28 November 2018

ERC Consolidator Grant for Lukas Kapitein

An ERC Consolidator Grant was awarded to Lukas Kapitein, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biophysics at Utrecht University since August 1. Kapitein will use the two-million-euro grant to study the transport system inside neurons.

Lukas Kapitein

Kapitein: “Most of the cells in our bodies are replaced every few weeks or so, but neurons have to last for our entire lives. It’s really amazing that a nerve cell can keep active for 80 or 90 years. The cells’ ability to maintain themselves and solve problems is vital for proper functioning throughout this whole period. Since these cells have long offshoots, their internal transport system plays an important role in all of those processes.”

Het transportsysteem in een zenuwcel
Using advanced microscopy, Lukas Kapitein shows the road system in a nerve cell. Blue: microtubuli, magenta: actin. (Image: Eugene Katrukha, Kapitein-lab)

The cell’s road map and traffic rules

Neurons arrange transportation within the cells by means of motor proteins that can ‘walk’ across protein tubules. Kapitein will use the grant to visualise this transport process and the roads along which it takes place with the aid of advanced microscopy technologies. “In order to understand transport, you have to know the road map and the traffic rules. We’re constantly learning more about that. For example, our research recently discovered an unexpected organisation of the road network. We aim to use the new grant to understand how that organisation is formed, and how it results in the proper distribution of cellular elements in these refined cells.”

Lukas Kapitein’s research grants

Each year, the European Research Council awards Consolidator Grants to around 300 talented researchers from all over Europe, who have proven themselves in their field of expertise over the course of their careers. The research by Lukas Kapitein (1978) has already earned him considerable recognition. In 2013, he received both an ERC Starting Grant for € 1.5 million, and a Vidi grant from the NWO. Kapitein earned his PhD at the VU Amsterdam in 2007, then went on to conduct postdoctoral research at the Erasmus MC. He has worked at Utrecht University since 2011, and was appointed Full Professor on August 1 of this year. On 10 September 2019, he will give his inaugural lecture.