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Researchers awarded €4 million in European Research Council grants

The ERC grants allow top researchers to execute their best ideas at the scientific frontiers, covering all fields of research.

28 March 2019

Two senior researchers from the University of Bristol have been awarded over €4 million in European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grants in recognition of their ‘excellent science’ and potentially ground-breaking research.

The ERC’s Advanced Grants support exceptional researchers, who are leaders in their field, in undertaking ambitious research projects. The grants are awarded under the 'excellent science' pillar of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme.

Professor Imre Berger, from the School of Biochemistry and Director of the newly formed Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology, is one of the recipients of the ERC Advanced Grants. 

The project; ‘Precision Docking of Very Large DNA Cargos in Genomes’ will implement a comprehensive synthetic biology approach to create new and powerful, virus-derived nano-devices with unprecedented capacity to rectify disease-causing errors in mammalian genomes.

The ground-breaking tools they develop will be applied to potentiate cell-based immune therapies, towards a step-change in cancer treatment.

Professor Berger said: “Correcting large sections of faulty code in the genome is a paramount, unresolved challenge in gene therapy. With this prestigious ERC Advanced grant we will bring to bear the power of synthetic biology to overcome this impeding bottleneck."

The University of Bristol’s second recipient of the ERC Advanced Grant is Professor Sarah Street, from the School of Arts, for her project ‘Film Studios: Infrastructure, Culture, Innovation in Britain, France, Germany and Italy, 1930-60’ (STUDIOTEC).

STUDIOTEC investigates film studios across four major production sites: Britain, France, Germany and Italy during their major years of activity, 1930-60. Using archives, comparative historical research and a range of spatial analysis, 3D and VR tools, the project team will explore studio spaces as dynamic, diverse creative and economic infrastructures.

This combination of interdisciplinary methodologies will create new understandings of how the collaborative and material environments of studio spaces and technologies shaped film production and cultures.

Professor Street said: “It’s an honour to have been given this fantastic opportunity to research European film studios in a completely new way. I’m looking forward to collaborating with a great team across disciplines over the next five years.”

The announcement today comes as part of a €520M ERC boost into research designed to investigate some of the most pressing questions that could lead to the creation of 2000 new jobs.

Further information

About the ERC

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced, and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between their pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.

To date, the ERC has funded some 9,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. Key global research funding bodies, in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil, and other countries, have concluded special agreements to provide their researchers with opportunities to temporarily join ERC grantees' teams. 

The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. The ERC President is Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. With a budget of €1.86 billion for the year 2018, the overall ERC budget from 2014 to 2020 is more than €13 billion - part of the Horizon 2020 programme, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible.

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