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11.10.19 ERC Synergy Grant for Jackson lab in European collaborative project on DNA damage response

last modified Oct 11, 2019 11:03 AM
Steve Jackson's lab is the first in Cambridge to be awarded a new European Research Council Synergy Grant under the Horizon 2020 funding programme from the European Union. Steve's research collaborators are in Switzerland and Austria.

ERC Synergy Grants awarded to 37 research groups to take on the biggest challenges

Curing cancer, tackling climate change, forecasting earthquakes - such challenges are simply too big to address for one scientist or scholar - even the most excellent. That is why the European Research Council awards the Synergy Grants. In the 2019 competition for these grants, 37 research groups were selected for funding. Worth in total €363 million, these special grants will enable groups of two to four top researchers to bring together complementary skills, knowledge and resources in one research project. The recipients will be able to tackle some of the most complex research problems, often spanning multiple scientific disciplines. This funding is part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.

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On this occasion, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The selected projects show the added value of EU funding for curiosity-driven research that is clearly relevant to some of people’s key concerns, such as healthier lives, a cleaner environment or a fairer economy. With each project gathering the complementary expertise of several ERC researchers, I am confident about the quality of the results of these free scientific endeavours. They are likely to open up new opportunities and equip us to deal with the challenges of the future.”

The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, commented: “The result of this grant competition is further proof that the ERC is able to support excellent ideas and outstanding people wherever they may be located. I’m glad to see that the share of grantees based in newer EU Member-States has increased since last year. Also, the ERC opened this call for the first time to talent outside Europe. Eight successful projects involve scientists based in US research centres. This will help researchers in Europe to achieve ambitious goals, as well as to increase the global standing of EU-funded research.”

Most of the selected proposals span traditional boundaries of disciplines. For example, one group will investigate relationships between climate and cities and will include geographers, a physicist and a meteorologist. A cancer research project will involve leading experts in different strands of biology and genetics, as well as a paediatrician. Another group aims to develop a cleaner way to produce chemicals and will employ researchers in chemistry, spectroscopy and material science.

Steve Jackson's project is called DDREAMM (Dna Damage REsponse: Actionabilities, Maps and Mechanisms). It is a collaboration with Jacob Corn of ETH Zurich and Joanna Loizou of the Research Center for Molecular Medicine in Vienna. Steve said “ I am very excited to receive this ERC Synergy Grant and am looking forward to working with my colleagues in continental Europe.”

The 37 projects involve 126 principal investigators who will carry out their projects at 95 universities and research centres in 20 countries across the European Research Area and beyond. Eight research groups will include one principal investigator working in the United States. The most common locations are Germany (involved in 20 projects), UK (12) and France (11). Women represent 24% of the grantees and will take part in 21 out of 37 projects.

The grants will help create some 1000 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, and other staff in the grantees' research teams.


Text from press release issued by the European Research Council.


Find out more about research in the Jackson lab.

Watch Steve Jackson describe his research in this short YouTube video.

Institute reopening

The Gurdon Institute reopened on Monday 15th June. Many staff will continue to work from home, and all staff may be contacted by email.

Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.

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