An Estonian molecular systems biologist from the University of Tartu has been awarded the country’s first ERC Consolidator Grant.
The €2m award from the European Research Council was presented to Professor Mart Loog; he is the fourth Estonian researcher to receive an elite ERC research grant. So far this year, 372 Consolidator Grants were awarded, 12 to researchers from Eastern Europe.
Vice-rector for research at the University of Tartu Marco Kirm commented that the grant is a great recognition to both the university and Estonia, since the competition for ERC research grants is very strong. He said: “In the field of biosciences, only five grants went to Eastern Europe. The fact that one of them came to Estonia proves that the field led by Mart Loog is rapidly developing in the international arena and confirms the high level of the researcher.”
Loog will use the ERC grant to support his further career and develop the field of synthetic biology and the centre of excellence in the field at the Institute of Technology at the university.
The researcher established his laboratory in 2006 after his post-doctoral training at the University of California, USA, mostly thanks to starting grants from the US foundation Wellcome Trust and the US Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Loog said that the second-level ERC grant is proof that the research laboratory and field launched with the aid of the starting grants has started to work successfully and efficiently.
The scientist also believes that research grants can help bring back Estonian researchers who have gone abroad.