€2.4 million ERC Consolidator Research Grant

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Melissa Mather with Vice-Chancellor, Professor Trevor McMillan (left) & Professor David Amigoni, Pro VC for Research and Enterprise (right)
Posted on 22 January 2016

Professor Melissa Mather, Research Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, has won a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Research Grant worth €€2.4 million (£1.6 million). This award will provide five years of funding for her project entitled "TransPhorm - Single molecule imaging of transmembrane protein structure and function in their native state".

This project aims to pioneer new technology to enable the proteins found in the membrane of cells responsible for the regulation of cell function and communication to be studied in their natural environment with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. An understanding of these proteins, called ion channels, is of immense importance to obtain new insight into numerous physiological processes including electrical signalling in the heart and nervous system, hormone secretion, the role of nutrient transporters in cancer growth, endocytosis and gene expression. This work will help to reveal how the dysfunction of these proteins leads to disease and downstream will accelerate drug discovery as ion channel modulators represent an extremely important class of pharmaceuticals.

ERC logo 90x90 Selection for the ERC Consolidator Grant Mel has been awarded involves an interview at the ERC headquarters in Brussels and is highly competitive, with only a small percentage of the 2051 applications received being granted. This scheme offers mid-career researchers funding to develop their most innovative ideas, autonomy and prestige and was established by the ERC with the overall aim of developing a new generation of top researchers in Europe, who are competitive at a global level. ‌

Mel, pictured above with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Trevor McMillan and Professor David Amigoni, Pro VC for Research and Enterprise, is Keele's Professor of Biomedical Imaging and will also now use the title "ERC Consolidator Grant Fellow". She moved to Keele in August 2015 from Nottingham University where she was the Faculty of Engineering lead and Deputy Director at Nottingham's Institute of Biophysics. She brought with her the remaining year of her EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship which started in 2011 and has been extended to March 2017. That EPSRC fellowship aims to develop a new class of ultrasonic transducer based on self-assembling liposomes, capable for use as a new medical imaging modality.

Professor Alicia El Haj, Director of ISTM, said: "Melissa's appointment to Keele and her successful award of an ERC fellowship places Keele among the major international research centres in this field. This programme will expand our efforts within ISTM to translate cutting edge science into novel medical technologies that will benefit the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the next decade."