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Two APC Researchers Awarded Prestigious ERC Starting Grant

Competing against over 4000 of the world’s brightest scientific minds two APC researchers – Dr. Maria Aburto, UCC Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Dr. Piotr Kowalski, UCC School of Pharmacy secured European Research Council (ERC) grants.

Dr. Piotr Kowalski was awarded €1.5m for CIRCLE, a project developing cutting-edge circular RNA technology and new delivery methods to tackle unmet medical challenges such as sepsis, which is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide.

Dr. Maria Aburto was awarded €1.75m for RADIOGUT, a project investigating how our gut microbiome communicates with the brain by looking at development pre and post birth which could have ground-breaking implications for precision medicine and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

“The prestigious and highly competitive ERC Starting grants fund discovery research which could have a transformative impact on science. APC Microbiome Ireland are delighted that two of our researchers were among the excellent scientists awarded funding to pursue their biomedical research” said Professor Paul Ross, APC Microbiome Ireland’s Director.

“Maria is one of the most impressive scientists I’ve had the pleasure of working with and she has consistently impressed me with her passion for her innovative science. This project combines her strong background in brain development with the microbiome capabilities here in UCC and will be very impactful for the field” noted Prof. John Cryan.

Dr. Piotr Kowalski is leading an RNA delivery research team in School of Pharmacy UCC, currently supported by an Irish Health Research Board (HRB) Emerging Investigator Award. Speaking on the significance of this award both to Piotr and to the School of Pharmacy, Professor Caitriona O’Driscoll commented that ‘This ERC Award is due recognition for Piotr’s drive, enthusiasm and scientific excellence. Furthermore this new EU funding will advance the Schools burgeoning reputation as an international hub for RNA delivery research and developing RNA medicines of the future’.

Both Maria and Piotr participated in APC’s ERC Incubator programme initiated and run by APC’s EU Grants Manager Saba Loftus. APC researchers interested in applying for an ERC grant related to the Microbiome can sign up here: https://bit.ly/ERCAPC