ERC awards €2.22 million to Yves Van de Peer for his innovative Advanced Grant proposal DOUBLE-UP

27 June 2013

​Yves Van de Peer: ”This exceptional grant will allow me to think out of the box (ERC projects have to be high risk-high gain) and explore less obvious ways of addressing major questions in evolutionary biology, such as by using principles of evolutionary robotics to gain insight into the evolution of real biological organisms.  In turn, the novel biological principles we infer from studying gene and genome duplication could then be used to develop better robots and robotic organisms.”

The project for which Yves Van de Peer received the grant is called DOUBLE UP and will investigate the importance of whole genome duplications for evolution. Its ultimate goal is to explain how organisms – through the evolution of their duplicated genomes – have been able to diversify, compete for niches, and survive ecological turmoil. The ERC-funded project will also tackle the challenge of predicting future species evolution and explain emergent behavior using evolutionary robotics.  

18 ERC grants for VIB

The European Research Council (ERC) was created at the start of the current FP7 framework programme (2007-2012) to fund highly challenging projects, whether in terms of their envisaged scientific goals or in terms of the creativity and originality of the proposed approaches. There are three levels of ERC grants: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants. 
Yves Van de Peer applied for an Advanced Grant. To qualify, a scientist has to be able to prove exceptional leadership and a solid track record of significant research achievements over at least 10 years.  To leverage their impact, individual ERC grants provide considerable amounts of money, up to €2,5million for an Advanced Grant, for example. With a budget like that, researchers can embark on a dream project that would otherwise remain out of reach.  
Yves’ grant brings VIB’s total number of ERC grants to 18. This means that nearly 1 in 4 VIB group leaders (76) have had their excellence acknowledged by ERC – further proof that VIB is in the top league of European research institutes. 
Since ERC’s inception in 2007, more than 3,400 projects have been selected for funding from over 32,000 applications, with a total number of about 5,000 grants (all levels) to be awarded by the end of the current framework program. The total ERC budget for FP7 is €7.5 billion.  For the next framework program, Horizon2020 (2014-2020), the Commission proposes to raise the ERC budget to €11.6 billion (54% increase), given that the program has been so successful. Unfortunately, budget negotiations are still ongoing and no final figures have as  yet been released.  

Yves Van de Peer - (c) VIB