Prof. D.J. Slotboom and Prof. A.M. van Oijen of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Prof. J.J. Schuringa and Dr E.A.A. Nollen of the University Medical Center Groningen will each be awarded a EUR 1.5 million European ERC grant for their research. The ERC grants are intended to further reinforce outstanding research teams.
This brings the total number of ERC grants awarded to University of Groningen researchers this year to seven – last month it was announced that Prof. J.G. Roelfes, Prof. C.H. van der Wal and Dr S. Otto had been awarded ERC grants (see: ERC Starting Grants awarded).
Prof. Dirk Slotboom (Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute) will receive an ERC grant for his research project ‘Minimalist multipurpose ATP-binding cassette transporters’, in which he studies how bacteria absorb vitamins. Although some types of bacteria can create vitamins themselves, many pathogenic bacteria – just like people – depend on the intake of vitamins from their food in order to grow. However, the mechanisms that people and bacteria use to transport vitamins into their cells differ. The research into the bacterial transport processes is fundamental in nature, but can in the future result in the development of new antibiotics.
Prof. Antoine van Oijen (Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials) was awarded an ERC grant for his research into DNA replication, the process that is responsible for copying the DNA just before cell division takes place. In his interdisciplinary research proposal ‘Single-molecule studies of the DNA replication machinery’, Van Oijen describes the development of new physical techniques that enable manipulation of one single DNA molecule and the visualization of the behaviour of individual replication proteins on that molecule. These single-molecule techniques should help him discover how DNA is replicated and how errors in this process may ultimately lead to disease.
Dr Ellen Nollen (Genetics) was awarded an ERC grant for her research into the role that the moag-4 (‘modifier of aggregation-4’) gene plays in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington, Parkinson and Alzheimer’s. She discovered earlier that it is this gene that regulates the aggregation and harmful effects of disease proteins during the process of cell ageing. Her research proposal ‘Protein damage control: regulation of toxic protein aggregation in aging-associated neurodegenerative diseases’ explains how Nollen aims to acquire a better understanding of these disease mechanisms.
Prof. Jan Jacob Schuringa (Experimental Haematology) was awarded his ERC grant for his research project ‘Human leukemic stem cells: from identification towards targeting and eradication’. This project focuses on the development of a ‘leukaemia clinic’ for mice, where new treatment methods will be tested in a patient-specific way with the ultimate aim of developing more effective treatment methods for leukaemia patients.
University of Groningen researchers who would like more information about applying for an ERC grant are requested to contact ERC consultant Neeltje Miedema.
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