscuri Centre (DC) consists of three components:

  • Leader of the Dioscuri Centre (Applicant): an outstanding early-career scientist capable of establishing and leading an excellent, highly visible research group with an innovative research concept for establishing a DC and with the potential to grow DC and attract additional funding
  • Polish Host Institution: provides adequate infrastructure, equipment, additional funds and a long-term perspective for DC leader as well as an environment for excellent research to flourish
  • Partner from Germany: a senior scientist from Germany that will support the DC leader in scientific as well as managerial questions and that organizes joint (research) activities with DC leader and guides the DC in its structural development

How many Dioscuri Centers can be funded in the Call?

In the fourth call for Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence (DC) up to three centers will be funded.

How can I find a suitable Host Institution for me?

You can use several strategies to find a suitable Host Institution (HI) for your DC:

  • you already have a working relationship / contact with an eligible Polish Host Institution
  • you use the list of Polish Host Institutions that declared their willingness to host a Dioscuri Centre within chosen disciplines. The list can be found here:
  • you may actively search for a suitable scientific surrounding for your proposed DC and might want to contact various research institutions in Poland to find the best fit
  • you might want to ask for advice/recommendations from your personal contacts in Poland (if applicable)
  • you might be actively approached by a Polish Institution that would like to host your Dioscuri Centre
  • some potential Host Institutions like to publish separate advertisements looking for a potential DC leader they could host; some HIs organize separate pre-selection processes to identify a DC leader they would like to apply with (these selections are in no way connected to the formal call issued by MPG and NCN and are not subject to our evaluation criteria)

Which Host Institutions are eligible and what are the criteria a Host Institution has to meet?

A Host Institution shall be a research entity specified in the Act on Polish Higher Education and Science from 20th July 2018 (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1668, 2024, 2245, of 2019 item 276, 447, 534) Article 7, point 1, 2, 4-8.

The Host Institution must declare to:

  1. sign a contract of full-time employment with the leader of the DC for the entire funding period;
  2. sign contracts with DC personnel: the form of employment is to be agreed upon by all parties (contract of employment, contract of specific task, contract of mandate; scholarship);
  3. provide from its own budget additional funding for the DC in the amount of at least € 25,000 on average per year for the entire funding period;
  4. provide the DC with optimal conditions for carrying out its research, including office/ laboratory space and research equipment necessary for the completion of the research;
  5. provide administrative and financial services and support to the DC;
  6. provide at its own expense a full-time English-speaking administrative coordinator exclusively for the DC for the entire funding period;
  7. provide support related to the DC leader’s relocation and stay in Poland. This may include childcare and/or help for the partner of the DC leader in finding a suitable position (if applicable);
  8. assign a group leader at the HI as institutional guide to support the DC leader in questions concerning local regulations and practices during the first year of the DC;
  9. offer a long-term perspective to the leader of the DC beyond the Dioscuri funding period. This includes a commitment to create a permanent position at the end of the funding period for which the leader of the DC will be eligible to apply.

Who may apply as Leader of a Dioscuri Centre?

Scientists from all scientific disciplines, who have proven their ability to conduct innovative research independently and:

  1. who completed their PhD no longer than 15 years prior to the application deadline. Female applicants can add 18 months for each child, male applicants can add the number of months of parental leave if applicable.
  2. who have proven their international mobility over the course of their scientific career, e.g., who pursued their PhD and post-doc at different research institutions (at least one of them outside Poland).
  3. who have not been employed at the Host Institution on a contract of employment during the last two years prior to the application deadline.

Scientific Disciplines are specified here:

Who may act as German Partner of Dioscuri Centre and what is the role of Scientific Advisory Board?

The work of the Dioscuri Centre will be accompanied by a Partner employed by a German university or research institution.

  1. Applicants shall designate a senior scientist from a German university or research institution as their Partner from Germany (a natural person, not an organization).
  2. The Partner shall be well suited to advise on the scientific and structural development of the DC. Applicants are responsible for identifying and securing a Partner.
  3. Joint activities with the Partner are eligible for funding within the Dioscuri Programme and might take various forms (e.g.: collaboration on research projects, exchange of PhD-students or post-docs, mutual research stays, joint organization of workshops/conferences etc.)
  4. The track record of the German Partner is also subject to evaluation of the proposal.

Each Dioscuri Centre is encouraged to expand this partnership tool and turn it into a Scientific Advisory Board. Regulations concerning the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Board will be provided together with the recommendations from the Dioscuri Committee.

What should the application for a Dioscuri Centre look like?

To apply to the Dioscuri Programme, you will need to submit an application via our application platform consisting of an application form, application documents, a short and full research concept as well as three signed attachments.

Short and Full Concept for Establishing a Dioscuri Centre

You will be asked to provide a concept for the DC you plan to establish, in a short (must not exceed 25,000 characters, including references) and a full version (must not exceed 65,000 characters, including references). The concept shall include

  1. an innovative research programme
  2. an outline for the DC’s structural development, which might include the envisioned relationship with the Partner from Germany, plans for securing qualified personnel and additional (external) funding, as well as strategies for positioning the DC in the

    local and international scientific community.

Application Form

The application form includes: your basic personal information, basic information about the Dioscuri Centre (DC) you are proposing to establish (including a short abstract), basic information about your Partner from Germany and a justification for selecting her/him as a Partner (must not exceed 4000 characters), basic information about the Host Institution (HI) and a justification for choosing the HI (must not exceed 4000 characters), a budget outline and budget table for the DC, as well as your requirements from the Host Institution.

Application Documents (to be uploaded)

You will be asked to upload the following documents in PDF format:

  • Applicant’s CV (must not exceed two pages)
  • Complete list of applicant’s publications
  • Complete list of applicant’s invited lectures
  • No more than 5 important publications of the applicant [individual upload fields for up to 5 PDFs]
  • CV of Partner from Germany (must not exceed two pages)
  • Complete list of Partner’s publications
  • Complete list of Partner’s invited lectures
  • No more than 5 important publications of the Partner [individual upload fields for up to 5 PDFs]
  • Short research concept [must not exceed 25,000 characters (including spaces)]
  • Full research concept [must not exceed 65,000 characters (including spaces)]

We kindly ask you to name each file in the following way: LastName_FileName.pdf [e.g.: Curie_ApplicantCV.pdf; Curie_ListPartnerPublication.pdf; Curie_Publication1.pdf etc.] Please observe the page limit. Documents in other formats or with higher page counts will not be accepted. Please do not upload any encrypted PDFs.

Attachments 1 to 3 (signature and upload)

We ask you to provide three signed documents: a declaration of the applicant (Attachment 1); a declaration of the Polish Host Institution (Attachment 2); and a letter of intent of the Partner from Germany (Attachment 3). These three documents will need to be signed by the respective party.

A scan of the signed document must be uploaded to the platform and a hard copy must be sent via post. Your Host Institution and/or your Partner from Germany may also send their documents directly to us:

Attention Dr Steffi Heinecke
Hofgartenstraße 8
80539 München

How to submit an application and what is the deadline?

Application platform:

  1. 1. First, you will need to create a new account to register for our application platform.During registration, you will be asked to accept the terms and conditions of our Data Protection Security and Privacy Policy.
  2. 2. After creating your account, you will be able to fill in the application form and upload all necessary application documents. You may save and edit your application as often as you like before submitting it.
  3. 3. Once you have submitted your application, you cannot change the data and/or files provided. Please make sure that your email and contact data remain valid until the end of the evaluation process. Should this not be possible, please inform the Dioscuri Office about your updated contact data.

The application deadline is June 15th, 2021.

What are the topics covered by the call?

Dioscuri Centres (DCs) may be established in all Scientific Disciplines within basic research, including:

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Fundamental questions of human existence and the nature of reality
    philosophy, cognition, religious studies, theology
  • Culture
    literary theory and comparative literature, history of literature, linguistics, library science, cultural studies, arts, architecture
  • The study of the human past
    history, archaeology, ethnology, cultural anthropology
  • Individuals, institutions, markets
    economics, finance, management, demography, social and economic geography, urban studies
  • Norms and governance
    law, political studies, regional and social policies
  • Human nature and human society
    psychology, pedagogy/education studies, sociology

Life Sciences

  • Molecular biology, structural biology, biotechnology
    molecular biology, structural biology, biotechnology
  • Genetics, genomics
    molecular genetics, genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, genetic epidemiology
  • Cellular and developmental biology
    cell biology, developmental biology, ageing biology, neurobiology
  • Biology of tissues, organs and organisms
    morphology and functions of animal's and human's systems, organs and organisms, experimental medicine, basics of neurology
  • Human and animal noninfectious diseases
    etiology, mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, poisonings and injuries (without neurological diseases)
  • Human and animal immunology and infection
    immunity, immune disorders, immunotherapy, infectious and invasive diseases, microbiology, transplantology, allergology
  • Diagnostic tools, therapies and public health
    public health, epidemiology, environmental health risks and occupational medicine, medical ethics, drug discovery and therapies, pharmacology
  • Evolutionary and environmental biology
    evolution, ecology, population biology, biodiversity, biogeography
  • Fundamentals of applied life sciences and biotechnology
    agricultural, forestry, horticulture, animal production and fishery, food and nutrition sciences, industrial biosciences, environmental biotechnology and remediation

Natural Sciences and Technology

  • Mathematics
    all areas of mathematics, pure and applied, as well as mathematical foundations of computer science, physics and statistics
  • Fundamental constituents of matter
    particle, nuclear, plasma, atomic, molecular, gas and optical physics
  • Condensed matter physics
    structure, electronic properties, fluids, nanosciences, biological physics
  • Physical and analytical chemical sciences
    physical chemistry/chemical physics, theoretical chemistry, analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, method development
  • Materials and synthesis
    materials synthesis, structure-properties relations, advanced and functional materials with designed properties, (macro)molecular architecture, material engineering
  • Computer science and informatics
    informatics and information systems, computer science, scientific computing, intelligent systems
  • Systems and communication engineering
    electronics, communication, optoelectronics
  • Production and processes engineering
    modelling, product design, process design and control, construction methods and engineering, power units and systems
  • Astronomy and space research
    astrophysics, astrochemistry, astrobiology, solar system, planetary systems, stellar, galactic and extragalactic astronomy, space science, instrumentation
  • Earth sciences
    Earth system science, atmospheric sciences, climatology, geochemistry, geodesy, geoecology, geophysics, physical geography, geoinformatics, planetary geology, pedology, mining, chemical and physical oceanology, environmental protection

What is the duration of the funding and when can I start my Dioscuri Centre?

The funding period for each DC comprises five years beginning from the date of the establishment of the respective DC

Upon positive evaluation of a DC during its fourth year and subject to the availability of funding, the respective DC may be extended for another five years.

The Host Institution is obliged to offer a long-term perspective to the leader of the DC beyond the Dioscuri funding period. This includes a commitment to create a permanent position at the end of the funding period for which the leader of the DC will be eligible to apply.

Operations of the DC should ideally start within less than a year after the funding decision. The precise starting date of the DC will be set during the negations.

How should I prepare the budget for my Dioscuri Centre?

In your application, you will be asked to provide an indicative budget for five years of DC operations in form of a) a budget table and b) a budget outline.

Please download the template on our application platform to create your budget table for five years of DC operations. The entire budget must not exceed € 325,000 per calendar year and € 1,625,000 in total. Should your sums exceed the budget limits, your application will not be eligible. Please consult the call regulations before drafting your budget and ask your Host Instition for help if necessary.

Eligible costs from the DC budget (including the additional budget provided by the Host Institution as specified in the Call) include:

  1. Salary of the leader of the DC: up to € 100,000 per year
  2. Salaries of other DC members and doctoral scholarships
  3. Costs related to the research conducted at the DC (consumables, travel, publications, outreach activities etc.)
  4. Costs of joint activities with the Partner from Germany

The salaries for other DC members can be set by the DC leader. All salaries shall comprise the total costs of the employer, including also non-wage labor costs, social and health insurance contributions and other elements of remuneration. You might consult the HI to inquire about average salaries and/or the total costs for a position.

Doctoral Scholarships are awarded according to NCN Scholarship Guidelines.

Relocation costs will be covered from the DC budget in the amount of:

  1. Leader of the DC currently living in Poland: € 2,000 (spouse or civil partner: + € 500; per child + € 250);
  2. Leader of the DC currently living in other European Countries* : € 4,000 (spouse or civil partner: + € 1,000; per child + € 500);
  3. Leader of the DC currently living in non-European Countries: € 8,000 (spouse or civil partner: + € 2,000; per child + € 1,000).

*European countries include: EU member states, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, the Holy See, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, FYR Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Moldova, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the UK.

The DC budget (including the additional budget provided by the Host Institution as specified in 2c) cannot be used for expenses relating to:

  • Infrastructure
  • Research equipment
  • Administration and overheads

Research equipment is understood (in accordance with the definition by the Central Statistical Office of Poland, GUS) as sets of testing, measurement and laboratory apparatuses of limited application and high technical parameters (usually several orders of magnitude higher than typical apparatus used for production or utilisation purposes), which constitutes the tangible assets of the host institution, according to the accounting policies adopted by it. Small devices that cost up to € 2,500 per item may be paid from the DC budget (up to a total of € 10,000 p.a.).

Administration and overheads include salaries of the administrative and financial staff (performing services related to personnel, accounting, legal issues, including the outsourcing of accounting to an accountancy office), costs of renovation of facilities, costs of adapting/upgrading facilities, so that they can meet the needs of the research tasks, fees and rent for the use of facilities, property taxes, etc., utilities (cost of electricity, heating, heating gas, water, as well as other transmission fees, sewage, etc.), costs of cleaning, janitorial and security services to facilities, cost of non-life insurance, handling and administrative fees, cost of banking services, including opening a separate account for the grant, bank fees, costs of external audits.

What is the proposal evaluation procedure and what are the evaluation criteria?

After an eligibility check, all eligible applications will be forwarded to the Dioscuri Committee. The Dioscuri Committee will be responsible for the overall evaluation and selection process.

In the first stage, the Committee will review all eligible applications and - based on the applicants' scientific accomplishments and their short research concept for a DC - select up to around 15 applications for the second stage. Selected as well as rejected applicants will be informed about this decision by the end of September 2021 via the application platform.

In the second stage, the remaining applications will be subject to external scientific reviews based on the full research concept. Building on these reviews, the Dioscuri Committee will select up to around 6 applicants for final interviews. Selected as well as rejected applicants will be informed about this decision in December 2021 via the application platform.

In the third stage, the remaining applicants will be invited for personal interviews to take place in Poland on January 19th and 20th, 2022. After that, the Dioscuri Committee will select up to three applicants for funding within the Dioscuri Programme.

We kindly ask you to refrain from individual inquiries concerning the status of your application.

All reviews will be based solely on the scientific merit of the candidates and the quality of their research concepts. Please note that the proceedings of the Dioscuri Committee are confidential. All decisions made by the Committee are binding collective decisions, individual feedback will not be provided.

Candidates selected for funding will start negotiating specific conditions for their DC with representatives of the respective Polish Host Institution and the NCN in January/February 2022. Negotiations should be concluded within several months of the Committee’s final decision.

Evaluation Criteria: General Items for Review

  1. A Dioscuri Centre (DC) goes beyond the scope of a project grant. It is built around a distinguished researcher position and is expected to become a lighthouse of scientific excellence according to international quality standards.
  2. Bearing this in mind, the scientific quality of the leader of a DC and her/his ability to conduct innovative, internationally competitive research is the most important criterion for review.
  3. Dioscuri Centres shall be scientifically ground breaking and flexible. They should take up innovative topics, follow a sustainable approach, and involve excellent researchers (the applicant as well as collaborating scientists).
  4. The clear goal and the ability to build up and develop the Dioscuri Centre and to integrate it into the regional and international research landscape, including co-operation with the Partner from Germany, is indispensable.
  5. The DC will be funded with up to € 325,000 p.a., while infrastructure and scientific equipment will be provided by the respective Host Institution. The leader of the DC will be encouraged to apply for additional funding from NCN and other Polish and European/international sources.

When and how will the results be announced?

Selected candidates will be informed about the funding decision after 3rd stage of evaluation is completed in January 2022. The results of the call will be published after the negotiations have been concluded, which might take several months.


Recording of the Webinar for Potential Applicants (23.03.2021)

Disclaimer: This is an unedited recording of a live event, which might contain errors or omissions. Please consult the relevant call documents or contact us in case of any uncertainties resulting from the content of the video. The information contained in this video is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

Where to find supplementary documents on good scientific practice?

Whom to contact if I have further questions?

Dr. Steffi Heinecke
Max-Planck-Society - Administrative Headquarters
Programme Coordinator Dioscuri

Dr. Małgorzata Jacobs
National Science Centre
Programme Coordinator Dioscuri

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