ERC Advanced Grant for Erin Schuman

The Frankfurt Neuroscientist receives her third ERC Advanced Grant to study specialized compartments in neurons

April 26, 2022

The European Research Council today announced the winners of its 2021 Advanced Grants competition. Erin Schuman, director at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, in Frankfurt, Germany is one of twelve Max Planck scientists who receive this prestigious grant for her project “Diverse Synapse”.

Even within something as small as a tiny cell there are dedicated compartments that are specialized for certain functions. Brain cells, neurons, are perhaps the best example of “compartmentalizing”, they have thousands of compartments, the synapses, which are used for communication with thousands of other neurons. Synapses differ in their shape, size, and function and exhibit changes during brain development and adulthood. This “plasticity” is essential for the correct wiring of the nervous system and for its ability to encode, maintain and remember facts, procedures, and experiences.

„Because the function of the synapse, as well as its ability to change, is largely determined by the molecules (mRNAs, proteins, lipids) that inhabit it, it is essential to understand the molecular diversity of synapses“, explains Schuman.

With this project, Erin Schuman and her team aim to determine the entire sets of proteins and mRNAs (proteomes and transcriptomes) of chemically-distinct synaptic populations in different brain areas and to determine the molecular diversity using transcriptomic analysis of individual synapses. The scientists also plan to assess how these synaptic proteomes, transcriptomes and the transcriptomic diversity respond to plasticity.

ERC Advanced Grants are designed to support excellent scientists and scholars in any field at the career stage when they are already established research leaders, with a recognized track record of research achievements. The funding, worth in total €624 million, will go to 253 leading researchers across Europe. The share of women awarded Advanced ERC grants has been steadily increasing from 10% in 2014 to more than 25% in the latest competition.

About the ERC
The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept Grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between their pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.

Press release of the ERC.

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