Five prestigious grants for DTU researchers

Mobility Transport behaviour Innovation and product development Systems analysis Medical equipment and systems Health and diseases Light sources Micro and nanotechnology Optics
A total of five researchers from DTU receive ERC Consolidator Grants of approximately DKK 15 mio. from the European Research Council.

313 researchers worldwide have received € 632 million for pioneering research in connection with the awarding of the Consolidator Grants by the European Research Council (ERC).

Of them, researchers from Denmark receive a total of 14. For the first time, the majority of grant recipients are female, according to a Ministry of Higher Education and Research press release. Five of the grants go to researchers from DTU.

The goal of Consolidator Grants, part of the EU’s Horizon Europe program, is to support mid-career scientists and help them consolidate their teams and conduct groundbreaking research on topics and methods of their choice. Each researcher receives about € 2 million for their research project. 

Professor Sine Reker Hadrup receives a grant for the project MIMIC - Molecular mimicry as a key parameter shaping T cell immunity.

In the project, she will determine the role of molecular similarity in T-cell recognition. Molecular similarity can be crucial to the body’s immune system and its ability to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. Immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment by increasing the body’s ability to attack otherwise hidden cancer cells. But one major challenge is that it is very difficult to predict which attack points the immune system’s T cells may use on the surface of cancer cells. To improve treatment effectiveness, it is beneficial to be able to target treatment to these attack points. Some of these cancer-specific attack points likely share structural similarities to attack points from viruses and bacteria. Thus, it is the hypothesis behind this project that previous immune activation, e.g. from a viral infection, can be utilized to create cross-recognition to cancer cells. In this way, the resource of T cells that are already activated in the body can be actively used to also attack cancer cells. The project aims to uncover the rules behind structural similarity for the T cells’ attack points. In this way, it may be possible to develop more precise T-cell therapies aimed at cancer cells in the individual patient.

Senior researcher Sonja Haustein receives a grant for the project URGENT - Choice, necessity or chance? Understanding behavior change in Transport.

In the project, she will investigate under what circumstances people change their transport choices and what mental mechanisms are involved. Despite various initiatives and improved transport technologies, there is no decrease in CO2 emissions from human transport. The goal of URGENT is to expand the knowledge base so that more effective strategies can be developed. The approach is interdisciplinary, and include elements from, e.g. psychology, sociology and machine learning. Data will be collected over 3 years via a semi-annual survey combined with case studies. Machine learning is used to identify which personal, social, technical or spatial factors are most relevant concerning behavioural changes. In addition, so-called rebound effects (uninteded effects) of changed mobility behaviour, e.g., reduction of car use, choice of electric cars will be investigated—revealing how behavioural changes in one area (e.g. commuting) spread to others (e.g. air travel, food consumption).

Associate Professor Søren Stobbe receives a grant for the project SPOTLIGHT - Silicon-Photonics Hot-Electron Light Sources.

In the project, he will research an entirely new type of optical chips, which Søren’s research group on Photonic Nanotechnology recently demonstrated with collaborators at DTU. The unique feature of the new chips is that they enable the trapping of light in a volume so tiny that many physicists considered it theoretically impossible until recently. In the SPOTLIGHT-project, Søren and his group will build and explore a hitherto unexplored class of light sources, which is made possible by the extremely strong interaction between light and matter enabled by the new chips.

Associate Professor Daniela C. A. Pigosso receives a grant for the project REBOUNDLESS - Towards the prevention of rebound effects within complex socio-technical systems.

Society’s most well-intended efforts to solve sustainability challenges have yet to achieve the expected gains. This is partly due to rebound effects, which are unintended negative consequences of sustainability interventions. In this project, Daniela aims to establish the reboundless design theory, which will explain systemic rebound effect mechanisms, model and simulate rebound effects emerging from design decisions and, finally, enable the design of rebound-resilient systems by implementing ‘reboundless’ design strategies. The project aims at being the starting point of a new research field in which the scope of sustainable design is widened and applied to other areas such as sustainability assessment, sustainability transitions, and policymaking.

Associate Professor Tim Dyrby receives a grant for the project CoM-BraiN - Non-invasive Conduction Velocity Mapping in Brain Networks: A novel imaging framework for axonal fingerprinting of brain connections in health and disease.

The research project will enable magnetic resonance (MR) scanning to image how fast signals can be transmitted via the brain’s communication network. It has i.a. importance associated with brain diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s, all of which “attack” the brain network. The project will result in a method to depict some of the basic anatomical structures in the brain network that control transmission speeds, including a map of the brain’s different speed paths. In addition to the newly developed MR method, the project will also combine various imaging microscopy technologies. It is performed both preclinically via animal experiments and later clinically on ALS patients.

Tim is employed partly by Hvidovre Hospital and partly by DTU Compute. Therefore, the project is carried out at Hvidovre Hospital under the auspices of the Capital Region of Denmark with DTU as co-host. Read more about his project in the news from Hvidovre Hospital: 15 mio. kr. fra EU til hjerneforsker på Hvidovre Hospital (in Danish).