UCL Researchers Secure Prestigious ERC Grants for Groundbreaking Neuroscience and Disease Research

UCL Researchers Secure Prestigious ERC Grants for Groundbreaking Neuroscience and Disease Research

(IN BRIEF) Two UCL researchers have been awarded prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants, each receiving approximately 1.5 million euros. Dr. Marco Wittmann’s project, “DeepSocial,” aims to use non-invasive deep brain stimulation to explore the brain’s social cognition processes. Dr. Lucy van Dorp’s project, “Recovering Evolutionary Drivers of Malarial Parasites” (RED-MAP), seeks to define genetic and ecological factors related to malaria parasites. These grants support early-career scientists in launching innovative research projects. Female researchers received 43% of the grants in this round, highlighting diversity in ERC awardees.

(PRESS RELEASE) LONDON, 8-Sep-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — Two UCL researchers have received prestigious EU funding to help pursue cutting-edge research in neuroscience and infection disease.

The European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants aim to help exceptional younger scientists at the start of their careers to launch their own projects, form their teams and fulfil their best ideas.

The recipients, who have received approximately 1.5 million euros (£1.3 million) each, are:

  • Dr Marco Wittmann (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences, UCL Institute of Mental Health). His project, DeepSocial, aims to use non-invasive deep brain stimulation to reveal abstract representations underlying social cognition – the unique process that enables humans to interpret the social world and act adaptively within it. Dr Wittmann will use a new technique that uses ultrasound to alter activity deep in the brain. This will help us understand how the brain makes sense of complex social situations.
  • Dr Lucy van Dorp (UCL Genetics Institute, UCL Division of Biosciences). Dr van Dorp’s proposal titled ‘Recovering Evolutionary Drivers of Malarial Parasites’ (RED-MAP) seeks to define the genetic and ecological drivers of malaria parasites. Her work will harness analysis of genomic data obtained from historic human and non-human primate infections, spanning malaria’s deep history, together with new computational biology techniques. Using this toolkit Dr van Dorp’s research will offer crucial new insights into the ongoing challenge of malaria.

Professor Geraint Rees, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement), said: “Congratulations to Dr Wittmann and Dr van Dorp for being awarded these prestigious grants. It is testament to their outstanding research and highlights UCL’s innovative approaches to solving some of the world’s most pressing issues. I look forward to seeing the impact of their work both in Europe and beyond.”

The UCL academics were among 400 researchers across Europe awarded a total of 628 million Euros (£537 million) by the ERC as part of the Horizon Europe programme. Female researchers were awarded 43% of grants, compared to 39% in 2022.

ERC President, Professor Maria Leptin, said: “It is part of our mission to give early-career talent the independence to pursue ambitious curiosity-driven research that can shape our future. In this latest round of Starting Grants, we saw one of the highest shares of female grantees to date, which I hope will continue to rise. Congratulations to all winners and good luck on your path to discovery.

The ERC was created by the European Union in 2007 and is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research.


Media Contact:

Poppy Danby
E: p.danby [at] ucl.ac.uk

SOURCE: University College London



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