Researcher gets €2.5m for antibiotic work

Professor Paul Ross, Director of APC Microbiome Ireland, a world-leading SFI research centre based at University College Cork, has been awarded a highly competitive European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant.
Researcher gets €2.5m for antibiotic work

Professor Paul Ross has been awarded one of Europe’s most competitive research funding grants. Picture: Clare Keogh.

A UCC researcher has been awarded a prestigious €2.5m grant to investigate viable alternatives to antibiotics.

Professor Paul Ross, Director of APC Microbiome Ireland, a world-leading SFI research centre based at University College Cork, has been awarded a highly competitive European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant.

ERC Advanced funding is awarded to leading researchers in Europe, for groundbreaking projects that tackle the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges.

Professor Ross is the first researcher based at UCC to secure an ERC Advanced Award, and has received funding of €2.5 million for a project entitled BACtheWINNER.

His project hopes to tackle the antimicrobial resistance crisis, where the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials such as antibiotics and antivirals has led to the rapid emergence of resistant bacteria.

Professor Ross will explore the potential of naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides (bacteriocins) produced by bacteria in the human gut for the development of new antimicrobial therapies.

Bacteriocins kill drug-resistant bacteria while avoiding the collateral damage caused by broad antibiotics to gut microbiota, the collection of beneficial bacteria, viruses and fungi that inhabit intestines.

Together with key collaborator Professor Colin Hill, also based at APC Microbiome Ireland at UCC, Prof. Ross will lead a team of scientists who aim to develop bacteriocins as effective antimicrobials.

Professor Paul Ross said he is “delighted” to receive an ERC Advanced Award to further investigate bacteriocins as alternative therapeutics to antibiotics, “in a time when we now appreciate the role of the microbiota in human and animal health”.

“By investigating bacteriocins as potential clinical antimicrobials, we can explore antibiotic alternatives that are target-specific and do not cause collateral damage to microbiomes. Bacteriocins are the most important group of antimicrobial peptides with potentially revolutionary applications in health,” he said.

Professor John Cryan, Vice President for Research & Innovation at UCC, welcomed the announcement.

“I congratulate Professor Ross in securing such a highly competitive and prestigious award from the European Research Council, which is testament to the transformative research taking place at APC Microbiome Ireland within our UCC Futures: Food, Microbiome & Health initiative,” he said.

Professor John O’Halloran, President of UCC, extended “the warmest congratulations” to Professor Paul Ross on his “significant achievement”.

“This award will enable Paul to advance his pioneering, impactful research in microbiome science,” he said.

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