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New ERC grants awarded to JU research projects

New ERC grants awarded to JU research projects

JU scientists from the Faculty of Chemistry and the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology are among the winners of the prestigious Starting Grant programme of the European Research Council (ERC). The list of this year’s grant recipients, published on 10 January 2022, consists of 397 researchers from 22 European countries, who were selected out of more than 4 thousand applicants.

ERC grants provide researchers with means to carry out creative and innovative projects. The ERC has adopted a bottom-up strategy, without defining the research topics, which means that scholars from all fields of study can apply for the grants. The researchers are also free to form their own team and choose the institution, where they will run the project. The project leader is granted full autonomy in his studies has the right to decide on all research and financial matters related to the project.

The European Research Council provides funding for projects that are up to three years long. The Starting Grants are addressed to researchers who obtained their PhD degree 2-7 years ago. The maximum grant amount is 1.5 mission euros.

The list of this year’s Starting Grants winners, published on 10 January 2022, consists of 397 researchers from 22 European countries, who will receive a total of 619 million euros. Over 4 thousand scholars had applied for the grants, 9.8 percent of whom succeeded in gaining funding. Most grants were awarded to researchers from Germany (72), France (52), the United Kingdom (46), and the Netherlands (44). Eight projects will be carried out at five Polish research institutions: the Jagiellonian University, the University of Warsaw, the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Foundation of Admirers and Mavens of Economics.

“Within the framework of the Starting Grant programme, the European Research Council has awarded grants to two Jagiellonian University scientists. This is a great news for a number of reasons … What is most important is the fact that both applications were submitted by teams strongly rooted in the research environment of the Jagiellonian University, specialising in stem cells (at the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology) and in molecular magnetism (at the Faculty of Chemistry). This proves that our researchers have achieved excellence in diverse fields. Th University is dedicated to support scholars applying for prestigious international grants and will further increase its efforts in this regard. I strongly hope that this will lead to even more success in the near future”, said Prof. Piotr Kuśtrowski, JU Vice-Rector for Research.

One of the grants was awarded to Dr hab. Szymon Chorąży from the JU Department of Inorganic Chemistry. The LUMIFIED is aimed at the discovery of the new generations of functional molecular materials whose optical properties, including photoluminescence and circularly polarized luminescence, will be switched by a broad set of physical stimuli, such as magnetic field, electric field, and electromagnetic radiation (light). The resulting materials are expected to be a great source of advanced optical memories of impressive data storage density.

‘The goal of the project is to cross the current limits existing for multifunctional materials based on homogenous solids, including the limits regarding the number of physical effects that can be implemented into a single-phase material, and the limits concerning the number of phenomena occurring thanks to the coupling between introduced physical properties, represented by the diversity of external stimuli governing the state of the obtained material … The LUMIFIELD project is also aimed at the formulation of general rules governing the effective control of luminescent effects through external stimuli in the materials based on metal complexes. It will also enable the formation of a high-quality research group working in the field of chemistry of materials’, explains Dr hab. Szymon Chorąży.

The second grant-winning project will be carried out by Dr Krzysztof Szade from the JU Department of Medical Biotechnology. His research aims to investigate how blood-forming blood cells adapt to stress situations. The goal of the study is to clarify whether the blood-forming stem cells possess epigenetic memory that enables them to more effectively respond to the recurring stimulation with stress factors.

‘The project proposes to clarify the mechanism of memory of blood-forming stem cells at single cell level based on new transgenic mouse models, and also includes studies on human blood forming stem cells. These studies may improve our knowledge on how blood is formed and lead to new clinical strategies’, explains Dr Krzysztof Szade.

 

The full list of this year's Starting Grant programme winners is available on the European Research Council Website.

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