ERC Starting Grant for Joris Deelen

Research Group Leader Joris Deelen was awarded with the prestigious ERC Starting Grant.

Research on genetic mechanisms underlying healthy ageing

Joris Deelen, head of the Research Group ‘Genetics and Biomarkers of Human Ageing’ at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, was awarded with the prestigious Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC), which is endowed with 1.5 million euros. The award aims to support the most talented scientists in Europe to give them the freedom to pursue their ideas. Deelen has also previously been awarded a Longevity Impetus Grant. His group is studying the genetic mechanisms underlying healthy ageing in humans.

Ageing is one of the fundamental challenges facing our society. Deelen wants to understand why some people age healthier than others. He studies the genome of long-lived individuals to find genetic variants that contribute to healthy ageing and tries to identify biomarkers of ageing present in the blood. In his ERC-funded project “ElucidAge” he will investigate genetic variants that are unique to long-lived individuals. He will use cell culture and animal models, such as fruit flies and mice, to study the function of the genes containing the identified variants and their role in the ageing process.

“I am incredibly happy and proud to receive these two grants. It is a great honor for me. This funding will enable me to massively expand my research on the genetics of longevity in the coming years and allows me to pursue new research directions”, says Deelen. “The Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and the neighbouring Cluster of Excellence "Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases" (CECAD) offer me the ideal environment for my work. Not only do we have state-of-the-art core facilities available here, but I can also exchange ideas with many renowned researchers working on the biology of ageing.”

The awardee

Deelen studied biomedical sciences at the Leiden University in the Netherlands from 2003 to 2014 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Leiden University Medical Center under supervision of Eline Slagboom. In 2016 he moved to the department of Institute Director Linda Partridge at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne. At the beginning of April 2020 he started his own research group "Genetics and Biomarkers of Human Ageing".

The European Research Council (ERC)

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. ERC Starting Grants are awarded to researchers with two to seven years of experience since completion of the PhD (or equivalent degree) and a scientific track record showing great promise. The research must be conducted in a public or private research organisation located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries. The funding (up to €1.5 million per grant) is provided over up to five years.

Longevity Impetus Grants

“Impetus Grants provide scientists with the opportunity to begin work immediately on what they consider to be the most important problems in the biology of ageing. Such work should not be held up by red tape.“ (Longevity Impetus Grants)