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Professor Michael N. Hall from the University of Basel, Switzerland, received one of this year's Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. His cancer research is funded by the European Research Council.
The prize was awarded "for discoveries concerning the nutrient-activated TOR proteins and their central role in the metabolic control of cell growth." Disruption of these growth regulator networks contribute to numerous human illnesses, including diabetes and cancer, and plays a role in a wide range of other age-related disorders.
Professor Hall is a grantee in an EU-funded research project "Mechanisms of Evasive Resistance in Cancer," supported with €11.2 million through an ERC Synergy Grant. Together with Professors Niko Beerenwinkel (ETH Zurich), Gerhard Christofori (University of Basel) and Markus Heim (University Hospital of Basel), he won the ERC grant in 2013. Their project will run until 2020.
The mission of the Lasker Prize is to improve health by accelerating support for medical research through recognition of research excellence, education and advocacy.Another ERC grantee, Sir David Baulcombe, Professor at the University of Cambridge, was a laureate of the 2008 Lasker Prize.
About the ERC
The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe.
The ERC has three core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants. The Synergy Grant scheme was re-launched in 2017. This came after a thorough assessment of the ongoing projects funded through the pilot calls in 2012 and 2013. Synergy Grants bring together top researchers with complementary skills and knowledge, and enable them to jointly address a commonly chosen challenging research problem in unconventional ways, potentially leading to major breakthroughs that scientists would not be able to achieve working alone.
To date, the ERC has funded over 7,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. Key global research funding bodies in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil and other countries have concluded agreements to provide their researchers with opportunities to temporarily join ERC grantees' teams.
The ERC is governed by an independent body, the Scientific Council, led by the ERC President, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The ERC has an annual budget of €1.8 billion for the year 2017, which is around 1% of overall spending on research in Europe. The overall ERC budget from 2014 to 2020 is over €13 billion, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible.
This year, the ERC celebrates its tenth anniversary: see summary of achievements.