European research, ERC Advanced Grants awarded to 11 Italian projects
The European Research Council-ERC has invested a total budget of over 650 million euro in groundbreaking research in the latest edition of the Advanced Grant Call, the results of which have been recently published. The funding will benefit 269 projects led by senior researchers, 11 of which will be carried out in Italy.
Sapienza University of Rome will host 3 of the selected projects: 2 in the field of social sciences, eHonesty and Notae, and one in the computer science sector, Amdroma, led by Salvatore Maria Aglioti, Antonella Ghignoli and Stefano Leonardi, respectively.
In the psychological field, eHonesty will test whether it is possible to alter peoples’ dishonest tendencies by changing their perception of themselves during interactions with virtual avatars and real people. The Notae project, in the field of cultural studies, aims to investigate the meaning of graphic symbols, made with the same technology as late antiquity and medieval written texts. Amdroma is aimed at understanding algorithms and decision-making mechanisms that regulate digital markets.
The other Italian projects that have received grants in the fields of social sciences and computer science will be carried out by Maria Sofia Lannutti at the University of Pavia and by Paolo Tonella of Bruno Kessler Foundation, respectively. The first project, ArsNova, will study multilingual poetry and polyphonic song in the late Middle Ages. The second project, Precrime, will deal with “oracles”, mechanisms used in software engineering for testing.
In the field of physical sciences, with the Rg.Bio project Andrea Cavagna will study complex biological systems formed by several individuals and characterized by emerging collective behaviour, using the tools of statistical physics. The project will be carried out at the National Research Council. The Backup project by Lorenzo Pavesi from University of Trento, will study the relationship between brain connectivity and function by integrated photonics. In the field of chemistry, the LifeTimeS project, led by Benedetta Mennucci at the University of Pisa, will study light-induced function − from excitation to signal − through time and space.
Economics is the field of investigation of the Mimat project, by Gianmarco Ottaviano, which will be carried out at Bocconi University and will study the implications of firm-level heterogeneity in international trade.
Italy has received two Advanced Grants in the field of life sciences. The Vamres project by Rino Rappuoli of Toscana Life Sciences will study vaccines as a remedy for antimicrobial resistant bacterial infections.
Mauro Giacca, through the Cure project at the University of Trieste, aims to identify novel factors able to promote the regeneration of damaged cardiac muscle tissue following heart attack through the administration of therapeutic molecules. This is a crucial issue, considering that heart attack is the main cause of death for men and women in most European countries.
The Advanced Grants are awarded, as part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, to senior researchers for frontier research in various fields. The competitions are open to researchers of all nationalities. The winners of the last edition come from 27 countries: British researchers are the most numerous, with 50 grants, followed by German, French and Spanish researchers.