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ERC Starting Grant for Karen Lienkamp

Two of FRIAS’ former Junior Fellows have been awarded one of the most prestigious grants in Europe. Dr Karen Lienkamp (chemistry) and Dr Miriam Erlacher (medicine) will each receive an ERC Starting Grant of around 1.5 million from the European Union euros to support their research work over the next five years.

Chemist Karen Lienkamp is researching defective polymer-functionalised surfaces, such as those found in medical devices and sensors. To date, the only way to repair germ-ridden catheters and unreactive sensors has been to replace them. Karen Lienkamp is researching ways that enable these polymer-functionalised surfaces to “shed their layers” and thus regenerate. With her team, she wants to set up a technology platform that allows polymers in multilayer systems to selectively detach their top functional layer, thus removing the defect and revealing a new, functional layer underneath. This would stop germs from building up on medical devices and thus prevent life-threatening infections. Karen Lienkamp is working on her postdoctoral research project as part of her “Chemistry & Physics of Interfaces” professorship at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg, and also heads the “Bioactive Polymer Synthesis and Surface Engineering” Junior Research Group. Between 2010 and 2014, Karen Lienkamp was a Junior Fellow at the School of Soft Matter Research at FRIAS.

The European Research Council’s highly competitive funding programme (ERC Starting Grants) is aimed at supporting the top-level research of independent, early-stage researchers from all disciplines. The ERC’s sole selection criterion is the applicant’s academic excellence. Of the 3,272 applications submitted in this round, 328 projects were recommended for funding. The selected academics will receive funding for up to five years.