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ERC Provides $809M in 'Starting Grants' for Life Sciences Research

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The European Research Council has named the winners of its 2010 'Starting Grants,' awarding a total of over €580 million ($809 million) in funds to 427 young researchers — more than one third of them in the life sciences — with potentially pioneering ideas.

The ERC grants in this third call of the program are valued at up to €2 million each and are aimed at funding bold ideas in any field throughout Europe.

This year, the competition funded candidates from 39 nations who will be conducting their research in 21 different countries. The average age of these scientists is 36, and 27 percent of them are women. The winners were chosen from a total of 2,873 applicants, which was an increase of 14 percent over last year, although the success rate of landing a grant also increased 15 percent.

"With these awards, the ERC is investing in both new projects and new talent," ERC Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said in a statement.

"Excellence in the kind of cutting-edge science funded by the ERC is a prerequisite for creating an Innovation Union in Europe and ultimately for achieving the EU's "Europe 2020" objective of sustainable growth," she added.

Many of the Starting Grants in the life sciences involve 'omics-based research projects, such as a grant to Stephanie Blandin at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) to study the genetics of resistance to malaria parasites in the Anopheles gambiae mosquito; an award to Bjoern Schumacher at the University of Cologne to research genome stability mechanisms in aging; a grant to Yaron Shav-Tal to conduct studies of gene expression explored in space and time using single-gene and single-molecule analysis; and a grant to Philip Karl-Josef Tinnefeld at Ludwig-Maximilians - Unversity Muenchen to conduct studies of single-molecule bioassays at elevated concentrations.