ResearchERC Synergy Grant for Heidelberg Mathematician

Anna Marciniak-Czochra receives highly endowed research award together with scientists from BioQuant, DKFZ, and Paris.

The ability of stem cells to renew themselves and to differentiate is at the centre of the project “PerPetuating Stemness: From single-cell analysis to mechanistic spatio-temporal models of neural stem cell dynamics” (PEPS). In order to create new cells as needed, the body possesses several systems of what are known as stem cells. These stem cells are able to divide, either to produce the required cells or to restore the stem cell reservoir. The PEPS project will investigate for the vertebrate brain how the balance between these two processes is maintained over the life span through complex interactions between the cells involved. To this end, the researchers will develop and combine experimental methods with data analysis and mathematical modelling. Two teams from Heidelberg University are making significant contributions to this research. Prof. Marciniak-Czochra heads the research group “Applied Analysis and Modelling in Biosciences” at the Institute for Applied Mathematics and is a member of the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing. Prof. Anders does research at the BioQuant Center with his group “Biostatistics for Omics Data”. The project is coordinated at the German Cancer Research Center by Prof. Dr Ana Martin-Villalba, who heads the DKFZ Division of Molecular Neurobiology and also has a professorship at Heidelberg University. Biologist Dr Laure Bally-Cuif is involved via the Institut Pasteur in Paris (France). The ERC is making available approximately eleven million euros for the PEPS project, with almost 3.8 million going to fund the work at Ruperto Carola.

The ERC Synergy Grants fund collaborative projects that, due to their complexity, are carried out by several scientists and their groups, in order to achieve breakthroughs that would not be possible in individual projects. For this purpose, the European Research Council allocates grants of up to ten million euros, in special cases also up to 14 million. The ERC Synergy projects may take up to six years.