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European Research Council recognizes TUM researchers

Multi-million euro funding for research

Image: A. Scharger/TU München

Research news

Dedication to top-level research pays off. The European Research Council (ERC) has again awarded generous grants to scientists at Technische Universität München (TUM). Six researchers have been singled out for their cutting-edge projects in medicine, mathematics, computer science and physics. TUM has received 26 ERC grants since the launch of the scheme in 2007. This puts TUM in the top three most successful German universities at securing ERC funding.

Prof. Jürgen Ruland, Director of the Institute of Clinical Chemistry at Klinikum rechts der Isar, conducts research into inflammation and its signal paths in the immune system. Chronic inflammatory conditions can significantly increase the risk of developing cancer and other diseases. Prof. Ruland will use his 2.5-million Advanced Grant to investigate these interactions in greater detail.

Prof. Arthur Konnerth of the Friedrich-Schiedel Endowed Chair of Neuroscience has received a grant worth 2.4 million euros. He uses a new multi-photon microscopy method to study individual synapses in the brain in vivo. His project will concentrate on the auditory system, in particular acoustic information and how melodies, for example, are memorized. He will also analyze memory and learning disorders in Alzheimer’s sufferers. 

Funding for innovative physics, mathematics and computer science projects 

Physicist Prof. Alexander Holleitner has received an ERC Consolidator Grant worth 1.27 million euros for his research in the field of nanotechnology. His particular interest lies in electric circuits in nanostructures. As part of his “NanoREAL” project, Prof. Holleitner is studying the dynamics of electron movement in optoelectronic components. 

Prof. Massimo Fornasier examines ways to simplify complex mathematical calculations and simulations. He will use the Starting Grant of 1.1 million euros awarded for his “HDSPCONTR” project to develop tools that will help mathematicians reduce the often massive amounts of data used in numerical analysis. 

Prof. Andrey Rybalchenkohas also received a Starting Grant, in his case worth 1.5 million euros. His work involves writing programs that systematically check other programs for errors. Today, even simple word processing programs have become so large in scale that programmers are unable to test every single error scenario. As part of his “VeriSynth” project, Rybalchenko is developing new verification tools for the software programs of the future. 

Proof of Concept grant for new tomography procedure

Prof. Vasilis Ntziachristos has been awarded a second grant by the ERC. His latest success is a Proof of Concept grant worth just under 150,000 euros for a medical imaging method. Multi-spectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) uses pulsed, harmless laser radiation in the near-infrared spectrum. The irradiated tissue is heated up, causing tiny vibrations to occur. These can then be identified with ultrasonic detectors. The method provides high-contrast imaging of tumors and other lesions, even in deeper layers of tissue.

More on ERC funding and grants