CeMM: Two ERC Starting Grants awarded to CeMM Principal Investigators Andreas Bergthaler and Christoph Bock

It is with great pleasure to announce that the European Research Council has awarded ERC Starting Grants to two Principal Investigators in 2015. CeMM congratulates Andreas Bergthaler and Christoph Bock and their teams for receiving this prestigious and well-endowed grants!

Andreas Bergthaler joined CeMM in 2011. He studied Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, and undertook graduate and postgraduate research with Hans Hengartner and Rolf Zinkernagel at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, followed by postdoctoral positions with Daniel Pinschewer at the University of Geneva and with Alan Aderem at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Andreas is interested in how our immune systems responds to viral infections. Andreas combines a veterinary background with an extensive knowledge in systems biology, innate immunity, and viral infections. This combination of skills is extremely valuable for our highly collaborative and multi-disciplinary projects at CeMM, for the other immunology-orientated groups at CeMM as well as for the entire institute with its systems-level approach to diseases.

In the ERC Starting Project “CMIL: Crosstalk of Metabolism and Inflammation” Andreas is proposing to look at how metabolism and inflammation will affect each other. Metabolism is part of CeMM’s strategic focus as it also impacts areas important to CeMM, such as cancer, metabolic disorders and the mechanism of action of drugs.

Christoph Bock joined CeMM in 2012. He did his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Saarbrücken, and was a postdoctoral fellow with Alexander Meissner at the Broad Institute and the Harvard Department for Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. Although trained as a computational scientist, Christoph has successfully established a wet-lab team as part of his computational and experimental research group at CeMM, and he has already made major contributions to the state-of-the-art in epigenome technology, for example an assay for single cell DNA methylation mapping. Christoph coordinates the next generation sequencing activities of CeMM and the Medical University of Vienna, and has become the key driver for the institute’s citizen science activities, most notably with the recent launch of “Genom Austria”, the first public Personal Genome Project in Continental Europe (www.genomaustria.at).

The ERC Starting Project “Epigenome Programming: An experimental and bioinformatic toolbox for functional epigenomics and its application to epigenetically making and breaking a cancer cell” empowers Christoph’s research group with the ability to go beyond technology development and tackle urgent cancer biology questions. This is a central question in cancer therapy: how does epigenomics shape the genome of cancer cells, affect drug response and modify its efficacy? Why does it result, much too often, in resistance? These are the key questions that Christoph wants to tackle in this ERC Starting grant. CeMM is perfectly equipped, both culturally and in terms of infrastructure, to support Christoph’s endeavor.

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