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ERC Awards for Stem Cell Scientists

last modified Dec 04, 2017 12:44 PM
ERC Awards for Stem Cell Scientists

L - R: Kevin Chalut, Thora Karadottir & Kristian Franze

Cambridge stem cell researchers have been awarded prestigious European Research Council (ERC) funding to undertake pioneering research that can drive paradigm shifts in their designated fields.  The sole criterion for selection  is scientific excellence and the aim of the funding is to recognise the best ideas coming from the top scientists across Europe.

 Dr Thóra Káradóttir (Cambridge Stem Cell Institute & Department of Veterinary Medicine) will be using the funds to elucidate how neuronal activity regulates myelin plasticity in the central nervous system. 

 “Being awarded ERC funding offers a massive boost for my research group based here at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute” said Dr Káradóttir.  “We are excited to use the funds to reveal how neuronal activity regulates myelination, the process of insulating the nervous system to allow fast and coordinated electrical communication between neurons.  The work has the potential to revolutionise how we think about brain plasticity, and will have implications for disease where myelin is lost or damaged, such as multiple sclerosis and dementia”.

 Dr Kevin Chalut (Cambridge Stem Cell Institute & Department of Physics) will research the use of biotechnology for investigating cell fate choices. 

 “My research group is focussed on discovering how physical processes drive development and the function of stem cells” explained Dr Chalut.  “The ERC funding will be invaluable for developing and using new technologies to extend our understanding of how stem cells make fate choices.  We hope to formulate new strategies – based in Physics – to monitor and control stem cell function, with wide ranging impacts from fundamental scientific discovery through to drug development studies".

 Dr Kristian Franze (Cambridge Stem Cell Institute Affiliate & Department of Physiology, Development & Neuroscience) will investigate the integration of mechanical and chemical signals in neuronal guidance. 

 “We take a cross-disciplinary approach, combining expertise in biology, physics and bioengineering, to understand how mechanical and chemical signals are integrated by cells and contribute to nervous system development and disease” said Dr Franze.  “With the support of the ERC funding, we hope that our work will reveal new processes involved in CNS development which could lead to novel approaches to treat neurological disorders”. 

Many congratulations are offered to all three researchers from everyone at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, we look forward to seeing where these exciting research projects will lead!

Find out more about the ERC funding and to view other awarded grants here.