Management structure and procedures
Management of the training project will be implemented through an integrated structure that includes financial management, training implementation, monitoring activities, and management of knowledge, as depicted below.
The coordinator of this project will be the PI at PLUS, Austria. He will be in charge of the scientific and technical supervision of NanoTOES and will take responsibility for all the NanoTOES financial and administrative issues on behalf of the participating institutions.
Each partner institution will appoint a principal investigator (person in charge of scientific and technical/technological aspects in the project, PI) who will be responsible for research and training of the local fellows, and for training of visiting fellows based in other partner institutions. Some PI will act as Work Package (WP) leaders, and be in charge of communication/public relations, gender aspects, monitoring of training and education, industrial contacts, and intellectual property issues. If a PI cannot participate in an official meeting, another person from the same institution may be named as temporary substitute. All PI as well as representatives from the two associated level 2 partners are members of the Management Committee (MC). MC members are:
- Coordinator / PI, PLUS, Austria
- PI, CNR, Italy
- PI, Fraunhofer, Germany
- PI, UCD, Ireland
- PI, NERC, UK
- PI, NILU, Norway
- PI, IST, Switzerland
- PI, IEM-HAS, Hungary
- PI, ICN, Spain
- PI, ACS, UK
- PI, Grimm, Germany
- PI, Bayer, Germany
A Supervisory Board (SB) consisting of all MC members plus outstanding representatives from external institutions will provide external input and monitor the progress of the training and research programs. External members of the SB are:
- Jason Unrine, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, USA
- Maria Costantini, Senior Scientist, Health Effects Institute, Cambridge MA, USA.
The coordinator will act as contact point between the WP leaders, the Management Committee, the Supervisory Board and the Research Executive Agency. He will have supervisory responsibilities for monitoring progress in scientific and training activities. In case of problems or delays he will immediately communicate with the Research Executive Agency to ensure that corrective actions are agreed upon and implemented at an early stage. The coordinator will arrange timely meetings both of the Management Committee and of the Supervisory Board. For day-to-day financial and administrative issues, the coordinator will be supported by a dedicated assistant and by the accounting and controlling departments at PLUS, which are in charge of a number of ongoing FP7 projects. If re-adjustments of the initial budget should become necessary, the coordinator will propose a new budget to the management committee for approval.
The Management Committee (MC) will be the general assembly of all partners, represented by their PI. The MC will hear and discuss reports from all partners and will assess progress according to the working plan. Key decisions with respect to milestones, deliverables, working plan, etc. will be made in the MC by majority vote; however, the coordinator will make every effort to reach consensual decisions.
Two MC members (PI UCD, PI ICN) will be responsible for communication within the project using Web-based technologies and will also be in charge of public relations. They will establish a web site based in Barcelona which will be partially accessible exclusively as an intranet platform of NanoTOES and as a fellow’s virtual meeting room (forum, chat, video-conference and cooperative wiki-documents), but will also serve as information site for the scientific community and the general public. The web site will be fully compatible with the upcoming formats of mobile internet and e-books. This site will also be used to disseminate information about experimental problems and limitations encountered during the individual projects. A virtual journal club of the ESR/ER will serve as a collective blog on nanosafety and will help to build an esprit de corps among the project fellows. Communication of project results with all stakeholders, such as industry, regulators and policy makers, and the general public will be also a task of the communication team.
Two MC members (PI CNR, PI IEM-HAS) will be – in close cooperation with the coordinator – responsible for gender aspects. They will support the task of achieving gender balance and will be in contact with female trainees and staff members. Furthermore they will act as ombudswomen in case that gender related problems should arise. Partners’ institutions are very well balanced with respect to gender, as women are well represented – both as seniors and in recruitment of women to science. All scientists have equal opportunity to take part in leadership, research, training and dissemination.
Two MC members (PI Fraunhofer, PI NILU) will address training and education, monitor local training activities regarding scientific and complementary skills, and supervise the secondments and visits of the trainees. They will also organise network wide training activities like “theory seminars” and “laboratory seminars” in the various partner institutions, together with the local hosts and the coordinator. At the start of the project they will produce a Manual for Fellows which will be distributed to all fellows at the start of their employment and which will explain in detail the ITN and its procedures, good scientific practice, job perspectives and other relevant issues.
Two MC members (PI NERC, PI IST) will together with the external MC members serve as US liaisons and take care that scientific and regulatory developments in the US will be fully communicated to the fellows and partners of NanoTOES.
Four MC members (PI PLUS, PI ACS, PI Grimm, PI Bayer) will be contact persons for intellectual property and ensure best practice as well as adherence to the rules set up in the Consortium Agreement. The PI PLUS is in charge of IP issues at PLUS. PI ACS and PI Grimm represent SME with significant patent holdings. PI Bayer represents an industrial partner that is a supplier of technology solutions for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. These partners will oversee an IPR training course set up for NanoTOES fellows at partner 1 (PLUS), which will include a visit to the European Patent Office at Munich with presentations of patent experts.
The representatives of industrial partners (PI ACS, PI Grimm, PI Bayer) will jointly report to the management board on the industrial relevance of the training activities and also on issues related to exploitation of results.
The work packages will be headed by work package leaders, who monitor the progress of the WP (work schedule, milestones, tasks, and deliverables), facilitate WP communication and provide reports in time. At the MC meetings, WP leaders will report on the progress, problems and outlook of their WP. Designated WP leaders are:
- WP1: General cellular and molecular reactions triggered by NP: PI CNR
- WP2: Cell- and tissue-type specificities in reactions to NP: PI IEM-HAS
- WP3: The fate of nanoparticles in contact to biological systems: PI, ICN
- WP4: Conclusions on markers and toxicity endpoints for safety assessment: PI, NILU
- WP5: Implementation of the training pathway: PI, PLUS
- WP6: Management: PI, PLUS
The Supervisory Board (SB) will provide external evaluation, monitoring and advice. It will review and agree the training and career plans, monitor the progress of the fellows and of research projects, advise on ethical questions and on strategies, and advise and monitor gender equality and communication activities. SB meetings will be held during the kick-off meeting and the annual project meetings, where the external members will also talk with the fellows in closed sessions, without the presence of their supervisors, in order to get input from the fellow’s point of view. The external SB members will discuss the results of these closed sessions with the coordinator and if appropriate will raise issues during the SB meeting in such a way that the privacy of fellows is protected if necessary. The external SB members will also contribute directly to training by giving lectures during the meetings.
A Mediator, appointed among the members of the MC for a fixed period, will be in charge of resolving conflicts and help to find a consensus in case of disputes. In case of major issues or disputes, the Mediator will inform the MC and decisions will be made by consensus of the MC team.
A Consortium Agreement will be signed by all partners to set out the responsibilities and management structure of the ITN and fair participation of all teams. The CA will also specify rules and procedures regarding intellectual property and confidentiality. A financial plan, based on the Description of Work and the Contract will be agreed at the start of the project and progress against this document will be reviewed twice a year during meetings.
Risk management and risk assessment will be for each project a task for the PI, who will be assisted by other partners, external members of the SB or external ad hoc experts with expertise appropriate to the specific risk. At all meetings the PIs will report on whether or not a risk management is required. Risks becoming apparent between meetings will be immediately reported to the coordinator, who will seek support from other partners as suitable.
Communication: Between meetings, communication will be primarily web-based and a suitable website with inter- and intranet sections will be set up by PI ICN. The WP leaders will facilitate communication within their WP and the Coordinator will ensure communication within the consortium, with the SB, and with the European Commission.