Dr Lea Rems is successful in a European Research Council call

Date of publication: 5.9.2023

The European Commission has today published the results of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant 2023. The call selected 400 projects for funding from almost 2700 applications from all over the world after a ten-month evaluation process. Among them is Dr Lea Rems, who will lead her 1.5 million €, five-year ERC project REINCARNATION at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana.

An outstanding achievement for Slovenian science

Dr Lea Rems is the eighth winner of the European Research Council Starting Grant 2023 in Slovenia. The project REINCARNATION - "Reversible and irreversible cardiac electroporation: Establishing the fundamentals to advance cardiac treatments" has been selected for funding by the ERC Panel on Biotechnology and Biosystems Engineering. This is the first ERC project in this field in Slovenia to be led by a female early career researcher. It is also the first ERC project for the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Ljubljana and the twelfth for the University of Ljubljana as host institution.

Developing therapies to treat the heart

Dr Lee Rems' research focuses on providing the fundamental knowledge needed to develop therapies based on electroporation - a method that temporarily increases the permeability of the membranes of biological cells using high-voltage electrical pulses. The method has been used in Slovenia and around the world for the treatment of cancer for the past three decades, and in recent years it has also shown remarkable success in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. The ERC Starting Grant project REINCARNATION covers research that will contribute to the further development of irreversible electroporation as a new method for the non-thermal destruction of arrhythmogenic cardiac tissue in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. At the same time, the project includes research that could pave the way for the use of reversible electroporation as a non-viral method to introduce nucleic acids into cardiac cells for the purpose of cardiac regeneration after heart attack.

Slovenians continue to succeed in winning ERC projects

Slovenia continues to make good progress in ERC applications under Horizon Europe, with at least one ERC project being awarded in each call. ERC projects are of paramount importance for researchers, allowing them creative scientific freedom and financial independence over several years. At the same time, these ambitious projects contribute to strengthening the international visibility of Slovenian science and developing the next generation of top researchers in Slovenia.

Doc. dr. Lea Rems (photo: Janez Kotar)

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