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Prof. Dr. Matej Praprotnik received the 2019 ERC Advanced Grant

The research project 'MULTraSonicA' will be hosted by the National Institute of Chemistry

 

Ljubljana, March 31, 2020 - The results of the tender of the European Research Council (ERC) for ERC Advanced Grant 2019 are now known. The project application of the top Slovenian scientist Prof. Dr. Matej Praprotnik, a researcher at the National Institute of Chemistry, is one of those selected.

The new ERC project entitled 'Multiscale modeling and simulation approaches for biomedical ultrasonic applications' with an acronym 'MULTraSonicA' aims to design a virtual research environment to assist medical applications of ultrasound-guided drug and gene delivery and imaging. The proposal focus are the encapsulated microbubbles and gas vesicles with submicron size that are used as ultrasound contrast agents and can also act as drug carriers. Detailed knowledge of their physical properties is essential in ultrasound-mediated therapeutic applications, which are driven by combined effects of ultrasound and contrast agents in cavitation and sonoporation. Today, our understanding and quantification of these processes is limited. State-of-the-art continuum models of the contrast agents cannot incorporate the critical details such as varying thickness of the encapsulating shell. Furthermore, they do not allow for simulations of several contrast agents that interact at a submicron/mesoscopic level. This represents a severe limitation since the contrast agents’ dynamic interaction with the direct environment substantially modifies their cavitation behavior and in turn the outcome of drug delivery.

The goal of this research project is to develop new, data-informed mesoscopic models of ultrasound contrast agents to accurately model their rheological and acoustic behavior that critically affects the technology of ultrasound-guided drug and gene delivery. The proposed models of contrast agents, together with the proposed multiscale methods, will result in a flexible virtual research environment allowing for computational studies that will provide the optimal experimental range of ultrasound parameters such as intensities, frequencies, beam collimation, and duration of ultrasound exposure for biomedical applications. The potential applications of the proposed virtual research environment are in assisting and advancing therapeutic applications of ultrasound-guided drug and gene delivery and imaging in the treatment of various diseases, e.g., cancers, inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular diseases such as thrombosis, stroke and myocardial infarction.

Graphical illustration of ERC project MULTraSonicA

 

Considering that the European Research Council (ERC) selected only a  8,9 % of the 1880 submitted project applications by outstanding researchers for financing their research projects, this shows just how significant the achievement of the Slovenian researcher is.

This year's ERC project is the fifth for the National Institute of Chemistry. We now have 3 ERC Advanced Grant projects, 1 ERC Starting Grant project and 1 ERC Proof of Concept project.

Prof. dr. Matej Praprotnik  heads the Theory Department at the National Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana. He is also a full professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana. His research is focused on computer simulation of soft and biological matter. The focus is on developing and combining innovative computational and theoretical methods as well as their application to study complex molecular systems. He studied physics and received his BS degree and PhD from University of Ljubljana. He carried out postdoctoral research in the Theory group at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany. Matej has held visiting scientist positions at the Computational Science & Engineering Laboratory (ETH Zurich), Institute for Mathematics and Its Applications (University of Minnesota), The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (University of California, Santa Barbara), and Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics China (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing). He served as president of the Slovenian Biophysical Society from 2015 to 2019. He also serves as chair of the PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) Scientific Steering Committee, as a council member of CECAM (Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire), as a scientific council member of the National Institute of Chemistry, and as an editorial board member for Scientific Reports (Nature Research) and Polymers (MDPI).
 

Please find the details: erc.europa.eu/news/erc-2019-advanced-grants-results


 

ERC Press Release: European Research Council Press Release

 

For further information please contact:

Nataša Jager Radin, natasa.jager.radin[at]ki.si, 01 476 04 78

Brigita Pirc, brigita.pirc[at]ki.si, 01 476 02 25

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