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ERC Starting Grants 2012: Baden-Württemberg achieves above-average success

On September 10th 2012, the European Research Council (ERC) announced the results of the fifth funding round of its Starting Grants. Baden-Württemberg was awarded 13 grants, and is the state with the largest number of a total of 34 grants awarded to German life sciences researchers. Baden-Württemberg life sciences researchers will be receiving Starting Grants worth around 20 million euros.

This year, the ERC received a total of 4741 applications, which is the highest number since 2007. The ERC will now support 536 research projects in the life sciences, the social sciences and humanities as well as in physics and the engineering sciences with around 800 million euros in funding. Even with the rise in applicants, the success rate was as high as 11.3% (12% in 2011). The awards have been granted to researchers of 41 different nationalities who will carry out their projects in research institutions across 21 different European countries.

Germany comes out second in the list of grants awarded to EU countries with a total of 78 ERC grants, 34 of which are directed at research in the life sciences.

The following Baden-Württemberg scientists will receive ERC Starting Grants

Below you will find short descriptions of the life sciences researchers (in alphabetical order) in Baden-Württemberg who have been granted 2012 ERC Starting Grants. Further details are provided in the researcher portraits that have already been published on the BIOPRO website. 

Dr. Wolfram Antonin is the head of the “Dynamics of the Nuclear Envelope” Max Planck research group at the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory in Tübingen. He will invest the Starting Grant in a project focused on DNA decondensation.

Dr. Martin Beck from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg carries out research into the structure, function and organisation of the nuclear pore complex. He was awarded an ERC Starting Grant for his project entitled “Atlas of cell-type specific nuclear pore complex structures”. 

Dr. Fulvia Bono
is the head of a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen. She received a Starting Grant for her project entitled ”Towards a mechanistic understanding of mRNA localisation”.

The microbiologist and immunologist Prof. Dr. Andreas Diefenbach from the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene at the University of Freiburg Medical Centre will use the €1.5 million grant to investigate the role of nutrients in the intestinal immune system. 

The biochemist Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Freiburg receives a Starting Grant worth 1.64 million euros. Einsle’s work is focused on the structure and function of nitrogenase, an enzyme that plays a crucial role in plants’ ability to fix nitrogen. He will use the money to expand existing knowledge and transfer this knowledge to an artificial system. 

Dr. Ana Jesús García Sáez from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart investigates dynamic protein-membrane interactions. She was awarded a Starting Grant for her project “The quantitative Bcl-2 interactome in apoptosis: decoding how cancer cells escape death“. 

A group of researchers led by Dr. Patrick Heun at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg deals with the spatial organisation and structure of chromosomes as well as their inheritance in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. He will use the ERC Starting Grant of 1.75 million euros to expand his research.

Dr. Michael Hothorn is the head of a Max Planck research group at the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory in Tübingen focused on structural plant biology. He investigates signalling pathways in plant cells. He was awarded an ERC Starting Grant for his project “Identity and functions of polyphosphate polymerases in eukaryotes

The geomicrobiologist Prof. Dr. Andreas Kappler from the geosciences department at the University of Tübingen was awarded a Starting Grant with a purse of 1.5 million euros for his project “Microbial formation of minerals by communities of Fe(II)-oxidising bacteria in modern and ancient environments”. 

The palaeogeneticist Prof. Dr. Johannes Krause from the Institute of Scientific Archaeology at the University of Tübingen was awarded a Starting Grant worth 1.5 million euros. He investigates the evolution of infectious diseases with reference to historical pandemics. 

Dr. Oliver Röhrle, junior professor in the Simulation Technology (SimTech) cluster of excellence in Stuttgart, receives a Starting Grant worth more than 1.6 million euros for his research in the field of biomechanics. He will use the grant for research into musculoskeletal modelling with the aim of improving leg prostheses.

Dr. Carmen Ruiz de Almodóvar Egea is the head of a group of researchers at the Centre for Biochemistry (BZH) at the University of Heidelberg. She investigates the molecular and cellular similarities of the vascular and nervous systems. She received an ERC Starting Grant for her project “Neurovascular communication in the neural tube during development”. 

The work of Dr. Jan Wehkamp from the Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute of Clinical Pharmacology of the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart is focused on elucidating the causes of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. The ERC Starting Grant enables him to expand his research.

What are ERC Starting Grants?

The European Research Council (ERC) is an institution established by the European Commission with the aim to fund research projects in Europe. The ERC supports investigator-initiated frontier research across all fields of research with the overall objective of making the European research area attractive and competitive.

ERC Starting Grants are aimed at up-and-coming research leaders with 2-7 years of experience since completion of their PhD and a highly promising scientific track record, including publications in renowned scientific journals, the presentation of research findings at well-known international conferences, awards, prizes, patents, etc. Projects can be funded with up to 2 million euros for a period of up to five years. In addition, research must be conducted in a private or public research organisation located in one of the EU member states or associated countries.

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/news/erc-starting-grants-2012-baden-wuerttemberg-achieves-above-average-success