Seven Crick scientists secure Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowships

Zoom screenshot showing the seven Crick postdocs who received MSCA Fellowships in 2021.

Crick postdocs Jacob Lewis, LuYan CAO, Jessica Huber, Marta Gross, Ana Bolhaqueiro and Krijn Dijkstra, with Olivier Stephan and Thomas Wileman from the Crick's grants team.

Seven Crick scientists are celebrating after being awarded prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowships by the European Commission.

MSCA funding allows researchers to tackle the unique questions that they’re passionate about, whatever the discipline. The grants cover salaries and expenses for research, training and networking, with a strong focus on mobility and collaboration. The Brexit deal also means that UK-based researchers can keep applying for these fellowships when the next EU Framework Programme launches later this year. 

The European Commission received more than 11,500 proposals in the latest round of applications - a 17% increase on the previous year. Across Europe, around 12% of the applications were successful. The Crick’s success rate of 38.9% demonstrates the talent and hard work of our postdoc community. 

Jessica Huber, Jacob Lewis, Krijn Dijkstra, Ana Bolhaqueiro, Nitin Kapadia, LuYan CAO and Marta Gross tell us about what motivated them to apply, and what they’re looking forward to as they begin their fellowships.

MSCA fellows

Jessica Huber, Molecular Structure of Cell Signalling Laboratory

“This prestigious fellowship is an opportunity to pursue my ambitious interdisciplinary project studying the role of a specific enzyme, TRIM28, in cancer cells. I look forward to learning new skills that will help my research to gain momentum. My group leader Katrin Rittinger encouraged me to apply – she is a great mentor and an inspiring role model for female scientists.”

Jacob Lewis, Macromolecular Machines Laboratory

“My research focuses on visualising DNA replication at the molecular level, combining cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy with biochemistry. The state-of-the-art science carried out at the Crick, which is constantly pushing the envelope, inspired my application. This award is a great privilege and will help me to tackle fundamental biological questions as I establish my career in academia.”

Krijn Dijkstra, Cancer Evolution and Genome Instability Laboratory

“My project involves generating ‘mini-tumours’ to find out why some regions of a tumour can be effectively destroyed by immune cells, while others can’t. I joined Charlie Swanton’s lab so that I could learn how to use bioinformatics to complement my wet lab skills. This fellowship is recognition of the value of my research project and I hope it acts as a stepping stone towards additional funding that will enable me to set up my own lab.”

Ana Bolhaqueiro, Epithelial Cell Interactions Laboratory

“I will be studying how a tissue subject to chronic stress can replace defective cells with healthy ones, which ensures the formation of a functioning organ. This award will enable me to conduct more impactful research, which I’ll be able to share through a wider network, including at conferences. I’m pleased that my project has been recognised in this way, and has been considered as relevant and exciting as I think it is.”

Nitin KapadiaCell Cycle Laboratory 

“I work on CDK activation and the dynamics of how cells regulate their size, using time-lapse microscopy with microfluidics. I found out more about the fellowship from the Crick Grants team, who held seminars explaining the benefits that this funding brings. I look forward to meeting the other MSCA Fellows and acquiring new skills as I become an independent scientist.”

LuYan CAO, Cellular Signalling and Cytoskeletal Function Laboratory

“This fellowship will help me to continue my research into a cellular protein, the Arp2/3 complex, which has a role in a number of biological processes. I am grateful to my group leader Michael Way, who fully supported my application. The award will ensure I can operate at the highest level as I complete my postdoctoral training at the Crick.”

Marta Gross

Marta Gross, Chromosome Replication Laboratory

“This award especially means a lot to me as a Polish woman, as I see Maria Skłodowska-Curie as a role model. My project aims to unravel the mechanism of how eukaryotic helicase is activated to unwind DNA during the initiation of DNA replication. This fellowship will allow me to explore this important biological question in an exciting scientific environment. And I can’t wait for all the new training and networking opportunities that will come with it.”

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