Prestigious ERC grants for Groningen scientists
Approximately three hundred scientists, including 28 from the Netherlands, have been awarded two-million ERC grants for ‘daring and groundbreaking research, and to make new inroads in science’. The ERC (European Research Grant) has evaluated almost 2,500 research proposals.
Marleen Kamperman (1979) is professor of polymer science and focuses on creating new materials. ‘My current focus is on materials that adhere to a wet surface. These could be used on the human body for example, to glue wounds shut instead of suturing them.’
Kamperman hopes to use the ERC grant to develop new materials through environmentally friendly processes. ‘In nature, various organisms create all sorts of fantastic materials, like an octopus beak, spider silk, and the velvet worm’s slime, without using any harmful solvents.’
Many of these materials consist of proteins, and before they reach their final form, they’re encased in their organism in liquid form. ‘The transformation from liquid to the end product is a really interesting process, and I want to study it and simulate it in the lab. I hope to develop a variety of new materials.’
Geert van den Bogaart (1980) studied molecular biology and has been a professor of molecular immunology and microbiology in Groningen since 2018.
His research is focused on the connection between the innate immune system and the acquired one. The innate immune system is a quick but not very specific reaction to pathogens. The acquired immune system is slower, but much more purposeful and is necessary when the innate immune system can’t get rid of an infection itself.
Van den Bogaart wants to use the ERC grant to study why, in an infection, an immune response to the pathogens is created, at the same time preventing an auto-immune disease.