Wednesday, 29. November 2017

EU funds vascular research at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research

Dr. Michael Potente

Michael Potente receives a 2-Million-Euro grant from the European Research Council


Cardiologist Michael Potente, head of the research group "Angiogenesis and Metabolism" at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, Germany, is awarded one of the prestigious Consolidator Grants of the European Research Council (ERC). Over the next five years, the ERC will provide the scientist with two million Euros for his research on blood vessels. Potente has been successful for the second time with a project application to the ERC: In 2012 he was already awarded a Starting Grant.

The ERC’s call for proposals is highly competitive: only about one in ten of the submitted applications was approved. According to the ERC, the Consolidator Grant Program aims at "excellent scientists whose own independent working group is in the consolidation phase."

Potente is primarily interested in a cell layer, which lines the interior of blood vessels. Previously, he has been able to show that these so-called endothelial cells have a unique metabolism that is critical for the growth and function of blood vessels. However, the endothelium differs from organ to organ: "In the brain, for example, endothelial cells are tightly connected and form the so-called blood-brain barrier, through which only certain molecules can pass. In contrast, the endothelium in the liver is very permeable and thus ensures the detoxification function of the liver", says Potente.

However, it remains unclear how this organ-specific differentiation of endothelial cells is established. With the ERC funds, Potente aims to address this question and investigate the influence of the tissue milieu on the specialization of endothelial cells. His goal is to examine the relationship between metabolism, epigenetics (non-inherited change of genes) and cellular differentiation. "We suspect that organ-specific differences in endothelial metabolic state promote specialization through altered epigenetics and thus contribute to diversity within the vascular system," explains Potente. 

A particular focus of Potente's research project will be on potential changes in vascular endothelial function associated with obesity and aging. "We want to explore which metabolic products alter epigenetic programs in a way that the endothelium no longer functions properly and, in the worst case, the organ fails," says Potente. Their research could thus contribute to a better understanding of vascular diseases caused by changes in metabolism and nutrition.







ERC Consolidator Grant

ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding scientists who have gained approximately ten years of scientific experience after completing their doctorate and who have been more than successful in their area of research during this time. At the same time, scientists must work in an institution within the EU. The funding is up to 2 million Euro over five years.


The European Research Council (ERC)

The ERC was launched by the EU in 2007. The task is to promote innovative, cutting-edge research. The awarding of the various funding programs takes place annually. The ERC has three main funding lines: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants. An additional financing system, Synergy Grants, was reissued in 2017.

To date, the ERC has funded more than 7,500 top researchers at various stages of their careers and more than 50,000 postdocs, graduate students and other staff in their research teams. The ERC has an annual budget of EUR 1.8 billion for 2017. This represents about one percent of all research spending in Europe. With a budget of over € 13 billion for the years 2014 to 2020, the ERC is part of the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, for which Commissioner Carlos Moedas is responsible. The ERC is run by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council, whose president has been Jean-Pierre Bourguignon since 2014.

PR contact


Dr. Matthias Heil

Press officer

Ludwigstrasse 43

D-61231 Bad Nauheim

Tel. +49 (0)6032 705-1705

© 2018 Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim, Germany