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Prestigious grants to LU researchers


Four researchers at Lund University have been awarded SEK 73 million in prestigious grants from the European Research Council (ERC). The grants go to research on Alzheimer’s disease, self-constructing nanoparticles, electron studies using ultrafast camera flashes, and nanowires.

In the announcement of the ERC grants, Lund University topped the league among Swedish universities with three advanced grants and one starting grant. Chemists Sara Snogerup Linse and Peter Schurtenberger, along with atomic physicist Anne L’Huillier were each awarded an ERC advanced grant, which are aimed at established researchers who are global leaders in their field. Kimberly Thelander was awarded an ERC starting grant for promising young researchers. It is the second time that Professor Anne L’Huillier has been awarded an advanced grant.

Sara Snogerup Linse, Professor of Physical Chemistry and Molecular Protein Science, will receive almost SEK 22 million for her research on Alzheimer’s disease. Her research involves studying the early stages of the chain reaction that causes brain cells to die. Alzheimer’s disease leads to memory loss and personality changes. As yet, no one knows exactly how the disease develops, but a protein fragment known as amyloid-beta is believed to be an important component of the disease mechanism. Amyloid-beta is found in the liquid around the brain and in the spinal cord. Alzheimer’s sufferers have accumulations of amyloid-beta in the brain, known as plaques. Sara Snogerup Linse is conducting a detailed study of the process by which the amyloid-beta forms the component parts of these plaques. It is hoped that, in the long term, the research findings could lead to a new type of drug that could be effective in the very early stages of the disease.

Peter Schurtenberger, Professor of Physical Chemistry, will receive almost SEK 21 million for his research on creating custom-designed colloids (nanoparticles) that can build complex structures by themselves - much as if Lego bricks could organize themselves and build a Lego house using built-in instructions . The inspiration for this research came from nature’s own ability to make the smallest component parts of cells, molecules, bind to one another and build the structures that together form the ingenious internal machinery of living cells. The goal is to build similarly complex structures in nanotechnology, with the building instructions programmed into the components from the start. Unlike the molecules in a cell, the colloids that Peter Schurtenberger uses in this research are large enough to study under a microscope during the building processes being tested.

Anne L'Huillier, Professor of Atomic Physics, will receive over SEK 17 million over five years. Her research is about ultrafast atomic physics, also called attophysics, which opens our eyes to a world that we have long known existed but have not previously been able to see – the world of electrons. It is a world of incredibly small and fast processes and phenomena. The development of laser technology has come so far that we are now able to study that world using ultrashort attosecond light pulses (an attosecond is a billionth of a billionth of a second) that function as ultrafast camera flashes. Using the ERC funding, Anne L'Huillier and her colleagues will study fundamental issues in atomic physics. Put simply, this is about studying how an atom becomes an ion, measuring where, when and how electrons leave an atom, and how fast electrons move.

Kimberly Dick Thelander, senior lecturer in Solid State Physics, has been awarded an ERC starting grant for young researchers. Kimberly Dick Thelander will receive SEK 13 million over five years for her research on next-generation nanowires.


Sara Snogerup Linse
+46 46 222 82 46, +46 702 50 77 66

Peter Schurtenberger
+46 46 222 82 19, +46 761 25 44 22

Anne L'Huillier, +46 46 222 76 61, +46 705 31 75 29

Kimberly Dick Thelander, +46 46 222 97 65, +46 703 68 48 52