ERC Synergy grant for Dogterom (TUD) and Akhmanova (UU)
Prof.dr. Marileen Dogterom, from 1 January head of the TNW Bionanoscience Department, and prof.dr. Anna Akhmanova from Utrecht University will receive an ERC Synergy Grant of 7,1 million euro for their research project into internal biological cell organization.
Dogterom and Akhmanova aim to understand the basic principles of internal cell organization. This knowledge will eventually enable them to control essential cellular processes such as cell movement and division. Akhmanova: “Though our research is fundamental, the knowledge is vital to eventual applications. Growing artificial organs or treating cancer is very hard if you don’t know exactly what goes on inside biological cells.”
The cytoskeleton is a network of protein filaments responsible for the organization and transport of cellular components. The researchers will study and manipulate the cytoskeleton on various levels. They will use light to switch ‘on’ or ‘off’ the molecular interactions that control cytoskeletal organization, allowing them to manipulate the systems that they will study.
The researchers will study real cells as well as artificial ones. Dogterom: “Artificial cells allow us to mimic the process taking place in real cells, while using a small amount of components. This enables us to study the effects of certain manipulations very accurately.”
The ERC Synergy Grants of the European Research Council (ERC) are intended to enable interdisciplinary collaboration between excellent scientists. Marileen Dogterom is currently employed at the FOM Instituut AMOLF and will be head of the Delft University of Technology Bionanoscience Department from 1 January 2014. Anna Akhmanova works at Utrecht University.
Other researchers who will contribute to the program by bringing in additional expertise are Gijsje Koenderink, Bela Mulder en Pieter Rein ten Wolde (AMOLF) and Lukas Kapitein en Sander van den Heuvel (Utrecht University).