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Conflict resolution in the genome – ERC Starting Grant for Dr. Stephan Hamperl

We are proud to announce that Dr. Stephan Hamperl of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells (IES) received an ERC Starting Grant for his research. The grant will help the scientist to uncover how cells resolve transcription-replication conflicts, a source of DNA damage that arises when the basic machineries involved in transcription and replication “crash” into each other. The funding period of this grant is five years with a total budget worth approximately 1.5 million euros.

© Helmholtz Zentrum München

Many fundamental processes occur on human chromosomes, two of which are transcription of genes and replication to copy our DNA strands. These molecular machines traverse our genome simultaneously with different rates and often in opposing directions. Not surprisingly, they can sometimes run into each other leading to transcription-replication conflicts. This can lead to catastrophic effects on genome and epigenome stability, causing a myriad of human diseases including cancer and developmental disorders.

The way by which such “accidents” are avoided and resolved in our cells is unknown. “If we shed light on the basic mechanism and molecular consequences of such conflicts, we may be able to design new strategies and improve “conflict resolution” at these regions in the genome. This could guide future therapeutic efforts relevant to cancer and other human diseases”, says Hamperl.

This is the 28th ERC grant that has been awarded to researchers who are based at or decided to move to the Helmholtz Zentrum München. “I am very much looking forward to Stephan’s contributions to the field, he has had a brilliant start, and together with colleagues at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Stephan’s research has a unique world-wide opportunity to create new breakthroughs. We will offer Stephan all the relevant support he needs to grasp this opportunity and make the next step for his career”, says Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla, Director of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells at Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Further Information

Der Europäische Forschungsrat fördert mit ERC Starting Grants unabhängige Nachwuchsforscher jeder Nationalität mit zwei bis sieben Jahren Erfahrung nach Abschluss der Promotion (oder eines gleichwertigen akademischen Grads) und einer vielversprechenden wissenschaftlichen Erfolgsbilanz. Sie müssen einen exzellenten Forschungsvorschlag einreichen und das Projekt in einer öffentlichen oder privaten Forschungsorganisation mit Sitz in einem EU-Mitgliedstaat oder einem assoziierten Staat durchführen. Dafür erhalten sie bis zu 1,5 Millionen Euro innerhalb von fünf Jahren.

The research of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells (IES) is focused on the characterization of early events in mammalian embryos. The scientists are especially interested in the totipotency of cells which is lost during development. Moreover, they want to elucidate who this loss is caused by changes in the nucleus. Their main goal is to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms which might lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches.

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus, allergies and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,500 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 19 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members. 

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