Spot infections of rice plants by Magnaporthe oryzae (left) (Richard Lindsay, PhD Student) and competition between Candida albicans (green colonies) and C. glabrata (pink colonies) (right) (Sarah Duxbury, PhD Student).

Exeter bioscientist awarded prestigious European Research Council Consolidator Grant

Dr Ivana Gudelj from Biosciences has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant worth €2 million over the next 5 years.

Dr Ivana Gudelj, from the Microbes and Disease theme in Biosciences, is one of 372 excellent mid-career scientists across Europe (from 4000 applicants) to be awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The five-year project will research the effects of competition and co-operation in microbial communities on virulence (disease severity) and evolution of drug resistance. This will have great importance in food security and human health. It will contribute important fundamental research on the disease impact of pathogen-pathogen interactions, as opposed to commonly researched host-pathogen interactions. The work will be lab-based and will begin on 1st September 2015.

The research aims to discover how microbial communities form and how metabolic differences within populations impact on disease via pathogen fitness.  Experiments will focus on cell-cell interactions of the fungal species Magnaporthe oryzae, a plant pathogen causing severe rice blast disease, and interactions between species of the Candida genus, important fungal pathogens of humans with high prevalence and mortality. The common yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae will be used as a model.

Dr Gudelj commented that the grant offers "an opportunity to do some exciting research and solve important problems. This will inspire the next generation of scientists by funding new post-doctoral and technician positions."

ERC Consolidator Grants were introduced in 2012 and are awarded to excellent researchers with 7-12 years of experience after PhD, and with a promising scientific track record. This funding is important for maintaining Europe’s competitive research base and the proportion of female grantees in this year’s intake was 28%, a significant increase from 24% in the 2013 competition.

Date: 18 May 2015

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