VIB’s Charlotte Scott has been awarded an ERC starting grant worth €1.5 million. These renowned, highly competitive grants aim to help individual scientists and scholars to build their own teams and conduct pioneering research across all disciplines. Charlotte Scott will use the grant to pursue research tackling liver disease. She joins 53 other VIB ERC grantees.
A career boost
ERC Starting Grants are awarded to early-career researchers of any nationality with two to seven years following their PhD. The primary factor used to judge the applications is a scientific track record showing great promise. The funding is provided for up to five years.
The grants are a true boost for early-career researchers seeking to establish themselves as leading scientists. With the help of the funding, they can set up a team and initiate a research program that will push forward the frontiers of scientific knowledge. Many of the recipients of ERC Starting Grants go on to build impressive and successful academic careers.
A dream come true
Charlotte (VIB-UGent) remembers how she felt when hearing the news: “Obtaining an ERC starting grant is a dream come true for me. This grant is hugely important for my career, as it enables me to launch myself as an independent PI. In addition, the ERC grants work as a quality label and thus this starting grant will be instrumental in allowing me to recruit top-quality international post-doctoral researchers to my team.”
Studying immune cells to fight liver disease
With her grant, Charlotte will investigate the role of two types of immune cells, dendritic cells and macrophages in driving non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). With the increasing prevalence of obesity and its link to NAFLD, this liver condition is one of the main global healthcare burdens of the 21st century. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding regarding how the disease develops means that there are currently no treatment options available for end-stage NAFLD other than liver transplantation.
Charlotte explains how she will use the grant to contribute to better treatment options for this crippling liver condition: “I hope that a better understanding of these immune cells and their specific roles in this disease could lead to novel therapies for the future. So far, I have focused on investigating these cells in healthy individuals. But now, thanks to this grant, I can implement novel tools such as single cell RNA sequencing and CITE-Seq, to study them in a disease-setting. I will also unravel their specific contributions to disease and will try to use that knowledge to tackle liver disease.”