Young researchers attract prestigious funding from the European Research Council

Four early-career researchers at CRG and ISGlobal have received the very competitive ERC Starting Grants to study cancer, ageing, evolution and infectious diseases.

The ERC is the major European research funding agency.

The ERC is the major European research funding agency. Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.

The flagship research funding body of the European Union, the European Research Council (ERC), has just announced the recipients of its 2019 ERC Starting Grants, aimed at “talented early-career scientists who have already produced excellent supervised work, are ready to work independently and show potential to be research leaders”.

The very competitive and generous funding (only 13% of the applications were selected, with €621 million going to 408 researchers all over Europe) has been awarded to 20 researchers in Spain; 10 of these awards went to Barcelona, and of these 4 to researchers at Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) centres.

The three Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) researchers who have received these up to 1.5 milion €, 5-year grants are:

  • Sara Sdelci, with the project EPICAMENTE, she will explore which enzymes are essential for cancer proliferation, in order to find ways to halt them. You can read more about her research here.
  • Arnau Sebé-Pedrós and his project EvoCellMap, which will try to trace the origin and evolution of different types of animal cells
  • Nick Stroustrup, with the project SYSAGING, aims to find new ways to map the molecular changes linked to ageing and disease.

You can read more about them in the CRG news website.

Another ERC Starting Grant awardee works at Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) (Clinic Campus)

  • Oriol Mitjà, who will look for alternative treatments for syphilis.

You can read more about him in the ISGlobal news website.

For more about the results of this ERC Starting Grants call see the ERC website.


The ERC is the major scientific public funder in the EU. It offers grants for different stages of the scientific career:

  • ERC Starting Grants, worth up to 1.5€ million and lasting for 5 years. Aimed at promising early-career researchers with less than 7 years experience after PhD
  • ERC Consolidator Grants, worth up to 2€ million, also for 5 years. For excellent researchers with 7 to 12 years experience after their PhD.
  • ERC Advanced Grants, worth up to 2.5€ million for 5 years. These are given to established research leaders with a recognised track record of achievements.

Apart from these individual grants, the ERC also offers other funding with specific purposes:

  • Proof of Concept (PoC) grants, worth €150,000 each. These are given to researchers to explore the commercial or societal potential of a particular work.
  • Synergy Grants. The largest grants of the ERC, up to 10€ million to spend in 6 years. These are awarded to a small group of researchers (2 to 4) who do coordinated work to address ambitious research questions.


Researchers at the PRBB centres have attracted 33 ERC grants since the program started in 2007.


With these newly awarded grants, the PRBB centres have successfully attracted 33 out of the 145 ERC grants that Spain has received in the life sciences domain since the program started in 2007. These 33 grants have mostly been individual grants (Starting, Consolidator and Advanced), but included also two Synergy and four Proof of Concept Grants.


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