Prestigious grant for research on molecular aging and cancer – University of Copenhagen

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08 December 2015

Prestigious grant for research on molecular aging and cancer

Molecular aging

Associate Professor Andres Lopez-Contreras from the Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, the University of Copenhagen, has received one of the prestigious ERC Starting Grants from the European Research Council. He wishes to examine how genomic instability affects aging processes and the development of cancer.

ERC Starting Grants aim at supporting promising young researchers in establishing proper research groups. Associate Professor Andres Lopez-Contreras from the Center for Healthy Aging, Center for Chromosome Stability and the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine has received an ERC Starting Grant of EUR 1.5 million. The grant will allow him to expand his research group and will increase the international visibility of this research area.

The enemy within the DNA

Research findings indicate that chromosome instability is an underlying cause of aging related disorders, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Changes in our DNA can be triggered not only by external factors, but also by intrinsically unstable regions within the human genome itself, and Andres Lopez-Contreras’ research focuses on these fragile regions known as chromosomal common fragile sites, CFS, – how they drive tissue aging and cancer.

“The fragile sites are highly mutated in cancer. Therefore, understanding how the sites are regulated could provide potential future applications treatments of cancer and other age related diseases in the future”, says Andres Lopez-Contreras.

Fragile regions conserved through evolution

Current research shows that fragile regions in the DNA have been conserved through evolution despite their instability.

“These fragile regions have been conserved through evolution, which indicates an important function – we just don’t know what it is yet. I hope to identify the biological functions of these genomic regions, which would explain why they were conserved through evolution despite their inherent fragility. On the other hand, I aim to elucidate the factors and mechanisms that regulate their fragility”, explains Andres Lopez-Contreras

Andres Lopez-Contreras about receiving the grant:  
“In Europe, being an ERC awardee is very prestigious. However, I take this merely as a starting point and a great opportunity that will help me achieve my research goals. With this grant and in collaboration with my group and colleagues, I will do my best to demonstrate that I deserved this opportunity”.  

Contact

Associate Professor Andres Lopez-Contreras, mobile: + 45 21 55 35 63