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Alexander Stark wins ERC Starting Grant

07 Oct 2009
ERC Grant for Alex Stark

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a Starting Independent Researcher Grant to IMP Group Leader Alex Stark. The German biochemist and computational biologist is one of three life scientists based in Austria whose research will be funded in the 2008 round of the call. Stark will receive 1.8 million Euro over a period of five years.

The goal of his research project is to explain how gene regulatory information is encoded by the genome. Contrary to the genetic code, this “regulatory code” cannot yet be deciphered and is still poorly understood. To address this issue, the IMP-team will use a regulatory genomics approach in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, combining experimental and computational methods. “We anticipate that we will learn general principles, which will hold across tissues and animals, and might ultimately lead to the general regulatory code”, says Alex Stark.

The ERC Starting Grant supports top research leaders in the early stages of their career who are about to establish their own team and start conducting independent research. The scheme targets young talents who have already shown the potential for research independence and who are able to demonstrate a promising track-record of early achievements.

Since its foundation in 2007, the ERC has launched two calls for Starting Grants and two calls for Advanced Grants (one of them still ongoing). IMP-researchers have been successful in all three rounds that have been completed so far (Stefan Westermann, Starting Grant in 2007 and Barry Dickson, Advanced Grant in 2008). The second call for Starting Grants was launched earlier this year. Out of the 2503 proposals that were submitted in all disciplines, 240 were evaluated positively.

Alex Stark joined the IMP in October 2008. Prior to his current position he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and at CSAIL MIT. Stark studied biochemistry at the University of Tübingen and the University of North Carolina. He received his PhD from the EMBL in Heidelberg and the University of Cologne.

>>Link to the ERC:
>>Link to the Stark lab:
PostDoc positions available! Applicants please send an email to alex.stark(at)