ERC starting grants for two Nordic EMBL Partnership group leaders

The Nordic EMBL Partnership wishes to congratulate Dr. Andrea Ganna, group leader at FIMM, and Dr. Jonas Barandun, group leader at MIMS, on receiving an ERC Starting Grant.

Dr. Andrea Ganna. Photo: FIMM
Dr Jonas Barandun. Photo: MIMS

Dr Andrea Ganna: A nationwide artificial intelligence risk assessment for primary prevention of cardiometabolic diseases

Dr. Andrea Ganna was recruited to FIMM in 2019. He is one of three researchers at the University of Helsinki to receive a highly competitive ERC starting grant. 

Dr. Ganna is head of the Data Science and Genetic Epidemiology Lab, based at FIMM/University of Helsinki and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. 

Project will use AI to revolutionize approaches to primary prevention for cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Finland and in Europe. Given that effective pharmacological and lifestyle interventions are available, it is important to identify high risk individuals at an early stage. With this grant, Dr. Ganna and his team aim to revolutionize the existing approaches to primary prevention.

In this project, they will use artificial intelligence approaches to integrate nation-wide health data and genetic information with the goal to predict cardiometabolic diseases before an individual even steps into the doctor’s office for a visit. The project leverages the latest developments in AI and high-quality national Finnish health data to deliver a paradigm shift with important public health consequences by potentially changing the way cardiometabolic disease risk is assessed.

Finland offers unique possibilities for this type of research, as Dr. Ganna comments:

“Finland is one of the few countries in the world where this project can be done. The unique availability of nation-wide health registries and large-scale genetic data can open the way to implement a new kind of disease predictions and consequent public health interventions.”

Dr Jonas. Barandun: A molecular model of the microsporidian infection apparatus

For his innovative research project on the infection biology of microsporidia, Jonas Barandun has been awarded a prestigious Starting Grant by the European Research Council (ERC), funded with 1.5 million euros over five years. Dr. Barandun joined Umeå University from The Rockefeller, University, New York, in January 2019 to start a research group at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden.

In his research group, Jonas Barandun and his team use cryo-electron microscopy to visualize the unknown molecular world of specialized pathogens, such as the microsporidia. Microsporidia are a group of poorly understood pathogens with very unusual biology.

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ERC starting grants provide support to the most promising early career scientists

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. ERC Starting Grants are designed to support the most promising early-career scientists to build their own teams and conduct pioneering research across all disciplines. The grants are part of the EU’s Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020. Awardees receive up to €2.5 million per grant for work to be carried out over a maximum of five years.

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