Three EPFL professors awarded ERC Advanced Grants

EPFL Professors Pierre Gönczy, Douglas Hanahan, and Tobias J. Kippenberg (credit: Alain Herzog/EPFL)

EPFL Professors Pierre Gönczy, Douglas Hanahan, and Tobias J. Kippenberg (credit: Alain Herzog/EPFL)

Professors Pierre Gönczy and Douglas Hanahan (School of Life Sciences), and Professor Tobias J. Kippenberg (School of Basic Sciences/School of Engineering) have been awarded ERC Advanced Grants.

The ERC Advanced Grants are given each year to established, leading principal investigators to fund long-term funding for "ground-breaking, high-risk" research projects in any field.

This year, the ERC has awarded an Advanced Grant to three EPFL professors.

Pierre Gönczy (School of Life Sciences/ISREC)

CENGIN: “Deciphering and engineering centriole assembly”

Deciphering and engineering the assembly of cellular organelles is a fundamental pursuit in biology. The centriole is an evolutionarily conserved organelle that is critical for countless cellular processes, including signaling, motility and division. Centrioles exhibit a striking architecture that stems in part from the self-assembling properties of a set of evolutionarily conserved proteins identified in the last decade. The CENGIN project will tackle two important challenges ahead of the field: develop assays to probe the dynamics of centriole assembly with molecular precision and engineer building blocks towards assembling synthetic centrioles. This will help reveal and modulate the mechanisms by which these proteins together build a functional organelle.

Douglas Hanahan (School of Life Sciences/ISREC)

CAN-IT-BARRIERS: “Disruption of systemic and microenvironmental barriers to immunotherapy of antigenic tumors”

Harnessing the body’s immune system to attack cancers is revolutionizing therapy, producing long-term remissions and evident cures in some patients. In other patients, however, the cancers evade and resist such ‘immuno-therapies’. This project will leverage models of resistance to elucidate mechanisms of resistance and devise strategies to break down the barriers, seeking to more broadly enable efficacious immune-therapy.

Tobias J. Kippenberg (School of Basic Sciences/IPHYS and School of Engineering/IEL)

ExCOM-cCEO: “Extremely Coherent Mechanical Oscillators and circuit Cavity Electro-Optics”

The quest for mechanical oscillators with ultralow dissipation is motivated by classical and quantum sensing and technology, as well as precision measurements. The project proposes a new generation of strain-engineered crystalline and superconducting micro- and nanomechanical oscillators, whose Q-factors are predicted to exceed tens of billions. The project aims to exploit these systems to observe quantum optomechanical phenomena at room temperature. Secondly, the project will explore a fundamentally new method for measurement and manipulation of microwave fields with optical fields via measurement backaction – the nascent field of circuit Cavity-Electro-Optics. Taken together, we propose to open the new field of cavity circuit electro-optics, and usher in a new era of mechanical coherence within both classical and quantum domains.

All ERC Advanced Grant winners for 2019(PDF)