JMU Würzburg professor wins ERC Consolidator Grant to advance research on ferroptosis

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With the coveted Consolidator Grants totalling two million euros, the European Research Council (ERC) supports outstanding scientists whose work promises further top achievements. José Pedro Friedmann Angeli, Professor of Translational Cell Biology at Rudolf Virchow Centre - Centre for Integrative and Translational Bioimaging at Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg, now belongs to this group.

The prize winner is a pioneer in the field of ferroptosis. This special form of cell death is triggered by the accumulation of oxidised lipids and is associated with many pathological conditions, including cancer and neurodegeneration.

Recent studies have shown that inducing ferroptosis in cells can be an effective strategy against neuroblastomas and other difficult-to-treat tumours. This can be achieved by influencing key metabolic pathways regulating ferroptosis."

José Pedro Friedmann Angeli, Professor of Translational Cell Biology at Rudolf Virchow Centre - Centre for Integrative and Translational Bioimaging, Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg

Neuroblastomas are malignant tumors that occur in children.

Closing critical gaps in knowledge about ferroptosis

However, therapeutic breakthroughs are difficult to achieve in this way. "This is because we don't yet understand well enough the factors that control the process of ferroptosis," explains the JMU researcher. He wants to close these critical knowledge gaps with his ERC project DeciFERR (Deciphering and exploiting ferroptosis regulatory mechanism in cancer).

The project is based on the pioneering work carried out by Friedmann Angeli's group. Among other things, his team has identified two important systems involved in the regulation of ferroptosis: the enzyme glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) and the ferroptosis suppressor protein 1 (FSP1). These will now be the focal point for further research.

"The funding extended by the ERC is indispensable for turning our ideas into reality", says the Würzburg Professor. "With the assistance of three more scientists, we can now delve into a deeper understanding of the crucial process of achieving membrane redox homeostasis, and consequently, effectively translate these innovative strategies into preclinical cancer models."

Career of José Pedro Friedmann Angeli

The ERC awardee, born in 1983, studied biology at Universidade Estadual de Londrina in Brazil. He completed his biochemistry-based doctoral thesis at the University of São Paulo in 2011. As a Humboldt-Fellow, he moved to Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Centre for Health and Environment GmbH. From there, he joined the Rudolf Virchow Centre in Würzburg as head of a research group in 2018, where he was appointed University Professor of Translational Cell Biology in 2022. Since 2021 he has also been co-speaker of the DFG priority program "Ferroptosis: from Molecular Basics to Clinical Applications" (SPP2306).

Thanks to his pioneering work on ferroptosis, Friedmann Angeli has been included in the list of Highly Cited Researchers since 2021. This list includes researchers whose work is cited above average by others worldwide. Clarivate Analytics, a company specialising in citation data, compiles the Highly Cited List; it is based on the Web of Science database.

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