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Two Major European grants for Groningen researchers

23 November 2023

Researchers Clemens Mayer and Danny Incarnato of the University of Groningen have been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant. The European Research Council (ERC) awards these personal grants of two million euros to outstanding scientists. With this grant, the ERC stimulates groundbreaking research in Europe.

The Consolidator Grant is for promising researchers with seven to twelve years of experience since completing their PhD. They can use the grant to fund their team of researchers and support staff for a period of five years.

Prof. Clemens Mayer
Prof. Clemens Mayer

Prof. Clemens Mayer , Stratingh Institute of Chemistry | project: ContiZymes - Continuous Enzyme Evolution - Solving Bottlenecks in Enzyme Engineering to Design Next-Generation Biocatalysts

Evolution is an all-purpose problem solver that enzyme engineers mimic in the laboratory to tailor properties and activities of biocatalysts for chemical syntheses. But such directed evolution strategies are notoriously labor- and time-intensive, as it manually stages the necessary mutation, selection, and amplification cycles.

Engineering enzymes faster

With his project, Clemens Mayer will establish a continuous evolution approach, making it possible to autonomously engineer efficient enzymes in a matter of days rather than months or years. This will accelerate the search for enzymes that can provide critical building blocks for the pharmaceutical industries, but also elucidate the sequence-structure-function relationships of these biocatalysts. Moreover, the data generated in the process will make it possible to train and improve machine-learning algorithms for the on-demand prediction of efficient enzymes.

Dr. Danny Incarnato
Dr. Danny Incarnato

Dr. Danny Incarnato , Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB) | project -  RNAStrEnD: RNA Structure Ensemble Dynamics in living cells

Incarnato will study the role of ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules in the cell. The aim of the research is to better understand the structure-function relationship of RNA molecules. Particularly, Incarnato and his team will investigate how changes in the structure of an RNA molecule are triggered and how these changes affect the regulation of cellular processes.

Changing the structure of RNA molecules

The detailed understanding of these structural dynamics could help develop new drugs to treat life-threatening diseases caused by defective RNAs by targeting pathologically-relevant RNAs, such as mRNAs encoding for currently undruggable protein targets.

In this project, Incarnato will combine cutting-edge experimental and computational methods, many of which he himself pioneered. 

More information on the ERC

The ERC supports talented young researchers in setting up research teams and starting up independent research projects. The Consolidator Grants are open to mid-career academics of all nationalities. An ERC grant enables researchers to initiate daring, ground-breaking research projects and open up new avenues in their fields.

Last modified:24 November 2023 11.31 a.m.
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