The consortium of the RISK-IR project brings together expertise from 13 research groups of 10 institutions from 7 European countries.
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It has obtained recently five Starting Grants from the European Research Council (ERC), as well as an Advanced Grant in Artificial Intelligence. Furthermore, four Nobel Prizes, one Fields Medal, three Wolf Prizes and two Marie Curie Prizes prove the University's longstanding tradition of excellence.
The Interdisciplenary Research Institute in Human and Molecular Biology (IRIBHM) is one of the research institutes of the ULB, which is located in the campus of the medical school. The biomedical research in IRIBHM uses interdisciplinary approaches, including molecular genetics, cellular biology and theoretical biology to study the fundamental question of human disorders. IRIBHM hosts around 150 researchers from different thematics and is headed by Prof. Marc Parmentier, a scientist of international reputation, whose work, apart from being published at the highest impact factor journals such as Nature, Cell and Science, has also been recognized by the appointment of many scientific awards, such as the Prix Franqui and the Liliane Bettencourt award for biological sciences. Moreover, IRIBHM is situated next to the Erasme University hospital, which allows communication with the medical staff and access to human samples.
Dr Panagiota Sotiropoulou, leader of the “maintenance of genomic integrity in stem cells and cancer stem cells” team within Dr. Blanpain’s group, is a “chercheur qualifié” of the FNRS in ULB, and will contribute to the activities of WP2 and WP3. Dr Sotiropoulou was one of the first to describe the effect of irradiation to stem cells in vivo, and she was also implicated in the contribution of adult stem cells in the initiation of cancer. Her work has been published in high impact factor journals, such as Nature Cell Biology, Cell Stem Cell and Stem Cells. Many European scientists have been visiting her team to be trained in methods of skin stem purification and assess of DNA damage and its outcome in the very low numbers of cells that can be obtained after ex vivo stem cell isolation. Her team is part of Dr Blanpain’s group, a total of 35 researchers studying the role of stem cells in the embryonic development and the cellular homeostasis of cancer. The high quality of the group is reflected by the numerous international research grants, awards and distinctions, such as a research grant by the FNRS, by the “Belgian American Educational Foundation”, the “Human Science Frontier Program Organization (HFSP)”, the “mandat d’impulsion scientifique” from FNRS, the “Career Development Award” of the HFSP, a grant from the Schlumberger foundation for Education and Research and a “Starting Grant” from European Research Council (ERC).
ULB’s role will be to study the effect of low dose irradiation to the different types of epidermal stem cells in vivo within their natural niche, as well as to investigate the role of age to the stem cell response to low dose irradiation.