Four Trinity researchers have been awarded grants from the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant awards, bringing Trinity’s total number of ERC grants to 24. The projects will receive up to €1.5m each.
The ERC Starting Grants are awarded to budding researchers with the potential to become research leaders in their fields. The grants are considered to be one of the most sought-after and competitive in the world and are awarded on the basis of scientific excellence. This year, there have been 3,170 applications, with 400 projects winning the funding.
The winning projects in Trinity include ChemLife, a project that aims to develop novel nanotherapeutics. Led by Dr Larisa Florea of the School of Chemistry and AMBER, ChemLife will see the development of microscopic vehicles designed to swim or crawl through fluids and deliver drugs within the human body.
Dr Maria Brenner has received the first grant awarded to a nurse in Ireland with her project, TechChild, which will explore influences on the initiation of technological support required long-term to sustain a child’s life. Speaking on the win, Dr Brenner said that “in awarding this grant the ERC provide me with an exciting opportunity to explore the coexistence of humans with an increasing availability of technological augmentations”.
ARCHAIC ADAPT, led by Dr Emilia Huerta-Sanchez, aims to investigate the aims of human evolution and disease through a combination of theoretical, computational, and biological methods.
Professor Eduardo Ruiz-Hernandez leads REACT, which will pursue selective therapies. Commenting on the significance of the award, Prof Ruiz-Hernandez said: “I feel hugely privileged to have secured an ERC Award and to be able to explore how nanomedicines can help us tackle the most challenging diseases. This exceptional funding represents an amazing opportunity to bring my research in smart biomaterials to the next level and connect with other European initiatives to maximise the impact of our ideas on the design of novel and more effective therapies.”
Professor Linda Doyle, Dean of Research at Trinity, commented on the impact that these awards will have on Trinity research, saying: “Many congratulations to our four awardees on their success in attaining these very prestigious ERC Starting Grants. These ERC awards are in the physical, health and social sciences and very much reflect the breadth of excellence we have in Trinity. It is important for Trinity and for Ireland to have such wonderful and diverse early-career talent leading the way in research.”
The ERC Starting Grants are part of the EU’s ongoing Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020.