Three Champalimaud scientists awarded grants from the European Research Council
Three investigators from the Champalimaud Research (CR) Programme were awarded European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grants, each for the sum of two million euros.
Susana Lima is the principal investigator of the Neuroethology Lab at Champalimaud Research. She was awarded two million euros from the ERC to finance her project, titled “YinYang”, which aims to elucidate how the reproductive hormones affect the brain to control female sexual behaviour. As Lima explains, “it is known that female animals exhibit radically different behaviours towards males depending on their reproductive state, but the biological basis that underlies this transformation is largely unknown. In this project, we will apply advanced methods to pin down the identity of the neural circuits involved.”
Joseph Paton is the principal investigator of the Learning Lab at Champalimaud Research. Over the last few years, Paton’s team has made great strides in discovering how the brain tracks the passage of time. The funding of two million euros received for this ERC project will allow the team to further dissect the mechanisms by which internally generated signals, such as the ones that inform the brain about the passage of time, are used to drive behaviour. According to Paton, a deeper understanding of this process is “key for discovering how the brain generates the dynamic internal signals that underlie cognitive acts such as learning and thinking.”
Michael Orger is the principal investigator of the Vision to Action Lab at Champalimaud Research. His team uses state-of-the-art techniques to non-invasively visualise the activity of each and every neuron in the brain of zebrafish larvae while the animal moves in response to different images. With these techniques and the support of the ERC’s two million euros funding, Orger is planning to produce “an unprecedented, single-cell resolution view of the circuits that transform visual information into action.”
In the Life Sciences, four more scientists from other Lisbon research centers have also been awarded ERC Consolidator Grants. These are Ana Domingos and Luís Teixeira, from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC); Mariana Pinho, from the Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica (ITQB-NOVA); and Luísa Figueiredo, from the Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM | João Lobo Antunes). Lastly, an eighth grant has been awarded to a researcher from the Universidade do Minho in the Physical Sciences and Engineering area. The eight ERC Consolidator Grants sum up to a total of more than 16 million euros.