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John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation Scientific Programmes Cycle Ends

Since 2008 The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has been providing funding for a large number of scientific research projects under its ‘Scientific Projects’ programme. Following the call for 26 selected research projects in 2015 it has been announced that the programme has now reached the end of its eight-year cycle. Funding for scientific research through The John S. Latsis Foundation will now cease but will be implemented in future under new programmes which are set to be announced in the immediate future. For eight years the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, overseen by the family supervisory board Henrietta, Margarita, Marianna and Spiro Latsis, has assisted funding for research groups from almost every academic institution and research facility in Greece, Greek scientists residing abroad and a series of independent research groups. The aim of the Scientific Projects initiative was to not only strengthen research activity but also to promote collaborations between international higher educational institutions and those in Greece.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was established in 2005 to continue the legacy of the late Greek entrepreneur and philanthropist John S. Latsis. The foundation aims to plan, manage and fund a broad range of programmes within the fields of social welfare, education, science, healthcare, culture and the environment. Following the death of John S. Latsis in 2003 his remaining family decided to establish The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation under his name and to continue his many good works within his home country of Greece and abroad. The family make up the supervisory board – wife Henrietta Latsis, daughters Marianna and Margarita Latsis and son Spiro Latsis. The approach of the foundation to grant-making prioritises situations where emergency relief for citizens is required, NGO capacity building and community development, infrastructural improvements, and projects highlighting Greece’s cultural wealth and educational and scientific research programmes.

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The ‘Scientific Projects’ Programme Overview

The Scientific Projects programme has been included in the programme of activities of The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation since 2008, financing a series of scientific one-year research projects with the aim of promoting collaborations between academic institutions in Greece and across the globe and strengthening Greek research activity across a wide number of scientific fields. Each year the foundation has issued a public call for applicants including all relevant terms and conditions for participation. Since 2008 there have been:

  • 6,200 project proposals submitted
  • 145 projects funded by the foundation
  • 556 participating scientists
  • 46 Greek organisation involved including universities, research centres and NGOs
  • 14 overseas organisations involved
  • 6 independent research teams

Projects have been divided into three main scientific categories: Humanities and Social Sciences; Physical Sciences and; Life Sciences.

2014 Funded Projects

There were 19 research projects in total funded by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation in 2014 including but not limited to:

Humanities and Social Sciences (7 in total)

  • Documentation of the Yevanic dialect (Independent Team)
  • A study of the willingness of consumers to pay for certified agricultural products ensuring fair working conditions (University of Athens’ Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development
  • A study of the advancement of agriculture, exploring agrarian production’s technical improvements and the significance of these for the Greek countryside society, using the Agricultural Museum collections from 1920-1960 (Hellenic Open University)
  • Research into the policies and ideologies of prosecution, discrimination and exclusion in the modern world to create an educational guide and historical anthology (The Aristotle University of Thessalonki’s Department of Political Science)
  • The case of Greece in terms of the underground economy and fiscal consolidation policies (The European University Institute)

Physical Sciences (6 in total)

  • A study of the use of nanogels in regenerative medicine (The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s Department of Chemical Engineering)
  • A study for structural integrity monitoring of self-sensing cement / graphene-based nanocomposites (The University of the Aegean’s Department of Financial and Management Engineering)
  • The effects of ocean acidification on benthic organisms’ calcified structures (The Hellenic Centre for Marine Research)
  • The development of a new system of information for automating reconstruction of important archaeological fragmented findings (ICCS)

Life Sciences (6 in total)

  • A study of the underlying epigenetic mechanisms of myelofibrosis (BRFAA)
  • An identification using a systems biology approach of human hepatocellular carcinomas’ natural inhibitors (The National Technical University of Athens’ School of Mechanical Engineering)
  • Using whole exome sequencing to unravel the genetic basis for MRKH syndrome (BSRC “Alexander Fleming”)

The 26 selected projects to be funded in the eighth and final cycle of the Scientific Projects programme are yet to be publically announced. Further programmes for the funding of scientific research by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation will also be announced later on this year.

The John S. Latsis foundation has recently supported ‘The Human Hepatacellular Carcinoma Research

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The John S. Latsis Foundation Supports Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Research

Today’s scientific research community carries a heavy burden of examining some of the world’s most devastating diseases. Hepatocellular carcinoma, also known as malignant heptamona, is the most prevalent of all liver cancers. Most of these cases are secondary, caused by a viral hepatitis B or C infection, or cirrhosis of the liver. Treatment for Heptatocellular carcinoma is dependent on a variety of factors, including tumour size and its stage; high-grade tumours usually carry a poor prognosis.

Today’s current therapeutic modalities intended to treat Human Hepatocellular Carcinomas are simply not effective. This has resulted in an increased need for research into prevention and new treatment strategies. One research team, from the School of Mechanical Engineering National Technical University of Athens are currently seeking an alternative approach to treatment using anti-flammatory properties found in plant compounds. The study’s objective is to identify these biomolecules and dig deeper into action mechanisms by using systemic analysis. The systemic approach will decipher effective compounds’ actions to pinpoint HCC therapeutic interventions. Funded and evaluated by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, the project is part of the foundation’s greater goal of supporting young research teams.

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The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

Born in 1910, John S. Latsis began working at an early age to help support his large family. As the years past, Latsis became an entrepreneur and businessman who found great success in the shipping, financial, oil and credit industries. His career began with agricultural produce trading, then carried on to other sectors. He acquired his first small passenger vessel during the 1940s, followed by several more in the year that followed. During the 1950s he entered the shipping industry, purchasing cargo vessels and a tanker.

Established in 2005, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation aims to continue the legacy of John S. Latsis by providing financial aid and support for those in need. The non-profit organisation plans, manages and provides funding for programmes across a range of fields including science, education, health, culture, social welfare and environmental causes. An additional branch of activities is an association with the Neraida Floating Museum, which offers visitors free access to highlight the entrepreneurial history of Greece. It also aims to promote environmental awareness.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation partners with a variety of organisations each year to support those in need. Recently, it partnered with the Food Bank Foundation to Fight Hunger. John S. Latsis supported Greek citizens with equipment and facilities after a series of earthquakes struck the country, including the areas of Kalamata, Pyrgos, Ileia and Greven. Other organisations such as the Hellenic Fire Brigade, the Hellenic Police and the Seamen’s Pension Fund received donations as well. John Latsis’ dedication to helping those in need carries on even after his passing. Today, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is run by the Latsis family, with Spiro Latsis, Henrietta Latsis and other members sitting on the Board.

Whilst the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation strives to provide aid to a number of groups in need, emergency relief is amongst its highest priorities. Additionally, it focuses on infrastructural improvement, academics and research, and community development, as well as highlighting Greece’s cultural wealth.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation also places an emphasis on environmentalism and sustainability, which focuses on waste reduction and supports a variety of environmental projects. This segment of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation aims to highlight and address the very real issue of degradation of the environment and the challenges caused by environmental inequality. It provides funding to communities and organisations to implement positive steps toward preserving the environment. These include research into renewable energy and reducing fuel poverty.

Hand-in-hand with its commitment to the environment is the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation’s focus on promoting education. This can be seen through its scholarship opportunities for public university students in Greece. Each fall, the scholarship announces a public call where applications are accepted. Students chosen to receive the scholarship will be granted installments throughout the academic year.

In addition to education, The John S. Latsis Foundation also focuses on public health initiatives. These include the infrastructural renovation of a number of medical facilities, the acquisition of specialised medical equipment acquisition and an aim at free medical service. The foundation has supported several large-scale renovations of hospitals in cities like Athens, Patras and Thessaloniki.

These efforts demonstrate the John S. Latsis Foundation’s commitment to improving life around Greece. For more information about the foundation, Spiro Latsis and other board members and the many causes it supports, visit their website.

John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation Fund Study into Effects of Ocean Acidification

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has funded a study into how calcified structures of benthic organisms are being affected by ocean acidification as part of its drive to provide funding for scientific research undertaken by young research teams, whose members are all under the age of forty. The study was evaluated for funding by the supervisory board of the Foundation, which is comprised of Latsis family members Henrietta, Margarita, Marianna and Spiro Latsis. Throughout 2014, research teams performed a series of experiments to evaluate the effects of ocean acidification and to raise public awareness of the problem with a view to influencing policy makers at the highest level.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation works to plan, manage and fund projects across a number of scientific, educational, cultural, environmental and social welfare fields, with particular interest in prioritising cases where emergency relief is required for citizens in Greece and throughout the world.

The Foundation evaluates each proposal it receives on individual merit, endeavouring to provide funding in the places where the greatest benefit can be seen in response to current social needs. One of the diverse branches of the Foundation is the Neraida Floating Museum, which seeks to broaden access to information about the Greek maritime profession, in particular raising awareness amongst young people. Visitors are granted free access to a number of events and exhibitions, each of which helps to promote environmental awareness as well as share information about the maritime industry in which John S. Latsis played a prominent role for many years. More information about the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation can be found online.

The Effects on the Calcified Structures of Benthic Organisms of Ocean Acidification

The aim of the 2014 study was to perform a series of experiments designed to quantify the effect on the calcified structures of benthic organisms of ocean acidification. This included using micro-computed tomography to study shell density and structure. Comparisons were made between juvenile vs. adult life stages, benthic organisms using different forms of calcium carbonate, external vs. internal hard structures and short-term vs. long term acidification.

The outcomes of the project were not solely focused on the specific scientific results. Micro-CT videos were also used to create an educational tool accessible to the general public to visualise the effects of ocean acidification. It is hoped that raising public awareness of these effects will place pressure on top level policy makers to make ocean acidification the agenda’s top priority in coming years.

2014 Scientific Research Projects

Scientific Funding from the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

Since 2008 the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has been funding scientific research projects across three categories for the advancement of research projects within Greece and in collaboration with global universities and scientific research groups. Within these three categories are supported all classification categories as defined by the European Research Council – life sciences, universe and Earth sciences, social sciences and humanities, physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences and information and communication. Each year the number of projects receiving funding in each category has grown, from ten research projects in 2008 to eighteen research projects in 2013. Each individual grant amount ranges from €10,000 to €12,000 including VAT and any other taxes, deductions and fees.

John S. Latsis Philanthropic Legacy

Throughout his life John S. Latsis was renowned throughout Greece for his generous philanthropic nature, establishing numerous scholarships, grants and foundations to assist citizens and organisations within his home country. He was especially active in times of crisis, contributing financial and practical aid in the wake of disasters such as the earthquakes which took place in Kalamata, Pyrgos and Grevena in 1986, 1988 and 1995 respectively. He funded a number of school buildings and donated large sums of money and equipment to various emergency services and to the Seaman’s Pension Fund. He was recognised during his lifetime with a number of honours from institutions such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Academy of Athens.

After the death of John S. Latsis in 2003 his family wanted to ensure that philanthropic works would continue under his name for many years to come, hence the establishment of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation in 2005. The supervisory board of family members today includes John’s son, Spiro Latsis, working closely with his mother and two sisters, Marianna and Margarita, to maintain their father’s legacy.

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Spiro Latsis and the Latsis Foundation Helps Develop Nanocomposites

Spotting defects in a building’s structure before it manifests itself as serious damage is of the utmost importance. Regular maintenance is the responsibility of the building manager, however only so much can be seen by looking at the surface, and cracks in walls or ceilings are often an indication of being too late. However, an international group of researchers have recently received a grant from Spiro Latsis and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation to try and develop nanocomposite material that can detect structural defects long before they have the opportunity to cause serious damage. There are many advantages to the proposed nanocomposite materials that extend beyond their self-sensing properties and what follows is a brief outline of what they can do.

The John S. Latsis Public Foundation

Without assistance from the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, the valuable research into self-sensing nanocomposites would not have been able to go ahead. Dr Spiro Latsis, son of Greek entrepreneur and philanthropist, John S. Latsis, agreed with the other members of the board that this research was worthy of a grant from the organisation. Programmes funded by the organisation have to comply with the strict criteria and framework as established by the board, they are assessed according to their sustainability as well as the size of the programme’s impact.

To learn more about the work of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, visit the blog from Spiro Latsis where you will discover a host of articles and links to programmes that have already received the organisation’s backing. The blog will also be useful to keep track of what programmes are in the running for the current set of grants and to monitor the progress of current programmes just like this research project into self-sensing nanocomposites.

The Team behind the Research

This particular project is a collaborative effort between four individual researchers. Dr Nikolaos Alexopoulos, a Lecturer at the University of the Aegean and Dr Evangelos P. Favvas from the National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritos have teamed up with French researchers Dr Celia Mercader and Dr Philippe Poulin to try and develop a cost-effective way to measure structural damage. Each member of the team is an expert in their respective field and three of the researchers currently work with similar nanotechnology and specialist materials.

Science Project-nanocomposites - infographic

The Purpose of the Project

Having a cheap but reliable way to monitor stress and damage in buildings and other civil engineering works is important in preserving the life of these costly structures as well as the health and safety of the general public. The goal of this research into self-sensing nanocomposites is to determine how viable graphene nano-platelets (GNPs) are as a building material when combined with cement as well as how effective GNPs are at monitoring the integrity of a building.

Of particular importance to the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and the people of Greece are the numerous sites of cultural and natural heritage that require constant maintenance. If this research is successful then having a low cost option for detecting structural failure in these crucial monuments to Greek history is going to provide a huge advantage to those tasked with maintaining them.

The Research Method

Given that before the project started it was yet unknown whether the GNPs would combine with the cement matrix to form a viable building material. This relied on the GNPs aligning effectively once they were mixed to reinforce the material, instead of clumping together which had previously been observed. The research team therefore has to overcome this aggregation in order to move forward with the rest of the research.

Once the GNP-cement mix has been prepared, it is time to test both the electric conductivity of the mix, which is important in determining the self-sensing aspect of the material and the durability of the mix. The former will be measured using the 2-wire Ohms method, with the latter being assessed using a three-point bend test.

Following these tests, the research team will perform an inspection of the GNP-cement mix to determine the durability of the material on a microscopic level. The aim of all these rigorous tests will hopefully determine whether this particular mix of GNPs and cement could prove useful in detecting structural faults in civil engineering works.

Funding Projects for the Future

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has always looked ahead when considering new projects to back, just like the team’s research into new building materials. If the team is successful then this has the potential of changing the way the world builds and maintains everything from homes to skyscrapers, bridges and tunnels. This new technology could save lives in areas prone to earthquakes and prevent the continued decline of the world’s heritage sites.

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Scientific Projects 2014

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is one of the organisations in Greece working towards improving the lives of the country’s hard-hit communities. As the nation puts the financial crisis behind it, the Latsis family, including businessman Spiro Latsis, continues the public service efforts so important to John S. Latsis, for whom the foundation is named.

The foundation’s supervisory board is headed by Latsis family members: Henrietta Latsis (president), Spiro Latsis, Marianna Latsis and Margarita Latsis. Together, the team has supported social welfare, scientific discovery, education and cultural initiatives both in Greece and around the world. The foundation undertakes programmes of its own as well as supports the programmes of others. Programmes funded in part by the foundation are considered partners, and the foundation seeks to provide support beyond just financial assistance.

In 2008, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation began to facilitate an annual open call for submission of proposals for scientific research projects. By providing funding to such endeavours, the foundation hopes to advance science research in Greece and open the doors for collaborations between local scientific groups and foreign universities.

In the seven years since the annual open call started, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has funded an average of 17 projects every year. Successful project proposals have been balanced between the areas of Social Sciences and Humanities, Life Sciences as well as Physical and Engineering Sciences.

The year 2014 saw 19 projects receive funding, with the project selection committee choosing innovative ideas from each of the aforementioned categories. One project that caught the eye of the foundation’s members pertained to the use of nanogels in regenerative medicine. An overview of the project is provided below.

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Nanogels in regenerative medicine

Proposed by a team of three researchers from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the focus of this particular project was to develop new therapies using nanogels that could advance tissue engineering. Nanogels are soft matter microscopic particles whose natural properties allow them to change shape and size depending on the environment in which they are placed. Nanogels can be used to mimic the biomechanical qualities of natural cartilage, and can thus be applied in medical situations where patients suffer from cartilage degeneration.

The project submission process

Projects are submitted to the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation through an online submission system that requires research teams to have an appointed coordinator who will acquire a personal account. Through the personal account, the team can submit a proposal during the submission period specified by the foundation.

Teams have the option of submitting at once or incrementally until the expiration of the submissions deadline. Relevant proposal information, such as contact information and the CV’s of the scientific group’s members, title of the project and details pertaining to the research undertaken (significance, schedule, expected end results, project budget and more) are included in the proposal.

Evaluation of the proposals is undertaken by a scientific committee that works in tandem with independent evaluators in related fields. The results of the evaluation are posted on the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, with project team coordinators receiving emails of the results as well. Research teams that are selected are required to sign contracts with the foundation, agreements that specify the terms of financing and implementation of the project.

Maximum funding for scientific research is 12,000 euros, which is expected to cover all expenses pertaining to the implementation of the proposed project. Independent teams are expected to manage their finances, while teams that are affiliated with research institutions and universities access the funds via special accounts set up by the parent institution.

Aiding advancements in scientific research

Private funders have gained the interest of researchers in recent years, largely because research groups can approach funders with issues that may not traditionally be considered significant enough to society to gain consideration. Often, private funding will be offered in regard to the size of the project; flexibility that might not be available when considering public funding. Research groups have the flexibility when creating proposals, and the bureaucracy that is sometimes evident in public funding procedures is typically eliminated with private backers.

Since the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation decided to support scientific groups with funds to facilitate their research, more than one hundreds projects have found the lifeline they needed to make a contribution to the body of scientific knowledge.

In an era where the Greek government is working steadfastly towards the re-emergence of the economy, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is doing its part to help ensure that scientific research in the country does not stagnate. The foundation’s continued funding of projects allows researchers the ability to continue finding answers to some of science’s great mysteries.

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Spiro Latsis Explores Socially Responsible Agricultural Practices

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has provided funding for a series of one year scientific research projects since 2008. The funding is divided into three main branches of science – social sciences and humanities, physical and engineering sciences and life sciences. Each year an open call is issued for applicants. Funding applications are decided by the Foundation based on which are determined to have the greatest multiplier benefit. The purpose of the scientific funding initiative is to both advance research activities across a broad range of scientific fields and to promote collaboration between Greek universities and research institutions and those overseas. In 2015, one of the research projects chosen to receive funding was research into consumer’s willingness to pay more for agricultural products certified to ensure fair conditions for workers. The project team is comprised of Andreas Drichoutis from the University of Ioannina, Jayson Lusk from Oklahoma University and Achilleas Vassilopoulos from the Agricultural University of Athens.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

John S. Latsis was a Greek entrepreneur and shipping magnate born in 1910 to Aphrodite and Spiro Latsis. Throughout his life, John S. Latsis was renowned both for his meteoric rise in the business world and for his tireless work promoting social welfare, education and scientific research. From setting up the Ileian’s Scholarships Foundation to fund post-graduate and undergraduate university places in 1967 to assisting in times of national crisis such as during the aftermath of the 1986 Kalamata earthquakes, John S. Latsis devoted much of his life to helping others less fortunate than himself. Since his death in April 2003, this philanthropic work has been continued by his family: wife Henrietta, daughters Marianna and Margarita and son Spiro Latsis, through the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation set up in his honour. John’s son Spiro Latsis also continues to oversee many of his business interests and makes regular donations to the work of the Foundation. The Foundation both implements internal initiatives and supports third party projects. The primary geographic focus is in Greece but many overseas projects also receive funding and many of the initiatives including scientific research projects are designed to promote healthy relationships and collaborations between Greece and the rest of the world.

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Agricultural Research Project 2015

The research project into consumer’s willingness to pay more for certified agricultural produce ensuring fair working conditions came about as the result of claims by Greek farmers that in order to remain competitive in relation to imported products and keep market prices fair, they are unable to provide the necessary fringe benefits for workers such as subsistence wages, access to housing and healthcare services or reasonable working hours. The research team will be composing questionnaire-based surveys to determine whether or not consumers are willing to pay more for their local produce given that they are assured the workers are provided with fair working conditions. It is hoped that the study will infer whether the costs of providing fringe benefits for workers such as a fair minimum wage and acceptable working conditions can be recouped through higher prices at market for certified produce.

What is Socially Responsible Agriculture?

Socially responsible or sustainable agricultural practices are becoming more and more prominent over the past two decades as the results of years of industrialised farming become clearer and clearer. In the period after the Second World War, there was great need to produce food more efficiently and technological advances made this possible. However, it has come to light that there are many associated costs with this method of farming, including the decline of family farms and of social and economic conditions in rural communities, damage to the land including topsoil depletion and groundwater contamination, neglect of living conditions for farm labourers and their families and increasing costs of production. Sustainable or socially responsible agriculture seeks to address these issues through the integration of three main goals – social and economic equity, environmental health and economic profitability. Sustainability refers to addressing the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations, the land itself and other land users.

The Need to Improve the Lives of Farm Workers

Agriculture is currently the second largest source of employment in the world, with more than a billion people directly employed within the sector. Despite this, agricultural workers remain one of the most oppressed and exploited groups. Of the billion plus workers within the sector, around 130 million are children aged between five and seventeen. Increased awareness has led to a growing demand among consumers to purchase only produce from certified socially responsible farms. Innovation and research projects such as the one funded by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation are crucial if we as people are to break the cycle of poverty for farmers across the globe.

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A look at the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and its role in funding scientific research in Greece

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was established by the Latsis family, in order to manage and implement activities which benefit the general public. Its board features several members of this family, including Margarita Latsis, Henrietta Latsis, Marianna Latsis and Spiro Latsis. The foundation, which you can learn more about on this website, provides funding for initiatives based both in Greece and in other countries around the world, with most of its activities focusing on projects related to culture, education, social welfare and scientific research.

Whilst many of these activities are implemented by the foundation, others are organised in collaboration with third parties. In the case of the latter, the board members work in partnership with their chosen organisation, offering not only financial help, but also other types of support, which allow for the best use of the money provided. The Latsis family members involved in this foundation understand that the needs of our society are increasing every day, and so funding must only be granted to initiatives which will have a far-reaching, and extremely positive impact. To this end, they deliberate over proposals very carefully, and employ long-term, strategic planning, which takes the foundation’s priorities and values into consideration.

Each year, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation helps to fund up to 25 scientific research projects within the fields of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social and Humanities Sciences. It does this via an open call, meaning that any scientific groups operating within the aforementioned fields can apply, provided they adhere to the terms and conditions outlined by the foundation.

With a generous grant of up to €12,000 for each of the projects that it funds, it’s no surprise that the foundation receives hundreds of proposals each year; in 2014, for example, a total of 946 applications were submitted. Of these, 19 were granted funding. The supervisory board which makes these decisions includes Margarita Latsis and Spiro Latsis, as well as a number of programme officers and administrators; this board carefully considers each proposal that it receives, in order to guarantee that funding is given to projects which will have a significantly positive impact on our society.

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The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has been providing grants for year-long research projects since 2008. The purpose of this funding is to advance scientific research in Greece, and to encourage collaborative work between foreign and Greek research foundations and universities. In its first year, the board funded 10 projects, three of which related to Physical and Engineering Sciences, with the remaining seven related to Social Sciences and Humanities. The following year, it funded 15 projects, and in 2010, it funded 21. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, it funded 17, 18 and 19 projects, respectively.

Last year, the board chose to finance seven scientific projects within the field of Social Sciences and Humanities. Considering the impact that the global economic crisis has had on our society in general, and in particular, on the Greek economy, it’s little wonder that two of these seven projects related to this financial crisis. The first of these projects was run by Martha Bouziouri, and focused on how the economic downturn had affected the social fabric of Athens. The socio-economic consequences of the recession have revealed new methods of collaboration, participation and coexistence, and in doing so have changed our ideas regarding self-organisation and solidarity; the goal of this study was to qualitatively and quantitatively reveal, characterise, track and interpret these changes, taking into consideration issues such as welfare cuts and economic hardship.

The second of these projects focused on fiscal consolidation policies in Greece. The team who carried out this research included Evgenia Vella and Evi Pappa, both of whom work at the European University Institute. Following the economic crisis of recent years, policy making has concentrated primarily on implementing extensive, long-term plans for fiscal consolidation; these include making cuts in government spending, and increasing taxation.

This research project examined the various types of fiscal consolidation policies that can exist within an economy which is known to contain an underground sector. With this in mind, the researchers used a model called DSGE (Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium), which focuses on involuntary unemployment, with legal services and commodities production that are intentionally hidden from public authorities, in order to avoid payment of social security contributions and taxes. Using this framework, the researchers investigated the unemployment and output effects of expenditure-based versus taxed-based fiscal adjustments.

The decision to take Greece’s underground economy into consideration when examining the country’s fiscal consolidation polices is a new concept; this study is the first to have ever done this. Fiscal policy and unemployment are two topics which are extremely relevant in Greece at the moment, and as such it was a logical choice on the part of the foundation board members to select this project for funding. However, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation does aim to finance research covering a wide variety of subject areas, and in addition to funding projects carried out in, and related to Greece, it also finances many studies related to international issues. This is an approach which the board will continue to adhere to under the management of its leader Spiro Latsis.

Spiro Latsis considers an example of how the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation supports the humanities and social sciences

The study of regional dialects is a niche area for researchers interested in aspects of anthropology, language, sociology and cultural studies. In those situations where the number of speakers of a particular dialect are dwindling, the challenge is to find out as much as possible about the language before it dies out. In 2014, one such endangered dialect was the subject of a study supported by Spiro Latsis and his family through the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation.

The study is entitled ‘Before the flame goes out: documentation of the Yevanic dialect,’ focusing on the Yevanic/Romaniote dialect of Greek Hebrews. The project team comprises Evangelia Vlachou, Chrysoula Papdopoulou and Georgios Kotzoglou – all three of whom are from the University of the Aegean. The dialect itself is confined to pockets of speakers in Chalkida, Ioannina and New York and there is very little in the way of academic research on the grammar of Yevanic. The study aims to build up a basic corpus of oral texts based upon interviewing members of the three geographical groupings of Yevanic speakers. Through linguistic analysis, it is hoped that the research will lead to the publication of the first ever grammar guide to this language.

Athens-born Spiro John Latsis is himself no stranger to academic research, having earned a doctorate in Philosophy in 1974 and later becoming a member of the Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton. The funding of academic projects is something the Foundation has been involved in since 2008 when its supervisory board, comprising of Henrietta Latsis, Spiro Latsis, Marianna Latsis and Margarita Latsis launched an initiative to advance Greek research activities. The Foundation itself was formed to honour the memory and continue the legacy of public works started by the family patriarch, John S. Latsis.

The Yevanic study is one of seven humanities and social science projects that were awarded funding through the Foundation in 2014. These projects cover a diverse subject range – from the willingness of consumers to pay extra for farm produce to ensure fair working conditions for agricultural workers – through to the politics of discrimination. A further 12 projects in engineering, physical and life sciences also received funding.

Clear objectives of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was officially formed in 2005 and includes current Latsis family members.The foundation is based in the Pallas Athena, an historical building near Athens. The foundation aims to continue the excellent public service work carried out by John S. Latsis. The Greek businessman and extremely successful entrepreneur dedicated much of his time to providing funding and support for groups and organisation that required it.

Spiro LatsisThe John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation possesses a supervisory board consisting of Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis. This supervisory board is responsible for ensuring that the funding provided to groups and organisations is maximised to its full potential. The foundation is particularly interested in initiatives that involve fields such as scientific research, social welfare, education and culture. The foundation aims to support groups and organisations that have a desire to take part in initiatives in these fields. Funding is primarily provided to groups and organisations in Greece, although there have been instances in the past when Greek expatriates have also been the recipients of support.

The majority of the funding and support provided by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is divided into two broad categories. The first category concerns the provision of funding and support for groups and organisations that wish to take part in schemes that have been planned and implemented by the foundation itself. The foundation provides the facilities, equipment and knowledge together with any necessary funding or support that may be required. The second category is in relation to schemes and initiatives that have been planned and implement by third-party organisations. Such schemes and initiatives are assessed by the foundation prior to support and funding being offered.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is aware of the need to maximise funding. They take great care to ensure that all of the support and funding is allocated to schemes and initiatives that will provide maximum benefit to all involved. In addition to this, the foundation considers the impact of each initiative on the general public. With an increased number of groups and organisations requiring support, the foundation is keen to ensure that funding reaches those that need it the most.

John S. Latsis and his service to Greece

Spiro LatsisJohn S. Latsis was a hugely successful businessman and entrepreneur who was also a dedicated and committed public servant. Born in Katakolo in the Peloponnese, he spent his formative years both studying and working, so that he could help support his large family. His hard work was rewarded when he graduated from Pyrgos School of Commerce, a significant moment in his early life that would play an important role in his future success. This early success within the trade and commerce success would be of great benefit in future projects undertaken by the businessman.

In addition to his business interests, John S. Latsis was a dedicated husband to Henrietta Tsoukala and the pair had three children, Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis. The first notable public service project that was established by John S. Latsis came in 1967 when he founded the John S. Latsis Ileians’ Scholarships Foundation. The aim of this project was to provide Greek students the opportunities to continue their education at a higher level. The scholarship scheme was designed to provide support and funding to students who could then go on and pursue their education and future careers. As it stands, the scholarship scheme has helped approximately 1,800 students complete their education.

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of his public service work occurred during 1986 when his country was hit by severe earthquakes and the  area in particular was badly affected. John S. Latsis personally provided shelter, food and accommodation to approximately 1,000 people affected by the earthquake. This remarkable contribution was achieved by allowing those affected to stay on one of his many cruise ships for almost two years whilst new accommodation was constructed. In addition to this, John S. Latsis contributed greatly to the provision of the new accommodation by donating one of his factories to the Greek authorities so that they could efficiently provide pre-fabricated houses that were fit for purpose. He also provided support and financial assistance following the earthquakes that would cause destruction in Greece during 1988, 1993, 1995 and 1999 respectively.

Other notable public service work carried out by John S. Latsis included providing support, donations and equipment to many state-run departments such as the Greek Fire Department and the Ministry of Public Order. Due to the nature of his shipping business, John was very keen to assist Greek sailors and the families during hard times or emergency situations and this was one of the initiatives that was extremely close to his heart.