Photo collage of Fredrik Westerlund and Åsa Haglund.
Fredrik Westerlund and Åsa Haglund at Chalmers University of Technology receive the prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant.​
​Photo: Johan Bodell / Chalmers

Two out of ten ERC Grants for Sweden to Chalmers

Two researchers at Chalmers University of Technology are among the ten researchers in Sweden who on 10 December receive the prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant. Fredrik Westerlund can now deepen the studies of how broken DNA is repaired and why it sometimes goes wrong. Åsa Haglund is given the possibility to develop a recently demonstrated method to realize a new kind of ultraviolet laser.
Through the grants from from the European Research Council, ERC, the two researchers receive EUR 2 million (approximately SEK 22.5 million) each distributed over five years, to strengthen their research groups and realize their research projects and have far-reaching impact.
 

Fredrik Westerlund

The project is divided into two parts, one part is method development for investigating interactions between DNA and proteins, focusing on the ends of the DNA. In the biochemical part of the project focus lies on the mechanisms of the repair of broken DNA.
 
“When using other methods for single DNA molecule analysis, the ends need to be attached to something. That makes it impossible to study what happens in these areas. The ends are very relevant to study, especially for DNA repair analysis. In our nanochannels the DNA is suspended free in solution and the whole molecule can be examined. Now we want to find ways to add proteins to the DNA in the nanochannels in real time to characterise how they interact with the DNA,” says Fredrik Westerlund.
 
 

Åsa Haglund

Her project "Out of the blue: membrane-based microcavity lasers from the blue to the ultraviolet wavelength regime" is focused on pushing the wavelength of microcavity lasers really into the ultraviolet.
 
"Our approach is based upon a unique membrane technique we have developed over the past three years to enable vertical cavity lasers with highly reflective dielectric mirrors on both sides of the cavity – a device concept previously un-realizable for UV-lasers. Once realized these lasers would be of interest for a wide range of applications such as water purification, photolithography, enhancing health-promoting substances in plants, gas sensing, medical diagnostics and treatments, and UV curing", Åsa Haglund explains.
 
 
When the European Research Council on 10 December 2019 announced the winners of its latest Consolidator Grant competition all together 301 top scientists and scholars across Europe get prestigious funding, worth in total EUR 600 million.
 
Text: Anita Fors, Susanne Nilsson Lindh and Michael Nystås

Published: Tue 17 Dec 2019.