Published: 12-02-2024 10:56 | Updated: 16-04-2024 19:14

ERC Starting Grant awarded to KI researcher Alessandro Furlan

several brain cells illustrated on a dark background.
Photo: Gerd Altmann,Pixabay

The European Research Council (ERC) awards a Starting Grant to promising young investigators in a variety of research fields, to kick off their careers. Alessandro Furlan, Assistant Professor at the Department of Neuroscience, who investigates how the brain and body work together to regulate critical physiological processes, is one of the early-stage scientists to be awarded this five-year grant.

Portrait of Alessandro Furlan
Alessandro Furlan. Photo: Caryn Koza

We asked Alessandro Furlan to give us a short description of his project?

We believe that changes in how our fat cells (adipocytes) work can affect our brain. Alterations in adipose tissue physiology translate into a change in brain function, which in turn further disrupts our body's ability to keep fat in balance, which could accelerate disease progression. My project aims to elucidate this vicious loop by investigating the activity of special brain neurons that are the targets of these alterations in physiological and pathological conditions.

How will you proceed?

To this aim, we will use an interdisciplinary approach, which includes the mix of several techniques such as opto- and chemo-genetics, single-cell sequencing, in vivo imaging methodologies, and metabolic phenotyping.

Our investigation will lead to a deeper understanding of how the nerves and the adipocytes communicate with one another. Our findings will contribute to the design of long-term treatment against obesity and its comorbidities.

What does this grant mean for your research and for you personally?

The ERC starting grant will support my research for five years, allowing me to push this project beyond the current state of the art. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and honored to have been selected as a recipient of this prestigious award.

Who else is taking part in the study?

I can count on a rich network of collaborators, both within and outside Sweden, from diverse disciplines, including experts in endocrinology, neuroscience, and molecular neurobiology.