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Professor Mark Szczelkun awarded 5-year ERC Advanced Grant

A picture of Prof Mark Szczelkun

Professor Mark Szczelkun

Press release issued: 11 April 2018

Professor Mark Szczelkun of the School of Biochemistry has been awarded a €2.2M Advanced Grant from The European Research Council (ERC) for his EPICut project on the Molecular Mechanisms, Evolutionary Impacts and Applications of Prokaryotic Epigenetic-Targeted Immune Systems

The project aims to unravel how bacteria defend against infection by bacteriophage DNA that has been covalently-modified, such as by methylation. This knowledge is vital to fully understanding how bacteria influence horizontal gene transfer, including the spread of virulence or antimicrobial resistance. A deeper analysis of enzyme function will also support protein reengineering to produce improved lab tools for mapping epigenetics markers in human cells.

Prof. Szczelkun has proposed an interdisciplinary approach that combines biophysical and single-molecule analysis of enzyme function, nucleoprotein structure determination, prokaryotic evolutionary ecology, and epigenome sequencing, to link molecular mechanisms to individual, population and community-level phenotypes. He will be assisted by a collaboration with Dr. Edze Westra at the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter.

The ERC’s Advanced Grants are awarded under the 'excellent science' pillar of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, and support exceptional researchers, who are leaders in their field, in undertaking ambitious research projects. In total, five senior researchers from across the University of Bristol were successful, placing the University 3rd in the UK in terms of the number of Advanced Grants awarded from the 2017 call.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said:

“These grants recognise those with a track-record of significant research achievements. The five grants awarded to Bristol academics have a combined value of €10M – a significant amount that will enable them to pursue their ground-breaking research for which the University is renowned,"

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