Professor Paul Ross awarded prestigious ERC Advanced Grant
Congratulations to Professor Paul Ross, Director, APC Microbiome Ireland, and former Head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science, who has been awarded a highly prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grant to investigate viable alternatives to antibiotics.
Professor Ross, who is the first researcher based at UCC to secure an ERC Advanced Award, has received funding of €2.3 million for a project entitled BACtheWINNER. The funding gives Europe’s established research leaders the opportunity to lead ground-breaking projects to solve the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges.
Professor John O’Halloran, President of UCC, said: “I wish to extend the warmest congratulations to Professor Paul Ross on this significant achievement. This award will enable Paul to advance his pioneering, impactful research in microbiome science, a key area for UCC Futures at UCC. This award will drive momentum for this initiative and provide solutions to one of the most important global challenges of our time.”
Bacteriocins in the time of antimicrobial resistance
The rapid emergence and spread of resistant bacteria is occurring worldwide, endangering the efficacy of antimicrobials, including antibiotics and antivirals. The Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) crisis has been attributed to the overuse and misuse of these medications, as well as a lack of new drug development. The discovery and development of new antimicrobial treatments is now urgent.
The BACtheWINNER project will explore the potential of naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides (bacteriocins) produced by bacteria in the human gut and other sites for the development of new antimicrobial therapies. Bacteriocins represent a potential solution to the AMR threat by killing drug resistant bacterial while avoiding the collateral damage caused by broad antibiotics to gut microbiota, the collection of beneficial bacteria, viruses and fungi that inhabit intestines.
Together with key collaborator Professor Colin Hill, also based at APC Microbiome Ireland at UCC, Professor Ross will lead a team of scientists who aim to develop bacteriocins as effective antimicrobials to predictably edit microbiomes and target pathogens.
Revolutionising the role of bacteriocins in medicine
Professor Paul Ross said: “I am delighted to receive an ERC Advanced Award to further investigate bacteriocins as alternative therapeutics to antibiotics, in a time when we now appreciate the role of the microbiota in human and animal health. By investigating bacteriocins as potential clinical antimicrobials, we can explore antibiotic alternatives that are target-specific and do not cause collateral damage to microbiomes. Bacteriocins are the most important group of antimicrobial peptides with potentially revolutionary applications in health.”
Professor John Cryan, Vice President for Research & Innovation, welcomed the announcement, saying: "I congratulate Professor Ross in securing such a highly competitive and prestigious award from the European Research Council, which is testament to the transformative research taking place at APC Microbiome Ireland within our UCC Futures: Food, Microbiome & Health initiative.”