Three University of Groningen researchers have received substantial, prestigious grants for new research from the ERC. Monika Baár and Jianting Ye were each awarded a Consolidator Grant worth EUR 2 million, and Anna Salvati received a Starting Grant of EUR 1.5 million. In December three other researchers of the University of Groningen/UMCG already received an ERC Starting Grant.
Monika Baár will use the funding to study the global impact of the UN Year of Disabled Persons in 1981. ‘Until now, the Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 has been ignored and forgotten in almost all modern historical documentation’ explains Baár. ‘This is not only a great pity, but also totally unjustified. This year can be seen as a turning point, just like 1968. It was the first time that the ‘handicapped’ were given a voice and an identity, and we were shown just how loaded the term ‘disabled’ is in western society.’ Baár has been working in the Faculty of Arts since 2009. She specializes in modern history, with a particular interest in marginal groups. Baár has been very successful in acquiring external funding, one of her more recent successes being a Wellcome Grant for her research on the history of training and using guide dogs for the blind.
Justin Ye's project represents an exciting new research field that is attracting the attention of many research groups around the world. Ye (Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences) will develop electronic devices based on a tunable ion-gated interface for novel functionalities. The transistors are not conventional ones. They are built by merging the disciplines of electrochemistry, solid state physics, and device physics. By combining newly synthesized ionic materials and a well-defined interface optimized by surface analysis techniques, th ion-gated device operates with very high efficiency so that quantum phases of superconductivity and ferromagnetism can be controlled and utilized as electronic functionalities. Ye's research project, entitled "Ion-gated interfaces for quantum phase devices ', will run for 5 years.
, assistant professor at the Division of Pharmacokinetics, Toxicology and Targeting ( Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science) has received an ERC Starting Grant of EUR 1.5 million. She will study how nanoparticles, that can carry drugs, are taken up and processed by cells.
When drugs are administered by mouth or as an infusion, they will be transported throughout the body. This is one reason why so many drugs have side effects. Targeting drugs to the specific cells that need them would be a great improvement. Nanoparticles, like small lipid vesicles or polymer structures, could be designed to carry drugs to specific sites in the body. However, very little is known about the way these nanoparticles are handled by cells.
‘That is why translation of nanomedicines to the clinic remains a challenge’, says Salvati. She therefore wants to study the interaction between nanoparticles and cells: to find out how they are taken up and processed in the cell.
The ERC Consolidator Grant is worth EUR 2 million and is awarded every year to Europe’s best researchers. Around 8 percent of research proposals are awarded a grant. An ERC Starting Grant is worth EUR 1.5 million and allows talented young researchers to set up their own team and further develop their research direction. Three other University of Groningen researchers also received a Starting Grant last December.
With the XS grants, NWO strives to encourage curiosity-driven and bold research involving a quick analysis of a promising idea. A special aspect is that the applicants themselves assess the other applications.
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