School of Biosciences scientist to receive €1.5m of ERC funding

Dan GibbsDr Dan Gibbs, Birmingham Fellow in the School of Biosciences, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) grant of €1.5 million for a project to investigate development of superior crop varieties required for increasing global food security.

Plants have to respond to the changing seasons and unpredictable stresses, such as flooding, to appropriately time their development and ensure their survival. To do this, they have evolved complex mechanisms for accurately sensing their environment.   This project will be the first investigate how plants perceive and respond to environmentally-triggered changes in the availability of important gases (including oxygen) through controlling the stability of a key protein that coordinates growth and stress-tolerance, by programming a long term ‘memory’ in the plant. The research will identify new molecular targets for the development of superior crop varieties that are required for increasing global food security.

Five ERC Starting Grants, totalling almost €8m, were awarded to researchers from across the university, and span such subjects as human evolution, memory, plant biology, the treatment of diabetes and particle physics.

Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council (ERC) is the first pan-European funding organisation for frontier research. It aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age.