The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded its Consolidator Grants. These prestigious grants, awarded to individual researchers, are worth about 2 million euros each. Two KU Leuven researchers are among this year’s recipients: Professor Jan De Loecker and Professor Rob Lavigne.
economist JAN DE LOECKER: market power
Professor De Loecker from the Faculty of Economics and Business was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant for his project "M-Power: The Aggregate Implications of Market Power".
ROB LAVIGNE: designer bacteria
Professor Rob Lavigne from the Department of Biosystems was awarded a grant for his research into the natural enemies of bacteria: a type of virus known as bacteriophages.
"We already know quite a lot about how phages infect and destroy bacteria," Lavigne explains. "In fact, my team and I have already used these mechanisms to ’hack’ superbacteria and stop life-threatening infections."
"The ERC Consolidator Grant allows us to take our research down a radically different path: we’re going to use our understanding of how phages work to make useful bacteria stronger. This can have applications ranging from the food industry and washing powders to the production of vaccines."
There’s no guarantee that this will work, however. "That’s the good thing about ERC Consolidator Grants," Lavigne continues. "The selection panel leaves room for creativity and innovation: they look for revolutionary research and they’re willing to take the risk that it won’t work out as planned."
Katrien Bollen, Jan De Loecker portrait by Rene Clement, Rob Lavigne portrait by An Olaerts