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Two research projects at FORTH were awarded by the European Research Council.

Jan 15, 2008

FORTH has been recently awarded with two grants of 2 million euros approximately in the competition of the European Research Council for Starting Independent Research.

One of the winners, Dr. Popi Syntichaki of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, will establish a new group that will focus its research on ageing. Ageing is a complex biological process that is influenced by genetic, environmental and stochastic factors. Much of the advance in the molecular genetics of ageing and longevity, during the past 25 years, results from work on simple model organisms, which have provided evidence that ageing is subject to modulation by evolutionary conserved metabolic pathways. Dr. Syntichaki's new research directions will investigate the existence of novel factors and pathways that could influence both ageing and longevity using the best-studied model organism in this field, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. More specifically, she will investigate the role in ageing of cellular factors involved in the so-called "RNA world" and in particular those involved in the metabolism of messenger RNAs, the molecules that provide the information for the synthesis of proteins. Dr. Syntichaki also intends to investigate the generalities of her findings using other model organisms, such as the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. It is anticipated that the novel age-related determinants and mechanisms that will be discovered will apply also to humans and this will enrich our armoury for future interventions that could secure healthy old age.

Another winner, Dr. Peter Rakitzis will establish a group at the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser that will address longstanding multidisciplinary problems, ranging from the monitoring of protein folding to measuring parity violation in atomic systems. Protein misfolding is the known cause of numerous diseases, including Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD), Lou Gehrig's (ALS), Huntington's, Parkinson's, and various forms of cancer. Parity violation measurements in atoms, using inexpensive tabletop laser experiments, can provide complementary information to measurements from high-energy particle colliders, such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, which test the Standard Model of high-energy physics. The group of Dr. Peter Rakitzis will continue to pioneer novel laser-cavity-based techniques, which improve the sensitivity and time-resolution of Polarimetry by several orders of magnitude over existing techniques, allowing important breakthroughs in several fields.

For more information please contact:
Popi Syntichaki, IMBB Researcher
Tel.: +30 2810 391160, Fax: +30 2810 391101
Petros Rakitzis, IESL Researcher
Tel.: +30 2810 391125, Fax: +30 2810 391305