Imperial College London

Imperial scientists receive grants of over €25m from ERC

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Brain cell neurones

The European Research Council has awarded over €25m to 11 projects at the College, including two prestigious Synergy grants

Imperial College London has been awarded over €25m in the latest round of funding by the European Research Council (ERC), including two prestigious new Synergy grants that promote partnerships in academic research.

Launched this year as a pilot, the Synergy grant scheme allocates up to €15m over six years for projects aimed at enhancing collaborations between lead researchers whose complementary skills, knowledge and resources can realise results that would not be possible if they were working alone.

The ERC received 710 applications for Synergy grants and have funded only 11 projects across the EU, which represent the top 1.5 per cent of proposals.

One of the projects at Imperial, called ‘Intelligent implantable modulator of Vagus nerve function for treatment of obesity’ (i2MOVE), was awarded to Professor Christofer Toumazou, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Professor Sir Stephen Bloom, from the Department of Medicine. They have received a grant of over €7,000,000.

The team will combine their expertise in bioengineering and endocrinology to create a device that mimics the response of the vagus nerve after eating, suppressing the appetite of a patient.

The second Synergy grant for the College was awarded to Professor Daniel Rueckert, from the Department of Computing, in conjunction with colleagues Professor David Edwards and Professor Joseph Hanjal from King’s College London and Professor Steve Smith from  the University of Oxford. Entitled 'The Developing Human Connectome Project' (dHCP), this project will use MR imaging to track brain connectivity in foetuses and newborn children, providing insights into neuropsychiatric conditions such as autism. Professor Rueckert has received a €3,250,000 share of a €14,974,313 grant.

While the Synergy grants are the most high-profile of the recently announced ERC awards, the College secured an additional €15m in Starting and Advanced Grants.

Dr Michelle Moram, from the Department of Materials, Dr Aimee Morgans, from the Department of Aeronautics, Dr Toby Gee, from the Department of Mathematics, Dr Tom Bell, from the Department of Life Sciences, and Dr Irene Miguel-Aliaga and Dr Till Bartke, both from the Institute of Clinical Science, were each awarded Starting Grants of over €1m for research projects over the next five years.

And Professors Ed Hinds, from the Department of Physics, Christos Vasillicos, from the Department of Aeronautics, and Peter Kohl, from the National Heart and Lung Institute, were each awarded over €2m from the ERC’s Advanced Grants fund.

Professor Donal Bradley, Pro-Rector for Research at Imperial College London, said: “This latest outstanding success in securing multiple awards from the ERC’s highly competitive funding schemes provides further recognition of the strength of research being undertaken across the College. Our involvement in two of the first round of ERC Synergy projects is a testament to the multi-disciplinary research ethos that pervades the College and, in both cases, also emphasises the College’s focus on the translation of research into practical solutions that address some of society’s most pressing issues.”

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