Oct 30, 2015

Biologist Prof. Dr. Michael Brand receives 2.5 Million EUR ERC Advanced Research GrantResearch Grant

Michael Brand, Professor and Founding Director of the DFG Research Center and Cluster of Excellence for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) at TU Dresden, was awarded an Advanced Research Grant from the European Research Council (ERC), which will provide 2.5 Million Euros over 5 years to support his groundbreaking research on brain regeneration. With these grants, top researchers engaged in pioneering research, at the frontier of knowledge in science are honored.

Dresden. Brain lesions, stroke, and age-related neurodegenerative diseases are huge unsolved biomedical problems in our societies. Michael Brand’s research is aimed at better understanding how the brain can be stimulated to regenerate. Controlled brain regeneration, either by resupplying appropriately programmed cells, or by activating appropriate mechanisms in endogeneous stem cells, might provide a solution to this growing global problem. Prof. Dr. Hans Müller-Steinhagen, Rector of TU Dresden, emphasizes the competitiveness of this grant: “Congratulations to Michael Brand! With this grant, he came out on top in the most competitive European grant proposal program - only 8.3 % of the 2287 submitted proposals across all disciplines were approved, and he got one of only six such grants in Europe in his field. Excellent TUD researchers, like Professor Brand, really push forward the highly innovative research approaches in Dresden!” Peter Nothnagel, chief executive of Wirtschaftsförderung Sachsen, points out: “Professor Brand’s success is good for all of us - it strengthens Dresden as an internationally recognized location for science and business, and creates new jobs for highly trained scientific staff!”

While humans only have a very limited ability to regenerate damaged tissue, other organisms like the zebrafish are able to effectively and functionally regenerate damaged body parts such as limbs and organs. Michael Brand states that “I focus on the brain of the regeneration-capable adult zebrafish, who knows a cool trick: its brain stem cells enable neural regeneration, and we study the molecular mechanisms that critically control this process. Our goal is, in perspective, to activate regeneration also in the adult mammalian brain, which cannot normally regenerate. We cannot do this yet – but with the funding from this ERC grant, we can further unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the astounding ability of the adult zebrafish brain to regenerate itself after a lesion. Our research might suggest avenues for future cell- based therapies of the injured or diseased human brain. This is the type of research that we founded the CRTD at TU Dresden for, not only for the brain, but also other organ systems and diseases. I think this research really has excellent potential for developing future bio-inspired regenerative therapies.”

ERC Advanced Grants allow exceptional established research leaders to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains. The ERC Advanced Grant funding targets researchers who have already established themselves as independent research leaders in their own right and who have a track-record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years. They should be exceptional leaders in terms of originality and significance of their research contributions. In the ERC Advanced Grant 2014 proceeding, 445 million euros were assigned to 190 researchers from 23 different countries in total.

Press Contact
Franziska Clauß Press Officer
Phone: +49 351 458 82065,
E-Mail: franziska.clauss@crt-dresden.de

The CRTD was set up as an interdisciplinary and interconnected network of 17 research groups in the core center and over 69 principal investigators from seven research institutes in Dresden. At the moment, eight professors and nine group leaders are doing research at the CRTD core center, with about 250 coworkers. Additional CRTD members are located in the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of the TU Dresden, the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, the Max Bergmann Center of Biomaterials, the University Hospital 'Carl Gustav Carus', and the Medical Theoretical Center. In addition, 21 companies support  the  CRTD network that provides the expertise to develop novel regenerative therapies fast and efficiently.
 

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