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ERC Starting Grant for molecular biologist in Innsbruck

Jerome Mertens © University of Innsbruck

The grant is funded to the amount of about EUR 1.5 million. The European Research Council (ERC) supports pioneering research conducted by outstanding scientists and science students. Successful young researchers are given high project budgets thanks to the ERC Starting Grants. The researchers benefitting from this funding were recently announced. The funding provided to Jerome Mertens is the ninth Starting Grant of the ERC overall designated for researchers working at the University of Innsbruck.

Age-Related Mechanisms in Alzheimer's

Diseases such as Alzheimer's are on the advance and are characterised by the fact that only older people suffer from it, whereas younger people never come down with it with the exception of a very few hereditary cases. "The biological aging process of our brain cells is of central importance in the development of such diseases", explains Jerome Mertens, Head of the Neural Aging Laboratory at the University of Innsbruck. "Unfortunately, our scientific understanding of the molecular and cellular causes of aging is still limited".

The team led by Jerome Mertens developed a method to directly convert skin cells of patients into nerve cells, allowing for the generation of "old" nerve cells. "We will produce such old nerve cells of Alzheimer patients, the control group, as well as patients in an early stage. A genome-wide gene expression analysis of Alzheimer and control nerve cells has already provided us with unique and new insights into the molecular cell biology of Alzheimer's disease in nerve cells", he adds.
Jerome Mertens (born 1983 in Lower Saxony) has been assistant professor since 2017 and leads the Neural Aging Laboratory in the Department for Genomics, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Innsbruck. He is also a staff scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California.

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