31 Mar 2020   |   Network Updates   |   Update from Trinity College Dublin
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Trinity professor wins second prestigious ERC Advanced Grant


Professor of population genetics at Trinity College Dublin, Dan Bradley, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant — the second of these highly prestigious awards he has secured.

He will use the grant to pursue ground-breaking inter-disciplinary research in the field of ancient epigenetics that will help write new chapters of ancient human history.

The Advanced Grants are the most competitive of the ERC awards, so this latest success underlines the significance of Professor Bradley’s work and the impacts he and his team are making.

The grant will support project AncestralWeave, which will see Professor Bradley lead a detailed investigation into the ancient genomes of cattle, sheep and goat, with the goal of better understanding when and where selective breeding, agricultural practices and periods of ancient human innovation shaped the breeds.

The work will also underline how and why problematic mutations that threaten livestock today built up over generations. Collectively, the research will help to piece together important moments in ancient human history that are currently hidden from us.

On receiving the award, Professor Dan Bradley said:

Ancient farmers and their animals went through different cycles of gene-economy evolution that profoundly changed human society. This project hopes to untangle these threads of innovation, tracing the weave of genetic ancestry in cattle, sheep and goats using ancient genomics.

Congratulating Professor Bradley on his success, Trinity’s Dean of Research, Professor Linda Doyle said:

We are extremely proud of Professor Bradley’s achievement and warmly congratulate him on what represents further recognition of the outstanding, creative, impactful work he is leading. ERC Advanced Grants are only awarded to the most exceptional researchers and give them the freedom to work on their best and most creative ideas for the benefit of science and society.

Professor Bradley’s work has helped pen many new, detailed, and often surprising and fascinating chapters of ancient human history, and this award will support the continuation of that work. It is nothing short of incredible that he has been able to use DNA that is many thousands of years old to shine a light on who we were and where we came from.

This latest award not only recognises the ongoing importance of this inter-disciplinary research, which uses the latest genetics techniques to feed into archaeological and historical study, but also builds on Trinity’s strong track record of ERC success, which has become a point of reference for excellent frontier research across all disciplines.

Through the EU research funding programmes FP7 (2007-2013) and Horizon2020 (2014-2020) Trinity researchers have now been awarded 46 ERC Investigator grants, representing €82m in funding. Under H2020 these ERC Investigator grants have created 180 positions for Postdoctoral Researchers, PhD students and other staff working on the research teams in Trinity.

Teams supported by ERC funding work across all three domains of the ERC programme (life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences and humanities), further underlining the breadth of high-quality research in Trinity. This is the eighth ERC award to a member of Trinity’s School of Genetics and Microbiology.

Trinity College Dublin is the leading Irish institution for overall drawdown from the H2020 programme, of which there are many different strands in addition to the ERC. Trinity hosts approximately 50% of all H2020 ERC awards in Ireland.

This article was first published on 31 March by Trinity College Dublin.

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