The University

Uppsala researchers to receive prestigious international grants

2015-12-08

Two Uppsala researchers have chosen as recipients of the European Research Council’s (ERC) Starting Grant of EUR 1,5 million. The prestigious research grant is awarded to prominent young researchers amid stiff international competition.

This year, 2 920 researchers applied for the ERC Starting Grant in the Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, and Humanities and Social Sciences.

291 young researchers have been approved grants and will be sharing EUR 429 million in total. This means a grant of up to EUR 1,5 million each for all of the approved projects.

10 Swedish researchers—six in Life Sciences and four in Physical Sciences and Engineering—have been approved grants. Three of them are researchers at Uppsala University:

  • Lars Forsberg, at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, will receive funding for the project ‘Mosaic loss of chromosome Y (LOY) in blood cells - a new biomarker for risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease in men’.
  • Monica Guica, Department of Physics and Astronomy, will receive funding for the project ‘Emergent space-time and maximally spinning black holes’.
  • Anna Rosling at the Department of Ecology and Genetics will receive funding for the project ‘Evolutionary Stability of Ubiquitous Root Symbiosis’.

Lars Forsberg’s research focuses on lifetime-acquired genetic changes and their importance for health and disease. The most common type of such mutations is loss of the male sex chromosome Y in blood cells in elderly men (called LOY, for Loss of Y). Lars Forsberg’s previous research has shown that elderly men with LOY in a portion of their blood cells survive on average only half as long and run an increased risk of developing cancer.

‘It feels fantastic and very inspiring to receive an ERC Starting Grant. A grant like this is fundamental for me and my research group since we now have the resources to perform this important research project,’ Lars Forsberg says.

Monica Guica’s research deals with black holes in the cosmos. Black holes are some of the most fascinating observable celestial objects in the sky. But what they tell us on a deep theoretical level is that the two theories we use to describe the world—the general theory of relativity and the theory of quantum mechanics—are irreconcilable with one another. The solution to this dilemma is hypothesised to be holography. Monica Guica will examine how holography works in the real world by finding holograms of black holes in space.

Anna Rosling’s research revolves around interactions between plants, fungi and soil. Emphasis is on soil as a biological system, where fungi connect roots and soil. She studies how microbial processes shape soil development and how soil in turn affects ecological and evolutionary processes in fungi. Genetic diversity within and between fungi species is related to their ability to provide plants with nutrients from the soil.

‘The research helps give us a more structured understanding of soil. Despite us treading on it every day, it remains a largely unexplored universe with tremendous biological diversity and important processes,’ Anna Rosling says.

Read more about the ERC