ERC Consolidator: two grants for UCL

Published on December 04, 2017

Alexandru Vlad (IMCN) and Guido Bommer (de Duve Institute) were each awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant of €2 million over five years in support of their research.

The European Research Council offers a range of funding mechanisms including the Consolidator Grant, a very prestigious programme that aims to encourage talented research leaders to consolidate their research and make first-rate contributions to science.

The funding will allow Alexandru Vlad of the MOST division of UCL’s Institute of Condensed Matter and Nanosciences (IMCN) to lead the MOOiRE project. It addresses major challenges in research for a sustainable future, given that energy storage has become the essential element in a wide range of technologies. The project targets development of new materials and technologies in which anions and cations present reversible and cumulative effects that can have an impact in this field. An important step in the project is the formulation of hybrid organic-inorganic chemistry and electrodes that allow for the reception of ions from the electrolyte as well as for the delocalisation of charges during electrochemical processes, which promotes reversible multi-electronic energy storage. This should allow for the fabrication of laboratory prototype cells with improved energy density, at a lower cost than that of batteries currently on the market. In addition, it will provide an overview of new porous composite materials, sorption, ion exchange and electrocatalysis processes.

Guido Bommer (de Duve Institute) and his team recently discovered a new metabolic pathway involving two metabolites that had never been described. Metabolic adaptations play a key role in cancer. However, even though some of these adaptations have been known for nearly 100 years, the success of therapeutic interventions on major therapeutic pathways remains quite limited. Biochemistry books present intermediate metabolism as if it were completely understood. But while the molecular identities of most of the enzymes necessary for the production of intermediate metabolites are known, many are proteins of unknown function, encoded by our genome, which are very likely metabolic enzymes. This indicates that there are still some metabolic pathways to discover, such as the one recently identified by Bommer’s team.

With the help of the ERC grant, Bommer’s team will use a multidimensional approach combining biochemical, genetic and pharmacological techniques to identify the missing components of the new metabolic pathway they have discovered and evaluate its role in cellular metabolism and cancer development.