Aitziber López-Cortajarena Gets an ERC Consolidator Grant
SBE member Aitziber López-Cortajarena, from the “Instituto IMDEA Nanociencia”, Madrid (Spain) has won a 2014 ERC Consolidator Grant.
Dr. López-Cortajarena is among the 33 Spanish Scientists awarded in the latest ERC Consolidator Grant competition (2014 call). A a total of 372 researchers from 38 differen nationalities are being funded.
Grants are worth up to €2.75 million each and will enable grantees to consolidate their research teams and to develop their most innovative ideas.
Dr. Aitziber L. Cortajarena earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Universidad del País Vasco in 2002, working with Dr. Helena Ostolaza and Dr. Félix M. Goñi. She then joined the group of Dr. L. Regan at Yale University, USA, as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Research Scientist, working on protein design, structure, and function. In January 2010, she joined “IMDEA Nanociencia” as Group Leader. Her research focuses on protein engineering toward the generation of biofunctional nanostructures and bioinspired materials for applications in nano-biotechnology and nanomedicine.
The funded project, ProNANO is to develop a modular versatile platform for the fabrication of multiple protein-based hybrid functional nanostructures for their use in different applications including molecular electronics, optical plasmonics, bioorganic catalysis, and photoactive systems among others.
The precise synthesis of nano-devices with tailored complex structures and properties is a requisite for their use in nanotechnology and medicine. Nowadays, the technology for the generation of these devices lacks the precision to determine their properties, and is accomplished mostly by “trial and error”. Our project proposes using self-assembling protein building blocks as templates for nanofabrication (Dr. López-Cortajarena tells us).
In nature, protein assemblies govern sophisticated structures and functions, which are inspiration to engineer novel assemblies by exploiting the same set of tools and interactions to create nanostructures with numerous potential applications in synthetic biology and nanotechnology. Dr. Aitziber L. Cortajarena will design a collection of protein-based nanostructures and then introduce reactive functionalities to create hybrid entities with nanoparticles, metals and electro-active molecules. Finally, these conjugates will be used to build nano-devices such as nanocircuits, catalysts and electroactive materials.