IMBA: Three IMBA researchers receive ERC Grants

Josef Penninger receives ERC Advanced Grant; Stefan Ameres and Kikue Tachibana-Konwalski receive ERC Starting Grants.

The Advanced grant is worth just under 2.5 Million Euro and will be paid out over a period of five years. By awarding the grant, the European Research Council has chosen to support a project from Josef Penninger the second time. Stefan Ameres and Kikue Tachibana-Konwalski will each get 1.5 Million Euro, also paid over a period of five years.

The ERC Advanced Grant funding targets researchers who have already established themselves as independent research leaders in their own right.

ERC Starting Grants aim to support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish a proper research team and to start conducting independent research in Europe. The scheme targets promising researchers who have the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders. It will support the creation of excellent new research teams.

3329 proposals in the area of life sciences were handed in for ERC grants in 2013. All IMBA applications were successful.

ERC Advanced Grant
Josef Penninger – HAPLOID (title: Yeast genetics in mammalian cells to identify and validate fundamental mechanisms of physiology and pathophysiology), IMBA senior scientist and scientific director

All somatic mammalian cells carry two copies of chromosomes (diploidy). Some organisms such as yeast are haploid, they carry a single set of chromosomes. Organisms with a single copy of their genome provide a basis for genetic analyses where any recessive mutation of will show a clear phenotype due to the absence of a second gene copy. Josef Penninger managed to create a mouse stem cell line with only one chromosome-set. The novel stem opens the possibility of combining the power of a haploid genome with pluripotency of embryonic stem cells to uncover fundamental biological processes in defined cell types at a genomic scale. The project aims to identify novel genes involved in cardiovascular physiology or pain sensing. Moreover the technology should be used to perform screens for potential anti-cancer drugs.

ERC Starting Grants
Stefan Ameres  -  miRLIFE (title: Molecular Characterization of the microRNA Life-Cycle), IMBA Groupleader since 2012.

Stefan Ameres aims to study the molecular mechanisms that regulate microRNA homeostasis. He aims to understand how distinct small RNA profiles are established and maintained to coordinate the expression of more than half of all protein coding genes in flies and mammals. Overall, his goal is to determine fundamental biological mechanisms of RNA silencing, a gene regulation pathway with enormous biological and biomedical impact.

Kikue Tachibana-Konwalski  -   ChromHeritance (title: Chromosoeme inheritance from mammalian oocytes to embryos), IMBA Groupleader since 2011

Kikue Tachibana-Konwalski aims to achieve a detailed understanding of the mechanisms of chromosome inheritance from oocytes to embryos. Her goal is to develop in vivo structure-function assays to investigate how chromatin reorganization and cell cycle progression are coordinated. With her discoveries in oocytes and zygotes insights into maternal age-related aneuploidy and infertility will be provided.

Also three researchers from the partner institution IMP get an ERC Starting Grant.

ERC Starting Grants for IMP
Luisa Cochella – MIRSPECIFICITY (title: Spatio-temporal specificity of miRNA function), IMP Groupleader since 2013

David Keays – CeMoMagneto (title: The Cellular and Molecular Basis of Magnetoreception), IMP Groupleader since 2013

Johannes Zuber - ChromatinTargets  (title: Systematic in-vivo analysis of chromatin-associated targets in leukemia), IMP Groupleader since 2011

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