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November 21, 2014

Two "SNSF Starting Grants" for the Biozentrum

Prof. Kelly Tan and Prof. Marek Basler have both been awarded the coveted “SNSF Starting Grant”, a temporary backup scheme of the SNSF to the “ERC Starting Grant”. The Swiss National Science Foundation is supporting the two young scientists at the Biozentrum with a contribution totaling almost three million Swiss Francs over the next five years. The infection biologist Marek Basler will receive funding for his research on the type VI secretion system of bacteria. The neurobiologist Kelly Tan investigates subcircuits in the basal ganglia, an ensemble of brain regions that controls our motor skills.

Prof. Kelly Tan and Prof. Marek Basler receive a "SNSF Starting Grant".

Each year after a rigorous selection process, the European Research Council (ERC) awards the “ERC Starting Grants” to promote outstanding young scientists, who are at the beginning of their career. This year the SNSF established a temporary backup grant for excellent scientists at Swiss research institutions who were unable to apply to the ERC because of the successful mass immigration initiative. At the Biozentrum the infection biologist Prof. Marek Basler and the recently appointed neurobiologist Prof. Kelly Tan have just received this “SNSF Starting Grant”. This prestigious award supports them to work separately and independently on their research projects for the next five years. Since mid of September, researchers in Switzerland are readmitted to take part in selection process of the “ERC Grants”.

Prof. Marek Basler

Marek Basler studied biochemistry and microbiology at the Institute of Chemical Technology and at the Institute of Microbiology in Prague. In 2007 he received his PhD and then worked as a postdoc at the Harvard Medical School in Boston. His scientific achievements were recognized with the award "Best Young Microbiologist" of the Czech Society for Microbiology, and with an "EMBO long term fellowship”. Since September 2013 Marek Basler works as Assistant Professor of Infection Biology at the Biozentrum. He studies the type VI secretion system, an injection apparatus, used by bacteria to inject a cocktail of effector proteins or toxins into various cells. The aim of his project is to describe details of the dynamics of the injection apparatus assembly and to understand how the system secretes proteins from the bacterial cytosol into the target cells.

Prof. Kelly Tan

Kelly Tan studied biology at the University of Bordeaux II Victor Segalen in France. She earned her PhD in the field of Neurobiology at the University of Bern in 2007, subsequently she moved to the University of Geneva as a postdoctoral fellow, where she began her research on basal ganglia. In 2011 she was awarded the Pfizer prize. One year later, she received one of the prestigious “SNF Ambizione Fellowships”, with which she conducted her research in Geneva, before she was appointed SNF Professor of Neurobiology at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel in October this year. Kelly Tan is mainly interested in the basal ganglia, a brain network that controls movement. She dissects circuits studying how neurons are connected with each other. She also examines the alterations of this circuit in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease to then investigate its reversibility.

“Starting Grant” for the fourth year in a row at the Biozentrum

Like the ERC, the "SNSF Starting Grant" honors innovative basic and pioneer research. Unique selection criterion is scientific excellence of both the project and the investigator. The aim is to support promising research leaders on their road to scientific independence, allowing them to establish or consolidate a research team for a period of up to five years. For the fourth year in a row, scientists at the Biozentrum receive such a remarkable funding (“ERC Starting Grant”: Sebastian Hiller (2011), Mihaela Zavolan (2012) and Sonja Hofer (2013)). Apart from Marek Basler and Kelly Tan this year also Prof. Patrick Maletinsky (Swiss Nanoscience Institute) as well as Dr. Christof Sparr (Departement Chemistry) of the University of Basel receive the "Starting Grant" of the SNSF.

Contact: Communications, Heike Sacher