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10 Million for Research: The University of Basel Receives four ERC Consolidator Grants

Three scientists at the University of Basel are being supported by the European Research Council (ERC) with grants of roughly 10 million Swiss Francs: The two biologists Prof. Christoph Handschin and Prof. Thomas Mrsic-Flogel from the Biozentrum, the zoologist Prof. Walter Salzburger, as well as Prof. Jennifer Keiser from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute each receive an ERC Consolidator Grant of 2.5 million Swiss Francs.

The ERC Consolidator Grants are being awarded for the first time this year. These grants will promote, for the duration of five years, excellent research projects of junior scientists who already have a couple of years of research experience. Overall 3700 scientists applied for this funding, 283 of which received a grant.

Research on muscles, sensory stimuli ...

The project of cell biologist Prof. Christoph Handschin from the Biozentrum at the University of Basel bears the title «Coactivator-controlled transcriptional networks regulating skeletal muscle cell plasticity». Handschin will study the molecular processes in trained and in sick muscles, as well as the origins of muscle diseases. The project aims at a comprehensive analysis of the molecular processes inside the muscle with the aid of modern sequencing methods and computer analysis. The results will provide specific approaches to the therapy of muscle diseases or age-related muscle wasting.

The neurobiologist Prof. Thomas Mrsic-Flogel, who has been working at the Biozentrum since 2013, is studying in his project «The organization of functional microcircuits in visual cortex» how the brain perceives and processes sensory stimuli. With state-of-the-art imaging technique and electrophysiology he wants to find out how nerve cells interconnect with each other and how they interact to code visual information.

... cichlids and worm diseases

The evolutonary biologist Prof. Walter Salzburger from the field of Zoology at the University of Basel will be funded for his project «CichlidX: An integrative approach towards the understanding of an adaptive radiation of East African cichlid fishes». His research project investigates why and how more than 200 different cichlid species developed in the East African Lake Tanganyika. In particular, the project aims at explaining the genetic mechanisms responsible for this explosive speciation. In 2008 Salzburger already received a five year ERC Starting Grant.

A further ERC Consolidator Grant was awarded to Prof. Jennifer Keiser at the Swiss Tropical and Health Intsitute (Swiss TPH) which is associated with the University of Basel. She is receiving the grant for her project «Anthelmintic Research and Optimization» which works on the development and validation of new approaches to drug research and drug development against worm diseases. Her research will hopefully represent a further step towards global health.

Further Information:
• Prof. Dr. Edwin C. Constable, Vice Rector Research, University of Basel, phone +41 61 267 10 01, Email:

• Dr. Kurt Kamber, University of Basel, International Grants & EUresearch Basel, phone +41 61 267 28 33, Email:

Olivia Poisson | idw
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