The ERC Synergy Grants 2023 have been announced. Several members of the KNCV and NVBMB saw their proposals honoured. Synergy Grants aim to enable ambitious research projects in which two to four principal investigators from different disciplines collaborate.

Cat4Can Center: Catalysis for Cancer Treatment

KNCV-member Joost Reek (University of Amsterdam), Alexander Kros (Leiden University) and Leila Akkari (Netherlands Cancer Institute / Oncode Institute) will work on the design of enzyme-inspired catalysts that allow non-toxic prodrugs to react within tumour cells to produce the final chemotherapeutic. The consortium focuses on glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumour for which treatment is still lacking. Total amount awarded: €10.6 million

GRAIL: Time-resolved imaging of membrane transporter dynamics under physiological ionic gradients

NVBMB-member Dirk Slotboom (University of Groningen) aims for real-time visualisation of the mechanism of action of membrane proteins, which are responsible for the uptake of compound from the environment of living cells. Slotboom collaborates with the groups of Wiktor Szymanski (also University of Groningen) and of Arwen Pearson and Iren Fernandez-Cuesta (both at the University of Hamburg). Total amount awarded: €11.6 million.

Host4Hypnozoites: Parasite-host interactions regulating dormancy and reactivation of malaria parasites

NVBMB-member Richard Bartfai (Radboud University), KNCV-member Bert Windhorst (VUmc) and KNCV-/NVBMB-member Clemens Kocken (BPRC) focus on so-called hypnozoites. These are ‘dormant’ malaria parasites that are located in the liver. The consortium will study the host-parasite interactions to find new leads for treatment and prevention of malaria. Total amount awarded: €11 million.

MiniLife: De novo construction and evolvability of Minimal Lifelike Systems

KNCV-member Sijbren Otto (University of Groningen), Eörs Szathmáry (Parmenides Foundation), Andrew Griffiths (ESPCI Paris) and Gonen Ashkenazy (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israël) will synthesize minimal molecular systems that exhibit life-life properties, but are based on a completely different molecular basis compared to life as we currently know it. Total amount awarded: €13 million.


A total of 37 projects were granted, out of 395 submitted proposals.