ERC Advanced Grant for Prof. Dr. Bruce Edgar – Support for Research at the ZMBH and the DKFZ
Posted January 05 2011
Molecular Biologist Prof. Dr. Bruce Edgar from Heidelberg receives a highly remunerative 5-year funding of the European Research Council (ERC): an “ERC Advanced Grant“ for top scientists in Europe

With this grant, his fundamental research on the cell cycle and cell growth using the fruit fly as a model organism will be funded with approx. 2.7 m euros. The US-born scientist works at the Heidelberg Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) and also does research at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. With the award for Bruce Edgar, the number of ERC Advanced Grants awarded to professors affiliated with the Heidelberg University since 2007 has risen to five. Within the framework of the DKFZ-ZMBH-Alliance, the University of Heidelberg and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) had been successful in their joint efforts to bring the renowned researcher from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle (USA) to Heidelberg in 2009. Prof. Edgar’s research especially focuses on the mechanisms controlling cell division. Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the scientist and his team have discovered a whole range of genes and signaling pathways that regulate cell growth and proliferation in vivo in various organs and tissue types. In order to extend this research, Prof. Edgar is setting up a new lab in Heidelberg. In the research project funded by the ERC, the Heidelberg scientists will study how the continuous natural loss of so-called epithelial cells of the intestine is counter-balanced by the regulation of division and differentiation of intestinal stem cells by using fruit flies as well as cell cultures. “Research in model organisms has contributed to identifying and understanding the functions of numerous human genes that cause diseases”, says Prof. Edgar. “This project can contribute to the discovery of new mechanisms of stem cell control and genes related to two common diseases: chronic inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal cancer.”




Bruce Edgar, who was born in 1960, graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle in the field of genetics after having studied biology at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Following his Ph.D. in 1987, he worked at the University of California in San Francisco and at the University of Oxford in Great Britain. Between 1993 and 2009, the scientist held several functions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and worked as a professor at the University of Washington. This was interrupted by a stay at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg in 2000/2001.

The European Research Council, which was established in 2007, promotes the funding of fundamental research in order to advance visionary projects and to develop new interdisciplinary fields of knowledge. It operates two open-topic funding programs, the only criteria of which are scientific excellence and the potential for innovation of the research projects: the ERC Advanced Grant addresses outstanding researchers who have already established themselves, whereas the ERC Starting Grants offer talented young researchers the possibility to establish themselves as independent scientists.