Two scientists from the University of Basel have been awarded the prestigious ERC Advanced Grants by the European Research Council (ERC): Neuroscientist Prof. Fiona Doetsch and physicist Prof. Christian Schönenberger each receive 2.5 million euros of funding. Christian Schönenberger is one of the few scientists whose groundbreaking research has received an ERC Advanced Grant for the second time.
The ERC Advanced Grants of the European Research Council are among the most prestigious awards for basic research: 2167 applications were submitted in this year's call for proposals – 269 of which were successful and will be funded. Funding is provided for cutting-edge research that takes innovative and risky paths. Each research project generally receives 2.5 million euro over a funding period of five years. Since the ERC’s first call for proposals in 2007, researchers of University of Basel have consistently emerged successfully from the highly competitive selection process.
The behavior of stem cells in the adult brain
Fiona Doetsch is Professor of Molecular Stem Cell Biology at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. Her ERC research project “Neural Circuit Regulation of Adult Brain Stem Cells” will investigate how physiological conditions modulate the maturation and behavior of stem cells in the adult brain.
Recently, Doetsch’s team has discovered long-distance connections in the brain that target discrete pools of stem cells in their niche and stimulate the formation of specific neuron subtypes. In her ERC project, Doetsch wants to decode the heterogeneity of stem cell populations in the ventricular-subventricular zone and find out how neural stem cells integrate long-range signals from remote brain areas thus allowing “on-demand” neurogenesis in response to different physiological states.
Superconductivity of van der Waals heterostructures
Christian Schönenberger is Professor of Experimental Physics and Director of the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel. This is the second time he is awarded an ERC Advanced Grant. His research project “Engineered Topological Superconductivity in van der Waals Heterostructures” investigates the superconductivity of van der Waals heterostructures.
Since his Basel appointment in 1995, Schönenberger has been working on questions related to nanoelectronics, aiming to develop the unique properties of artificial atoms and molecules for applications in quantum information. In his ERC project, he will combine different materials in such a way that new physical effects arise, so-called topological states, which do not occur in nature but can be produced synthetically in a controlled manner in a suitable stack of van der Waals materials. Such novel topological states are quantum states that exhibit particular stability and are well suited for the use of quantum information.
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