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ERC Synergy Grant to Eduardo Villablanca

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The project CartoHostBug (Funtional cartography of intestinal host-microbiome interactions) has been awarded an ERC Synergy Grant of EUR 10 million, which is shared between four researchers, among them Eduardo Villablanca, senior researcher at Karolinska Institutet and CMM Group Leader. The aim of the project is to map how disturbances in the gut microbiome can lead to inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

Eduardo Villablanca investigates how interactions between the microbiome (microorganisms in the body) and the host (human) affect health and diseases. Most of these interactions happen in the gut, where many types of bacteria reside. Disruptions in these interactions may lead to gut-related diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC).

“Many studies have associated the microbiome with gut-centric and extraintestinal diseases; however, many of these studies remain controversial as they use stool samples, which don’t represent what is going on in the tissue. We aim to fill this knowledge gap by exploring host-microbe interactions at the molecular level and at high resolution in the right tissue,” says Eduardo Villablanca.

The ERC-awarded CartoHostBug team consists of Eduardo VillablancaStefania Giacomello at KTH (Royal Institute of Technology), Sweden, Julio Saez-Rodriguez at University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany, and Georg Zeller at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany. They will together develop technologies to create a detailed, highly resolved map of host-microbiome interactions in intestinal tissues during health and disease.

Electron microscopy image of gut bacteria E.coli.

The ERC Synergy Grant

The ERC Synergy Grant is a grant scheme that supports small teams of scientists intending to address major research problems. This year, thirty-seven research groups will receive €359 million in total to address some of the world’s most formidable research problems spanning a range of scientific disciplines.

The ERC Synergy Grant helps groups of researchers to pool different skills, knowledge and resources to achieve progress through the cross-fertilisation of scientific disciplines, new productive points of inquiry or new methods and techniques. The ERC Synergy Grant scheme is part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.

This text is based on an article from Karolinska Institutet.

About CMM

The Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM) is a foundation instituted by the Stockholm County Council (Region Stockholm). CMM is at the heart of a close partnership with the Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet, fueling advancements in biomedical and clinical research.


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