Luca Giorgetti receives SNSF Consolidator Grant
Today the SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) announced the recipients of the SNSF Consolidator Grants 2022, a transitional funding measure aimed at researchers who planned to apply for an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2022. FMI group leader Luca Giorgetti is among the grantees; he will use his grant to study the fundamental principles that govern enhancer biology.
A total of 182 applications for an SNSF Consolidator Grant 2022 were evaluated. After a two-stage evaluation, the SNSF decided to fund 30 applications. They will be supported with a total of almost CHF 54 million over an average of five years.
Luca Giorgetti’s research project
Research in Luca Giorgetti’s lab is focused on the interactions between enhancers and promoters — two types of DNA sequences which are essential for gene transcription, the process by which a piece of DNA that codes for a specific gene is copied into messenger RNA. Promoters are located immediately before genes where dedicated proteins bind to initiate transcription. Enhancers ensure that promoters are activated at the right time, in the right tissue and at the right level. They are thought to do so by physically interacting with their target promoters, even if they are often separated by hundreds of thousands of base pairs.
Mutations in enhancer sequences are a major driver of diversity and evolution in multicellular organisms, and are also associated with complex human diseases (such as Crohn’s disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and cancer) and causal to congenital disorders. Despite their central role in health and disease, however, the principles by which enhancers select and control their target promoter remain largely unknown.
Giorgetti plans to use his grant to generate an experimental approach that will allow his team to measure the effects of systematic changes in enhancer sequence, number and genomic position on promoter expression. The researchers will be doing so by generating very large numbers of artificial genomic sequences that can be programmed with increasing and controllable levels of complexity, and inserting them in the genome using state-of-the-art genome editing techniques. With these experiments, Giorgetti aims at providing an entirely new quantitative description of the fundamental principles that govern enhancer biology and thus enable genomic sequences to be translated into gene expression programs. His work could establish new directions for research in gene regulation and genetics.
Giorgetti has been leading a research group in Genome Regulation at the FMI since 2015. He studied physics at the University of Milano, received his PhD from the European Institute of Oncology, Milano, and did a postdoc at the Institut Curie, Paris. He was awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2017.
About the SNSF Consolidator Grants
Due to Switzerland’s current status of non-associated third-country in Horizon Europe, the SNSF has launched the transitional measure ’SNSF Consolidator Grants 2022’ on behalf of the Swiss government. It is aimed at researchers (based in Switzerland or abroad) who planned to apply for an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2022. Successful applicants will be able to conduct research in Switzerland and consolidate their scientific independence. The scheme is open to all fields of research; researchers of any nationality may apply. Applicants can request a budget of up to CHF 1.75 million for a maximum of five years.