The European Research Council (ERC), a European Union body that supports scientific excellence through competitive funding, published the list of the winning projects of the Consolidator Grants. Among the funded works is that of Chiara Ambrogio, researcher at the Molecular Biotechnology Center of the University of Turin, who presented the project entitled “KARMA – From understanding the dynamics of the KRAS-RAF membrane to new therapeutic strategies in cancer”. The grant, reserved for researchers with between 7 and 12 years of experience since the completion of their PhD and a rich scientific curriculum, consists of a funding of 2 million euros.
Dr. Ambrogio’s project focuses on the study of mutations in the KRAS gene. These mutations can trigger abnormal cell growth which, in turn, can cause lung, pancreatic and colon cancer. Although KRAS mutations were discovered more than 30 years ago, a detailed understanding of the biological properties of tumors caused by this mutated gene is still a long way off. Chiara Ambrogio will use her new ERC funding to investigate the processes that trigger hyperactivation of KRAS on the cell membrane. The in-depth knowledge of these mechanisms will be fundamental to discover new strategies to treat patients with tumors caused by mutations in the KRAS gene.
Dr. Ambrogio’s career has an interesting international profile. After a degree in medical biotechnology and a PhD in immunology and cell biology at the University of Turin, she moved to Madrid in 2009 to work at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO). In 2016 she moved to the United States, to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, to complete her translational training. In 2019, thanks to winning the grant Career Development Award of the Giovanni Armenise Harvard Foundation, which promotes basic research in the biomedical field by funding young scientists who want to work in Italy from abroad, she created a research group at the Molecular Biotechnology Center of the University of Turin (MBC), returning to turn her scientific activity in our country.
“This is an enormous opportunity to carry out research projects of international value in our Center – says Chiara Ambrogio – as well as being an opportunity to give visibility to the whole University”.
“The centrality of scientific research – says Stefano Geuna, Rector of the University of Turin – is one of the fundamental values of our University. The prestigious award obtained by Dr. Ambrogio is the confirmation that we are working in the right direction, supporting young scientists and their projects. Our goal is to continue to attract talent, in the firm conviction that this is the only way we can contribute to development and progress in the scientific field, in Italy and in Europe”.