7 September 2020

Helena Safavi receives ERC Starting Grant


Assistant Professor Helena Safavi receives a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Helena receives the grant to establish her research group that will investigate if toxins can be used in treatment of diseases.

Each year the European Research Council (ERC) distributes the so-called Starting Grants to researchers who have two-seven years’ experience after completing their PhD. The researchers receive EUR 1.5 million over a period of five years for establishing a research group on a ground-breaking research idea. This year, two researchers from SUND have received the much-coveted grant, one of these is Helena Safavi from Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Helena Safavi and her group are doing a project called ToxMims, which focusses on a hitherto overlooked group of toxins that resemble human peptides. Toxins have been used in illness treatment in the past, but not to the extent seen in the ToxMims project. The toxins are difficult to identify, and Helena and her group hope to be able to develop better tools for identifying and investigating/exploring new classes of toxins. Seeing as human peptides – unlike toxins – are rather unstable, and based on the original discovery of insulin-like peptides among toxins, the latter may be used in the development of more potent and stable medicine against e.g. diabetes.

“This international European recognition of my research, via the grant, is amazing”, says Helena Safavi. “Moreover, it is a lot of money, and it allows me to develop a research idea that I have had for many years, but which I have never had the resources to explore”.

Read about the other receiver of the ERC Starting Grant at SUND

Read more on the ERC website