Jerusalem, Dec. 26, 2007 - Five young Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists have been awarded five-year research grants under the European Union's first competition for outstanding starting independent investigators. The amount awarded to the five Hebrew University winners totals 6,380,000 euros.
The winners were chosen on the basis of having presented excellent, ground-breaking research ideas, plus having displayed proven potential to establish independent research careers and to become world leaders in their fields. .
"In view of the intense competitiveness of this program, this represents an outstanding achievement for the Hebrew University," said Prof. Hillel Bercovier, vice-president for research and development of the university. The Hebrew University was one of only a few institutions that had as many as five grant winners.
The research grants are being given through the European Research Council (ERC), a new research funding body created under the EU's 7th Framework Program for Research, and are designed to enable the young researchers to carry out specific research projects.
In the competition, about 200 up-and-coming research leaders -- all of whom received their doctorates between two and nine years ago - were chosen from more than 9,600 applicants. The successful candidates represent over 30 nationalities and are based in some 170 host institutions in 21 different countries. Israel ranked seventh in the number of total grant winners by countries. .
The starting grants are designed to boost the careers of researchers, who may be working in any area of science or scholarship, at the time they are establishing themselves as independent research leaders. The average age of the successful grant winners is 35, and 26% are women.
The five Hebrew University winners and their research projects are:
Dr. Sigal Ben Yehuda of the Faculty of Medicine -- investigation of the nature of dormant bacterial spores.
Dr. Tsachik Gelander of the Einstein Institute of Mathematics -- group theory and geometry.
Dr. Adi Mizrahi of the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences -- using optical imaging to probe long-term neurophysiological changes in vivo.
Prof. Reem Sari of the Racah Institute of Physics -- planets in the solar system and beyohd: how they form and how they evolve.
Dr. Assaf Fiedler of the Institute of Chemistry -- new methodology for the design of drugs that act by modulating proteins: applications for cancer and AIDS.