European Research Council awards for Crick Group Leaders

Group leaders Sharon Tooze and Caetano Reis e Sousa have each received Advanced Grants Awards of more than two million Euros from the European Research Council (ERC) to support research projects. The ERC announced the names of the winners on Friday 6 April.

Sharon Tooze heads up the Molecular Cell Biology of Autophagy Laboratory. She was awarded the grant for her project 'In vitro high resolution reconstitution of autophagosome nucleation and expansion catalysed by ATG9' (ATG9_SOLVES_IT).

This project will look into the development of a reconstituted system and identification of proteins and lipids, key components for autophagosome formation, which will provide a means to identify a new generation of targets for translational work leading to manipulation of autophagy for disease-related therapies.

Sharon said: "I am, of course, delighted to have received over two million Euros to support my research at the Crick, but I am especially pleased that the fundamental molecular cell biology and biochemistry work that we do in my laboratory has been judged worthy of ERC support."

Caetano Reis e Sousa leads the Immunobiology Laboratory. The funded project 'Steady-state and demand-driven dendritic cell generation' (DCPOIESIS) will lead to a greater understanding of the influence of environmental signals on cDCpoiesis and may have applications in the design of better vaccines and immunotherapies.

Commenting on receiving the award, Caetano said: "I am really pleased that my project is being funded by the ERC. We will use the grant to expand research into how dendritic cells, key immune sentinels, develop and colonise tissues. I am grateful to my lab members and to my colleagues at the Crick for all the input they provided into formulating the application and, of course, to the Grants Office for their invaluable support."

ERC grants are considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world. Grants worth a total of EUR 650 million, are given to outstanding researchers of any nationality and age working in one of the EU member states or associated countries. This year, 269 top researchers in Europe - only 12% of candidates - received Advanced Grants Awards.

The ERC evaluates award applications solely on the scientific excellence of the researcher and the research proposal.

Since April 2015, seven Crick group leaders have won ERC Awards: Jesper Svejstrup, Ilaria Malanchi, James Briscoe, Simon Boulton and Max Gutierrez.

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