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Two EMTHERA researchers awarded with an ERC Consolidator Grant

EMTHERA researchers Dorothee Dormann and Christian Münch have been awarded with a Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). The ERC Consolidator Grant is one of the EU's most prestigious funding programmes for individual researchers who are in an intermediate career stage after obtaining their doctorate. In addition to scientific excellence, applicants must demonstrate the groundbreaking approach of their project and its feasibility in order to receive funding.

In his ERC project termed "Autoxitus", Christian Münch (Goethe University) is investigating a novel secretory autophagy pathway by which cells maintain a fine-tuned balance of degradation and secretion of autophagic cargo. Normally, during cellular degradation by autophagy, cells encapsulate unneeded components in membrane vesicles which fuse to lysosomes where they are degraded. In contrast, in the novel autoxitus pathway discovered by Münch, phagosomal contents are transported out of the cell. One of Münch's hypotheses is that this pathway is utilized to relay stress signals to neighbouring cells. The project will be funded for five years with € 2M. For Christian Münch, the Consolidator Grant is already the second ERC award after obtaining an ERC Starting Grant in 2018.

In her project “TDP Assembly”, Dorothee Dormann (JGU Mainz) will investigate the role of TDP-43 assemblies in healthy cells. The protein TDP-43 is ubiquitous in our cells and is important for biochemical processes. However, it can also form large aggregates in the brain, which in turn triggers degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and other dementias. How exactly this happens and how protein clumps are linked to the diseases is already the subject of intense research. Dorothee Dormann suspects that the proteins also tend to self-assemble in healthy cells, albeit on a much smaller scale, and that this process may be important for the proper function of TDP-43 proteins, a hypothesis which she will test in her ERC project. The project will be funded for five years with € 2M.

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