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Heidelberg Molecular Biologist Receives Funding from European Research Council

Press Release No. 280/2010
19 November 2010
ERC Advanced Grant for Prof. Dr. Bruce Edgar – Research at the Center for Molecular Biology and the German Cancer Research Center
Prof. Dr. Bruce Edgar
Prof. Dr. Bruce Edgar

Heidelberg molecular biologist Prof. Dr. Bruce Edgar has been singled out for a generously endowed five-year grant from the European Research Council (ERC). ERC Advanced Grants are reserved for top-level researchers. The funding will amount to some 2.68 million euros, and will advance Prof. Edgar’s fundamental research work on the cell cycle and cell growth using the fruit fly as a model organism. Prof. Edgar comes from the United States, works at the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH) and also engages in research work at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). The present distinction for Prof. Edgar brings the total number of Heidelberg professors receiving ERC Advanced Grants since 2007 to five.

Acting within the framework of the DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, in 2009 Heidelberg University and the German Cancer Research Center succeeded in persuading the renowned scientist of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to come and work in Heidelberg. Prof. Edgar’s main research interest is the mechanisms controlling cell division. Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the scientist and his team have discovered and analyzed numerous genes and signalling pathways regulating the growth and proliferation of cells in various organs and tissue types of the living organism. In Heidelberg, Prof. Edgar is setting up a new lab to extend the scope of his research.

In the ERC-funded research project, the Heidelberg scientists will be using fruit flies and cell culture to investigate how the constant natural depletion of so-called epithelial cells in the intestine is offset by the regulated division and differentiation of intestinal stem cells. “Studies of model organisms have helped to identify and clarify the functions of various human genes that cause diseases,” says Prof. Edgar. “Our project can specifically help in identifying new mechanisms of stem-cell control and detecting genes connected with two frequent illnesses: chronic inflammatory bowel disorders and colorectal cancer.”

After studying biology at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Bruce Edgar (b. 1960) did his PhD in genetics at the University of Washington in Seattle. Subsequently (1987) he worked at the University of California in San Francisco and at Oxford University (UK). From 1993 to 2009 he was active in various capacities at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and also taught at the University of Washington, interrupting his activities for a sojourn at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg in 2000/2001.

The European Research Council was established in 2007. It provides funding for basic research with a view to advancing visionary projects and exploring new interdisciplinary fields of knowledge. It operates two open-topic lines of funding, ERC Advanced Grants and ERC Starting Grants. The sole criterion for the selection of research projects for advancement is scientific excellence and innovative potential. ERC Advanced Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers with an established reputation, while the ERC Starting Grants are designed to assist young scientists and scholars in establishing a distinctive research profile.

Prof. Dr. Bruce Edgar
Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH) and
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
phone: +49 6221 546827

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