Projects from the IRB, CRG, and UAB have been chosen in the latest edition of grants from the European Research Council (ERC), each worth up to €150,000. Catalonia swept 10% of the total grants awarded to researchers from all over Europe and 5 of the 7 grants awarded to Spanish entities.
Five Catalan research centers won ERC Proof of Concept grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC). These grants, which are worth up to €150,000 each, aim to foster the quest for business opportunities or proof of the practical feasibility of the results of projects in different fields of science. In the latest edition, which was determined this past September, grants were awarded to 50 scientists from all over Europe. Catalonia won 5 of the 7 grants awarded to Spanish entities, all of them in the field of the life sciences and healthcare.
IRB Barcelona – Group: Signaling and Cell Cycle
Ángel R.Nebreda, the head of the Signaling and Cell Cycle Laboratory at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) of Barcelona, is receiving this grant for the second time. The objective of his research is to develop chemotherapy treatments that do not damage the heart.
“The project seeks to develop a drug that can lower the cardiotoxicity caused by chemotherapeutic agents without affecting its ability to eliminate tumor cells,” Nebreda explains.
IRB Barcelona – Group: Colorectal Cancer
Eduard Batlle, The leader of the Colorectal cancer laboratory at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) of Barcelona, is also receiving this grant for the second time. His laboratory investigates colorectal cancer through a biobank of tumor organoids derived from genetically altered mice.
Batlle claims that, “biobanks of tumor organoids are tools with an enormous innovative potential to contribute to the development of new drugs to treat patients with advanced colon cancer.” The objective of his research is to expand the biobank of organoids of different subtypes of colorectal cancer through gene editing techniques.
Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) – Group: Design of Biological Systems
Luis Serrano, the leader of the Design of Biological Systems Group at the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG), has received an ERC grant for his research within the MycoVAP project (Bacterial chassis for treating ventilator-associated pneumonia).
The objective of the research is to eliminate the bacterial biofilms which are primarily found in the lungs of people with ventilator-associated pneumonia. To do so, genetically modified bacteria are used which allow antibiotics to be reduced in these patients.
Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) – Group: Chromatin and Gene Expression
The CRG received another grant in this year’s edition. It went to Miguel Beato, leader of the Chromatin and Gene Expression Group at the CRG. Centered around the IMPACCT project (Improved Patient Care by Combinatorial Treatment), its objective is to develop inhibitors which improve combined treatments in patients with breast cancer.
Beato’s group is part of the 4D-Genome project, which focuses on studying the three-dimensional structure of chromatin and how this affects its regulation and functionality. The results will serve as the basis for tests of new cancer treatments.
Institut de Neurociències (INc), Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) – Group: Mitochondrial Neuropathology
The last researcher in the BioRegion who won an ERC grant in this year’s edition is Albert Quintana of the Institut de Neurociències at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). His research group primarily focuses on studying neuronal susceptibility to mitochondrial disease.
The ERC Proof of Concept grant will help the lab continue one of its avenues of research based on antibiotic resistance. “The grant is a great opportunity to develop a new strategy which will allow us to combat antibiotic resistance, by bringing our project to market,” Quintana stresses.