Prof. Andrzej Dziembowski from the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, has received an ERC Advanced Grant. It is the first time that a scientist working in the field of life sciences in Poland has received such a grant. This prestigious award is given by the European Research Council (ERC) to outstanding scientists to finance their cutting-edge research. The goal of Prof. Dziembowski's project is to explore the mechanisms of mRNA processing in cells and throughout the body which will enable the development of a new generation of mRNA-based therapies. The project, with the acronym ViveRNA, will last 5 years and has a budget of almost 2.5 million euros.

mRNA vaccines were a milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. They paved the way for mRNA-based therapies and enabled their wider use in medicine. However, the processes of mRNA metabolism at the organism level are still not fully understood which limits the possibilities for improving vaccines and RNA-based therapies. For this reason, Prof. Andrzej Dziembowski and his team will thoroughly investigate how to increase mRNA stability which should enable optimization of mRNA applications in medical therapies.

- The stability of mRNA molecules is affected by the length of their poly(A) tail, which in turn has implications for the efficacy of therapeutics. The preliminary data collected by my team have shown that the variability in how poly(A) tails are processed in different cells is much greater than previously thought, says Prof. A. Dziembowski. One of our goals is to improve the accuracy of the method for determining the properties of mRNAs, including measurements of the poly(A) tail length. In our work, we will use primary cell cultures and synthetic biology methods. I believe that this research will facilitate the development of next-generation mRNA therapeutics - adds Prof. Dziembowski.

The prestigious ERC grants support groundbreaking research conducted in a wide range of fields, from physics and medicine to social sciences and humanities. ERC projects are awarded according to a "high risk-high gain" principle. The sole criterion for evaluating project ideas is scientific excellence. This year, the European Research Council awarded 218 Advanced Grants out of 1.650 applications submitted. The value of all grants awarded amounts to 544 million euro. The program is expected not only to strengthen the quality of research across Europe, but also to create new jobs for postdoctoral fellows, doctoral students and other staff at the institution where the awarded project is being carried out.

- Receiving an ERC Advanced Grant is a great achievement in the career of any scientist.
I wholeheartedly congratulate our awardee and his research team. I strongly believe in the success of the planned work, especially since research in RNA biology is currently one of the most promising and actively developed directions in the life sciences, with great potential for application in medicine. I am also pleased because this is yet another ERC grant awarded to a project carried out at our Institute, although the previous ones (ERC Starting Grants) were led by scientists at earlier stages of their careers. It is encouraging that the ERC-appointed experts from the international scientific community appreciate the importance and value of the research conducted at our Institute
- says Prof. Marta Miączyńska, the Director of the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw.

The European Research Council (ERC) was established in 2007 by the European Commission. It is an independent EU agency that funds top-quality research conducted within the European Union.

Professor Andrzej Dziembowski currently heads the Laboratory of RNA Biology – ERA Chairs Group at the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw. He also collaborates with the University of Warsaw.

Title of the awarded project: Principles of endogenous and therapeutic mRNA turnover in vivo (ViveRNA).