The research group of BGU's Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi (pictured below) has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant to identify the factors that enable microbial communities to support the existence of multi-cellular organisms, specifically mammals.
The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organization for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, most creative researchers to run projects based in Europe and associated countries. The new grantees were announced on Wednesday.
The Consolidator Grant, which was just awarded to the Mizrahi group, follows an ERC Starting Grant, which are given to research groups with outstanding potential. After realizing that potential, the group proposed a new study to answer fundamental questions in the field of host -microbiome associations and to provide biotechnological tools to engineer microbiomes and solve existing fundamental problems.
The Mizrahi group is the first research group at BGU to receive both an ERC Starting Grant and an ERC Consolidator Grant.
Microbial communities, also termed microbiomes, drive many basic processes in our everyday lives, with regard to agriculture, health and environment.
The Mizrahi group aims to understand the ecological and evolutionary forces that shape microbiomes in nature and specifically, in gut environments. Understanding these forces will enable them to predict and modulate the composition of the microbiome towards optimized functionality.
The group will gain deep insights into the fundamental rules that structure microbial communities and determine their function. The role of each microbial component of the essential microbial communities in a given process, and its contribution to host-microbiome viability, will be revealed. The fundamental knowledge gained through this project will have further implications in our everyday lives, with respect to food sustainability, environment, renewable energy, and economics. Hence, the current research project has far-reaching environmental and applied ramifications including reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Ruminants and engineering of microbiomes.
Prof. Mizrahi is a member of the Department of Life Sciences in the Faculty of Natural Sciences and a member of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN).
The ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers of any nationality and age, with at least seven and up to twelve years of experience after PhD, and a scientific track record showing great promise. Research must be conducted in a public or private research organization located in one of the EU member states or associated countries. The funding (average of €2 million per grant), is provided for up to five years and mostly covers the employment of researchers and other staff to consolidate the grantees' teams.