6. September 2023 | Press releases:

Using microchips to better understand diseases like schizophrenia TU Braunschweig: Dr Thomas Winkler receives ERC Starting Grant

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the recipients of its prestigious Starting Grants. Among them is a researcher from the Technical University of Braunschweig: Dr. Thomas Winkler will receive €1.5 million for his research on modular organ-on-chip technology to better understand neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.

The ERC grants support top young researchers across Europe – from medicine and physics to social sciences and humanities. A total of 2,696 applications were submitted this year, of which 400 were successful. One of the funded researchers is Dr Thomas Winkler from the Institute of Microtechnology at the TU Braunschweig. His research aims to use microsystems tools to solve challenges in the life sciences – from organs to labs-on-chips.

In the project funded by the ERC Starting Grant, Dr Winkler and his team are working on a modular organ-on-chip technology to better understand the role of cellular interactions between blood vessels and the nervous system in schizophrenia.

“I am delighted that the ERC has decided to invest in these pioneering lines of research,” says Dr Thomas Winkler. “Feedback control of in vitro cell culture models made possible by microtechnology is an important step towards more reproducible biological research that is relevant to humans and less dependent on animal models. And our first planned application in the field of otherwise often neglected neuropsychiatric disorders has the potential to decipher the role of oxidative stress in schizophrenia and thereby also provide new therapeutic impulses. Overall, the Starting Grant is a great opportunity for me and my team to spend the next five years doing research at the interface of technology and biology, which has always been very exciting for me.”

Dr Winkler’s research group is part of the Centre for Pharmaceutical Process Engineering (PVZ) at TU Braunschweig. Here, experts from the fields of pharmacy, process engineering and microtechnology work together on a long-term basis – in a model that is unique in Germany to date – to develop cost-effective, effective and personalised medicines based on new technologies and methods.

More information: https://lab.winkler.site

About the ERC Starting Grants

The grants are part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and are invested in scientific projects across all research disciplines. They are designed to help early-stage researchers start their own projects, build teams and pursue their best ideas. Researchers of all nationalities with two to seven years of experience since obtaining their doctorate, a promising scientific track record and an outstanding research proposal are eligible to apply.