ERC Starting Grants support young talented researchers over 5 years.
The IRB Barcelona group leader will focus on the genomes of hypermutated tumours to detect cancer vulnerabilities.
Today, the European Research Council (ERC) has announced the award of its Starting Grants to 406 early-career researchers throughout Europe. IRB Barcelona scientist Fran Supek (b. Zagreb, Croatia, 1981), is among this year’s awardees in a highly competitive call: the ERC received 3,085 proposals, of which around 13% were funded. Fran Supek said, “I am very pleased and honoured to have received an ERC Starting Grant. ERC funding is immensely helpful for young independent researchers as it allows us to think in the long term and to focus on the most exciting scientific ideas.”
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said, "Top talent needs good conditions at the right time to thrive. ERC Starting Grants are an investment that will pay off, boosting the EU's growth and innovation."
In February 2018, Supek, group leader of the Genome Data Science laboratory, will start a five-year project called “HYPER-INSIGHT”, which has received 1.5 M€ of funding. The aim is to study tumours that have accumulated an unusually high number of mutations — so-called “hypermutators” — to advance our knowledge of cancer biology and find new potential opportunities for personalised cancer therapy.
“The research proposed aims to pick up where the initial wave of tumour genome sequencing studies left off, making the best of the currently available genomic ‘big data’, while complementing it in a targeted manner by our own experiments,” explains Supek.
The project’s ultimate goal is to characterise the processes that cause mutations in humans, examine the consequences of a high mutation burden on the cell, and determine how to best exploit these consequences to target tumours while sparing healthy tissues.
“The time is right to realise the promise of cancer genome sequencing projects to improve the lives of patients, while also furthering our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying DNA replication and repair in human cells,” he adds.
In addition to cancer, Supek’s project might provide a better understanding of how heritable disorders arise, how human populations evolve, and how somatic mutations contribute to aging-related disorders.
Fran Supek is the tenth scientist at IRB Barcelona to receive an ERC grant.
More information: ERC website