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PAUSE Programme: aiding scientists in perilous situations  

When a totalitarian regime takes over a country, scientists are among the first to be persecuted, stripped of freedoms and even executed. The PAUSE Programme offers emergency reception for scientists in exile to facilitate hosting and support of academics and scientists in danger with a view to bolstering the scientific knowledge the world needs in the future.

PAUSE Programme: aiding scientists in perilous situations. © INRA
By Anaïs Bozino, translated by Teri Jones-Villeneuve
Updated on 08/10/2017
Published on 07/25/2017

The aim of this programme is to provide incentivising grants to public higher education institutions and research organisations that would like to host foreign researchers or teacher-researchers in perilous situations. More specifically, PAUSE offers grants to a host institution to hire a researcher on a fixed-term contract. Funding amounts may vary between €20,000 and €60,000 depending on the scientist’s family situation and experience (doctoral candidate, postdoctoral fellow or senior researcher). Three criteria – the level of urgency, quality of the scientific dossier and hosting programme – are taken into account for the application selection process. The organisations strive to ensure the scientist’s integration (both professional and personal) as fully as possible.

How it works  

Currently, the French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research, Ministry of the Interior and Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs are directly involved in establishing the programme with support from the higher education and research community, including CPU, CDEFI, CNRS, Inserm, Cnous, INRA and Inria. The INRA contact for the programme is Moctar Diaby, Secretary General for the Joint Support Unit for International Relations. He coordinates all requests and assists applicants with their dossiers if necessary. “The application dossier is put together by the host unit with the support of the centre and relevant scientific division. Once I finalise and submit it to the Collège de France, the dossier is examined by the evaluation committee, which decides how much funding to provide. The amount allocated to the researcher is paid as a grant through an agreement,” explains Moctar Diaby. During the first call for applications, INRA submitted applications for two Syrian researchers who were already working in INRA laboratories. One of the beneficiaries is being hosted in the Herbivore Joint Research Unit at Clermont-Ferrand to finish her thesis, while the other is a postdoctoral fellow in the Joint Research Unit for the Mediterranean Environment and Modelling of Agro-hydrosystems (EMMAH) in the PACA region.

Reaching scientists around the world

We must pursue this programme as long as there are scientists in danger

Moctar Diaby notes that there is “a real desire to pursue this programme as long as there are scientists in danger. Both private and public funds will be raised to increase the programme’s funding capacities given the high number of requests. It is essential that we work together on this.” Through the PAUSE programme, 63 Syrian and Turkish scientists – 48% of them women – from all fields have been hosted at 50 institutions. “We genuinely hope that researchers from around the world can benefit from this programme, particularly researchers from Venezuela, Colombia and sub-Saharan Africa,” says Laura Lohéac, Head of the PAUSE programme. Over the long term, the goal is to enable these researchers to return home and create a knowledge network, which is of vital interest for the academic and scientific research community as well as for society as a whole.

call for applications

PAUSE is launching its third call for applications for 2017, which is open until 20 September 2017. Foreign scientists from any country and field who apply must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be able to justify their teacher-researcher or researcher status (doctoral candidate, postdoctoral fellow, senior researcher) in any academic field
  • Be in a dangerous situation:
    • A victim of persecution or violence due to their identity or beliefs
    • A victim of another type of threat (must be indicated)

Regardless of their current country of residence:

  • Be in forced exile
  •  Have left their country of origin within the past three years, with exceptions possible for doctoral candidates and individuals from areas in conflict for more than three years. Scientists with French nationality are not eligible.

Although no minimum duration is required to receive PAUSE programme funding, institutions are advised to propose hosting offers of at least six months to scientists in danger.

Application dossiers are prepared by public higher education establishments or public research organisations.

Download the call for applications dossier (in French):

Download the call for applications dossier (in French)


“PAUSE allows me to continue my research.”

Mohamed arrived in Avignon, France, on 4 January 2011 after receiving a scholarship to continue his studies. From January 2013 to September 2016, he worked on his thesis at the UMR EMMAH before signing a contract as a research engineer for seven and a half months. “I’m Syrian. I have a friend in the same situation who told me about this programme last January.” With the help of his friend’s contact at INRA, Mohamed applied to the PAUSE programme’s first call for applications. “My situation is complicated. I worked on my thesis for four years, I have two articles underway that aren’t yet published, my research isn’t finished yet, and I have to renew my visa. Luckily, I received a positive answer, because if I switched jobs, I’d lose everything! I’m married with two kids – it was absolutely essential to find funding,” he says. “The PAUSE programme allows me to capitalise on what I’ve already done and continue my research.”