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APC secures in-coming prestigious ERC Starting Grant

5 Sep 2023
Dr Brendan Curran (General Manager. APC), Prof John Morrissey (School of Microbiology), Dr Hilary Browne, Prof Sarah Culloty (Head of SEFS College)

APC Microbiome Ireland (APC), a world-leading SFI research centre, has secured its 5th prestigious ERC Award in 5 years. Dr Hilary Browne has been awarded  €1.5m under the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant programme to lead a major study at the APC on spore forming gut bacteria as a tool to target harmful pathogens.

The ERC Starting Grants are awarded to early-career researchers, with 2-7 years of experience since completion of their PhD, to lead innovative research.

Dr. Browne is a Senior Staff Scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute based outside Cambridge in the UK and will be joining APC Microbiome Ireland and the School of Microbiology in UCC to lead his project entitled: ‘SYNergize – Understanding spore-forming gut bacteria biology to target pathogens.’

The SYNergize project will study how beneficial gut bacteria transmit between people. Transmission of bacteria in our gut microbiome is constantly occurring, initially from our mothers when we are born and then later in life with the people that surround us. Despite most gut bacteria dying rapidly when exposed to air, some can make dormant structures called spores that are oxygen tolerant and can re-form a new actively growing bacterial cell when they reach the gut. SYNergize will develop an understanding of these spore-forming gut bacteria as a tool to target harmful pathogens.

Dr Hilary Browne said: “I am truly excited to be able to conduct my ERC funded project alongside leading experts in gut microbiome research at APC Microbiome Ireland. This funding allows me to understand how spore-forming gut bacteria transmit between people and how this impacts their evolution and functions.”

Prof. Paul Ross, Director, APC Microbiome Ireland commented: “This is a significant and important achievement for Hilary and we are delighted to welcome him to the APC team and look forward to working with him on the SYNergize research project.”

Dr. Browne’s award is part of a total of €2.7m ERC Starting Grants awarded to University College Cork – (more here).

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Host Logos - UCC and Teagasc

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APC Microbiome Ireland

Biosciences Building, University College Cork, Ireland,