10 April 2015

Rutger Hermsen (Biology) receives 750,000 Dollars for research into remarkable behaviour of pneumococci

The international Human Frontier Science Program has awarded a grant to a project by Dr. Rutger Hermsen (Biology) and his colleague, Dr. Minsu Kim of Emory University in Atlanta. They will receive $750,000 for research into the remarkable habit of Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, to attack members of its own species with chemical weapons. Of the 250 letters of intent received, 20 teams have been invited to submit a full project proposal. Of these, only 10 have been awarded a grant.

Hermsen and Kim’s research is primarily driven by their curiosity about the strange behaviour displayed by this bacterium. But pneumococci are also major pathogens that can cause diseases such as neuro-meningeal infections and food poisoning. A thorough understanding of their behaviour can therefore be of vital importance. For their research, the scientists will use experiments with single-cell resolution (microfluidics, multi-fluorescence time-lapse microscopy) and relevant theoretical models of the biochemical network and its evolution.

Human Frontier Science Program

The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) is an international programme that finances ground-breaking research into complex processes in living organisms. The programme has an annual budget of around 50 million Dollars, and includes participants from the European Union, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, South Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland.