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Four University of Oxford researchers have been awarded European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grants of €2.5 million each over five years to explore their most innovative and ambitious ideas. These grants recognise ground-breaking projects led by researchers with a track record of significant research achievements.

Aerial view over the Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College, Oxford University

The ERC is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research, and the ERC Advanced Grants are amongst the most prestigious and competitive EU funding schemes. They provide researchers with the opportunity to pursue ambitious, curiosity-driven projects that could lead to major scientific breakthroughs. This latest call for proposals attracted nearly 1,650 applications, which had an overall success rate of 13.2%. Female researchers accounted for 23% of all applications, their highest participation rate in Advanced Grant calls up to now.

Two of the Grants have been awarded to researchers working in Medical Sciences:

Professor Dame Carol Robinson, Director of the Kavli Institute for Nanoscience Discovery, has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant to investigate how the mass spectrometry technology she has been developing over a number of years could be used in clinical applications. This will draw on Professor Robinson’s expertise in using mass spectrometry to provide unparalleled information on the structure, binding partners, and dynamics of proteins. In this new work, she will develop approaches to link the status of an intact protein receptor or transporter with its changing modifications and environment during disease progression. Ultimately, this could help reveal new targets for cancer treatment regimes.

Professor Neil Brockdorff from the Department of Biochemistry, has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant to investigate in cis translocated (ict) RNAs, a family of non-coding RNA molecules that have important roles in gene regulation in mammalian development.His studies will couple state of the art genomics methods with innovative live cell and super-resolution microscopy. Starting with the ictRNA Xist, which he has studied over many years, Professor Brockdorff aims to compare and contrast different ictRNA family members with a view to understanding the fundamental principles and molecular mechanisms underpinning their unique function in long-range gene regulation.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website