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ERC Starting Grant for top researchers Thorben Cordes, Lude Franke and Mladen Popović

17 December 2014

Dr. Thorben Cordes, Prof. Lude Franke and Prof. Mladen Popović of the University of Groningen/UMCG have each been awarded a EUR 1,5 million ERC Starting Grant by the European Research Council. The grants will enable these talented young researchers to establish their own team to help further develop their research lines.

Thorben Cordes

Thorben Cordes

Thorben Cordes (Single-molecule Biophysics, ZIAM, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences) will study an important class of transport proteins, known as ABC transporters, the working mechanism of which is as yet unknown. He will do so using single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, a technique closely linked to the discovery that won this year’s Nobel prize for chemistry. ABC transporters are present in most living cells and transport nutrients and other vital substances across the cell membrane. Understanding the way these transport systems work could help to design drugs against pathogenic microorganisms, identify alternative therapies for drug-resistant cancer cells, or treat health problems related to ABC transporters. Cordes’s group recently published one of the first single-molecule papers on ABC transporters in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology , in collaboration with the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Groningen.

Lude Franke

Lude Franke

Lude Franke (Department of Genetics, UMCG) will use the ERC Starting Grant to identify new environmental risk factors for immune diseases. Many diseases have a genetic background but other environmental risk factors (such as viral or bacterial infections) must also play an important role. However, for most diseases these environmental risk factors are still unknown. In this project Lude Franke will identify these risk factors by using large amounts of genetic and gene expression data to study the interplay between genetic risk factors, the role of different bacteria and viruses, and their joint effects on disrupted cells, genes and pathways. He will develop new statistical and computational methods and will apply these to RNA-sequencing data from gene expression measurements on single cells.
See for more information: Big Data and Diseases [NL]

Mladen Popović

Mladen Popovic

Mladen Popović will use the funding to continue developing his pioneering research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He now intends to discover who wrote these ancient documents. ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls contain texts and versions of stories from what we now refer to as the “Bible”. They were probably left behind by the community that wrote them when they fled from the Romans’, says Popović. ‘We still do not know who actually wrote the texts or which texts were written first. This means that our understanding of what we call the writers community is incomplete.’ Using new techniques such as artificial intelligence and carbon dating in combination with palaeography (the study of ancient and historical handwriting), Popović will develop with Lambert Schomaker from the Department of Artificial Intelligence and Hans van der Plicht from the Centre for Isotope Research a new method for studying the Dead Sea Scrolls, known as ‘Digital palaeography’.
More: ERC Grant for Mladen Popović

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