The European Research Council has awarded Prof. Piet Gros of Utrecht University his second ERC Advanced Grant. The grant of almost 2.5 million Euros enables him to take his research into our immune system in a new direction. Gros studies how proteins in our blood determine whether a cell is healthy or not, and should therefore be protected or cleared from our body. Problems with the clearance of injured cells appear to play a role in more and more diseases, but scientists know little as yet about the crucial first step in this process, how are injured cells distinguished from healthy ones.
Piet Gros is a pioneer in research into the complement system. In humans and animals, the complement system is a first line of defence against pathogens. “When I started on this research 15 years ago, a session on the complement system at the largest international immunology conference would attract around a dozen researchers. But today, it can draw hundreds”, Gros explains. In 2010, his ground-breaking research won him the NWO Spinoza Prize, the highest Dutch award in the field of science. On 13 April, his major contributions to our understanding of the complement system are also recognised with the Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography 2018, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.