The European Research Council (ERC) – the first pan-European funding body for frontier research - aims to enhance the dynamic character, creativity and excellence of European research at the frontiers of knowledge. Born in 2007, ERC consists of a Scientific Council, the decision-making body setting the scientific funding strategy, and an Executive Agency (ERCEA) which implements the ERC strategy. The ERC operates with the autonomy and integrity guaranteed by the European Commission.
ERC grants are awarded through an open competition launched on projects headed by starting and/or established researchers, irrespective of their origins, who are working or moving to work in Europe. The sole selection criterion is scientific excellence. The aim here is to recognize the best ideas and confer status and visibility to the best brains in Europe while at the same time attracting talents from abroad.
IIT currently secured 32 ERC grants thanks to the following researchers:
ERC Starting Grant 2009-2013
Assembly of Colloidal Nanocrystals into Unconventional Types of Nanocomposite Architectures with Advanced Properties.
The unconventional assembly of nanocrystals towards functional materials is the area where this project aims at providing a key contribution. The main objectives are: i) the advanced synthesis of nanoscale building blocks; ii) the assembly of these building blocks into superstructures in solution and on substrates using a novel nano-soldering approach; iii) The structural, mechanical, collective transport and catalytic study of these ensembles
ERC Consolidator Grant 2014-2019
Advancing the Study of Chemical, Structural and Surface Transformations in Colloidal Nanocrystals.
This project embarks on an ambitious investigation of post-synthetic transformations in solution-grown NCs: by advancing the understanding of various aspects of chemical, structural and surface transformation of NCs, we will uncover new fabrication techniques that will employ such nanostructures as the key ingredients. This in turn will have a strong impact in nanoelectronics, as several electronic components entirely made of NCs will be delivered.
ERC Advanced Grant 2012-2017
A Theory of Soft Synergies for a New Generation of Artificial Hands.
SoftHands studies the grasping and manipulation behaviours in humans to develop a new generation of artificial hands. To do this, we leverage on recent neuroscientific concepts regarding sensorimotor synergies and human motor control. The translation of such concepts in engineering uses new technologies, such as soft robotics, to build hands that move in a natural way and adapt to the environment, with an unprecedented level of performance, robustness, and intuitiveness of control. The new SoftHands have wide applications both in industrial and service robotics, and in prosthetics and rehabilitation.
ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2017-2018
A Soft Synergy-based Hand Prosthesis with Hybrid Control
In this project we want to apply the SoftHand robotic technology to develop a new generation of work-oriented prostheses. The working hypothesis is that the inspiration of SoftHands to human motor control principles is key in meeting hard requirements as high grip power, grasp versatility, resilience, resistance to water, dust, and temperature, durability, power autonomy and low cost, together with simplicity and intuitivity of the patiente interface.
ERC Synergy Grant 2018
Natural Integration of Bionic Limbs via Spinal Interfacing
“Natural BionicS” is a project dealing with the development of the latest-generation bionic prostheses, combining robotics, software and surgery, in order to obtain “natural” limbs to be connected to the central nervous system. The new bionic prostheses will be connected to the spinal cord, allowing almost unlimited intuitive movement control and perception. The project will be carried out by three partners, with different expertise, Antonio Bicchi in IIT, Dario Farina at London Imperial College, and Oskar Aszmann at Medizinische Universitat in Vienna.
ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2019-2020
Commercial feasibility of an integrated soft robotic system for industrial handling
Within the ""SoftHandler"" ERC Proof of Concept project, we propose to develop new industrial-grade systems, comprised of end-effectors based on the ""SoftHands"" technology, integrated with a novel manipulator, for automated picking and placing of objects of heterogeneous dimension, shape, weight, position and strength./p>
ERC Starting Grant 2013-2018
Intention-from-MOVEment Understanding: From moving bodies to interacting minds.
From observing other people’s movements, humans make inferences that go far beyond the surface flow of motion: inferences about unobservable mental states such as goals and intentions. I.MOVE.U intends to provide the first comprehensive account of how intentions are extracted from observed body motions during interaction with conspecifics.
ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2018-2019
A low-cost KInematic Detector to assist early diagnosis and objective profiling of ASD
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a heterogeneous set of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by deficits in social communication and reciprocal interactions, as well as stereotypic behaviours.Recent identification of atypical kinematic patterns in children and infants at increased risk for ASDs provides new insights into autism diagnostic and objective profiling. KiD intends to help move these insights into the development of a low cost, easy-to-use, yet reliable wearable tracking system, designed to assist detection and classification of ASDs. The main use of the devices will be to assist clinicians to achieve expedited diagnosis, ensuring early and timely access of children at risk of autism to evidence-based intervention programs.
Francesco De Angelis
ERC Consolidator Grant 2014-2018
The project aims at developing hybrid interfaces between living neuronal networks and optical and electronic nano-devices. It may give significant advances in the development of brain-machine interfaces and into understanding the neuronal code, namely how our brain processes and stores information.
ERC Consolidator 2014-2019
Engineering Discoidal Polymeric Nanoconstructs for the Multi-Physics Treatment of Brain Tumors.
The ERC Project Potent deals with the development of novel nanomedicines for the imaging and treatment of Glioblastoma Multifome – the most common and deadly form of primary brain cancer. Engineers, biotechnologists, physicists, chemists, pharmacologists, computational scientists and medical doctors work in a highly interdisciplinary environment for tackling such a challenging quest.
ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2019-2020
tPA-Nanoconstructs for Treating Acute Ischemic Stroke: a Technical and Commercial Analysis
Based on WHO reports, stroke affects 17M people per year worldwide, with 6M deaths and 5M survivors suffering long-lasting disabilities. This project aims at developing and validating more effective and less toxic therapies via the combination of the clinically approved molecule tPA and rationally-designed, discoidal polymeric nanoconstructs.
ERC Starting Grant 2015-2020
High-frequency printed and direct-written Organic-hybrid Integrated Circuits.
The project aims at developing a next generation of printable, lightweight flexible and large-area electronics which can operate at High Frequency, therefore drastically expanding the possible applications of such technology. From low speed sensors and microelectronics applications which are targeted today, the project aims at developing printed electronics building blocks, such as transistors, operating in the GHz range, thus envisioning advanced electronics for high resolution, full color flexible displays and for real time plastic imagers, up to enabling technologies for all printed and plastic wireless smart tags and local area networks of distributed and/or wearable sensors for healthcare, domotics and automation.
ERC Consolidator Grant 2015-2020
How neuronal activity patterns drive behavior: novel all-optical control and monitoring of brain neuronal networks with high spatiotemporal resolution.
NEURO-PATTERNS will unravel the language the brain uses to process and interpret information coming from the outside world. To this aim, we will produce a new technology for stimulating and monitoring neurons in the brain with single-cell specificity that can be adapted to explore cellular dynamics in a variety of biological media.
ERC Starting Grant 2016-2020
Colloidal Inorganic Nanostructures for Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy
Radio and chemotherapy are the major clinical treatments for cancer. However, these treatments lack cell specificity and can have severe side effects against healthy cells, especially when used in combination. This project aims at developing a nanocrystal (NC) platform to merge radio and chemotherapy into a single entity that is more specific towards tumor cells.
ERC Starting Grant 2016-2021
Multipoint Optical DEvices for Minimally invasive neural circuits interface
MODEM strives at developing new technologies for interfacing with the brain: a generation of devices able to better study the extreme complexity and diversity of brain topology and connectivity.
ERC Starting Grant 2017-2022
Intentional stance for social attunement.
Project InStance is dedicated to human social cognition in interaction with artificial agents. In particular, InStance examines conditions enabling social attunement between a human and a humanoid robot, and whether adopting intentional stance towards the robot plays a role in engagement of mechanisms of social cognition. The aim is not only to understand human social cognition, but also to provide guidelines on how to design robots well tuned to the workings of the human brain.
ERC Starting Grant 2017-2022
Magnetic Solid Lipid Nanoparticles as a Multifunctional Platform against Glioblastoma Multiforme
The SLaMM project aims at the development of multifunctional lipid-based nanovectors for the delivery and the targeting of drugs to the brain, in the treatment of extremely aggressive brain tumors. The nanovectors will be tested on a specifically developed in vitro model, before their final validation in vivo.
ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2019-2020
Advanced in vitro physiological models: Towards real-scale, biomimetic and biohybrid barriers-on-a-chip
The project is focused on the design, production, and proposal for commercialization of the first 1:1 scale 3D printed realistic model of the brain tumor microenvironment, with its associated blood neurovasculature. The proposed model can be easily adopted as multi-compartmental scaffold for the development of advanced co-culture systems.
ERC Consolidator Grant 2017-2022
Rescuing Cognitive Deficits in Neurodevelopmental Disorders by Gene Editing in Brain Development: the Case of Down Syndrome.
The project aims at investigating whether gene editing in a subpopulation of neuronal progenitors in the developing central nervous system can ameliorate cognitive impairment in mouse models of Down syndrome. Investigations on innovative in vivo delivery systems for the gene editing tools at higher translational value will complete the project.
ERC Starting Grant 2017-2020
Robots learning about objects from externalized knowledge sources
The project aims develop a new generation of robots able to acquire perceptual and semantic knowledge about object from externalized, unembodied resources, to be used in situated settings. By enabling robots to use knowledge resources on the Web that were not explicitly designed to be accessed for this purpose, RoboExNovo will pave the way for ground-breaking technological advances in home and service robotics, driver assistant systems, and in general any Web-connected situated device.
ERC Consolidator Grant 2018-2023
The role of Softness in the Physics of Defects: Probing Buried Interfaces in Perovskites Optoelectronic Devices
SOPHY will develop tools and knowledge to probe optoelectronic processes at buried interfaces delivering a long time pursued target in many fields of nanotechnology. Semiconducting metal halide perovskites, and devices based on them, will be the primary technology under investigation, given its potential to represent the merging point between the efficient inorganic and the chameleonic organic electronics. These materials have a characteristic structure prone to a wide set of defects, sensitive to the device operating conditions. The control of structure-properties relationship, especially at interfaces, is elusive, and the prediction of device operation, necessary to engineer reliable systems, is not possible without an “in vivo” approach. SOPHY addresses the above challenge by putting in place an experimental tool which will film the physical processes of an optoelectronic device in action.
ERC Advanced Grant 2018-2022
Computational Design of Mesoscale Porous Materials
COPMAT targeted the full-scale simulation at nanometric resolution of microfluidic devices for the design and synthesis of new tunable porous materials mostly, but not exclusively, for biomedical applications.
ERC Consolidator Grant 2018-2022
Light-Driven Asymmetric Organocatalysis
Visible light photocatalysis and metal-free organocatalytic processes are powerful strategies of modern chemical research with extraordinary potential for the sustainable preparation of organic molecules. However, these environmentally respectful approaches have to date remained largely unrelated. The proposed research seeks to merge these fields of molecule activation to redefine their synthetic potential.
ERC Consolidator Grant 2014
Novel neurophysiological techniques to quantify pain and stratify patients
In the last 15 years the advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms of pain have been spectacular. However, despite the >200 genes identified and the dramatic insights on transduction and transmission of nociceptive signals, very little has changed in the diagnosis and treatment of pain, at least in terms of analgesic drugs. The project has two main objectives: developing neurophysiological biomarkers of pain perception and developing neurophysiological biomarkers of the susceptibility to develop chronic pain
ERC Consolidator Grant 2018
Multi-Parameter Live-Cell Observation of Biomolecular Processes with Single-Photon Detector Array
Understanding how biomolecules behave - in a structural and dynamics sense - is the holy grail of cell biology research. The cell is a crowed and ever-changing environment where biomolecules jostle around, interact, concentrate, change in structure and organize in a hierarchical way to carry out all the process that regulate life. Deciphering the bimolecular processes underlying the physiology of a cell is fundamental to understand human health, ageing, and diseases. The overall objective of the BrightEyes project is to develop a set of innovative and non-invasive imaging and spectroscopy tools able to observe a single-biomolecule at work in a living multi-cellular system. Specifically, by exploring novel single-photon detectors arrays, the BrightEyes project will implement an optical system able to continuously (i) track in real-time a biomolecule of interest; (ii) measure its nano-environment and its structural changes; (iii) observe its interactions with other biomolecules; (iv) visualize its sub-cellular micro-environment with nanometre resolution.
ERC Starting Grant 2018
Neural drivers of functional disconnectivity in brain disorders
The DisConn project aims to study and understand the mechanisms under brain disease and psychic disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia. The project combines genetic studies and state-of-art neural imaging methods, in order to create a detailed map of central neural system organization and to understand the cerebral spots affected by neural diseases.
ERC Starting Grant 2018
investigating Human Shared PErception with Robots
wHiSPER aims to study mechanisms of human space and time perception and its changes during human-human or human-robot interactions.
Maria Rosa Antognazza
ERC Starting Grant 2019
Light INduced Cell control by Exogenous organic semiconductors
LINCE will develop light-sensitive devices based on organic semiconductors (OS) for optical regulation of living cells functions. The possibility to control the activity of biological systems is a timeless mission for neuroscientists, since it allows both to understand specific functions and to manage dysfunctions. Optical modulation provides, respect to traditional electrical methods, unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution, lower invasiveness, and higher selectivity.
ERC Starting Grant 2017
More projects have been won by Valentina Cauda and Iwan Moreels respectivelly:
- Starting Grant 2015: TROJANANOHORSE - Hybrid immune-eluding nanocrystals as smart and active theranostic weapons against cancer. The project is hosted by another research institute with whom IIT collaborates.
- Starting Grant 2016: PHOCONA - Photonics in Flatland: Band Structure Engineering of 2D Excitons in Fluorescent Colloidal Nanomaterials. The project is hosted by another research institute.