The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has awarded two Starting Grants to researchers Emma Hodcroft for virology and Samuel Fuhrimann for sustainable agriculture at Swiss TPH. SNSF supports outstanding young researchers in Switzerland and enables them to lead a research project with their own team.
Hodcroft returns to the University of Basel after a two-year postdoctoral period in Bern and Geneva. Hodcroft is co-developer of the “Nextstrain” program, which allows virus outbreaks to be tracked in real time. She will use Nextstrain for her SNSF project to study enteroviruses at the Swiss TPH. These endemic viruses are encountered throughout our lives in the form of the common cold, but are also responsible for many other globally occurring diseases. Using viral genetics, immunology, and modelling, Hodcroft will study how they evolve, spread, and cause disease.
"As we've seen in the pandemic, viral research isn't just theoretical - a better understanding of the viruses that surround us can help us prepare better for future outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics,” said Hodcroft. “With the Swiss TPH goal of 'science to impact', I'm excited that my research on enteroviruses will help feed directly into better diagnostics, prevention, and preparation."
"Dr. Emma Hodcroft's research programme will generate important information on the evolution and genomic epidemiology of endemic viruses,” said Sebastien Gagneux, Head of the Department of Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology at Swiss TPH. “Together with Dr. Katharina Röltgen's work on the immunology of SARS-CoV-2, which was recently funded through an SNSF PRIMA grant, Dr. Hodcroft's group will further strengthen Swiss TPH's expertise in virology."
Fuhrimann received his PhD from the University of Basel in 2015. After working as a postdoc in South Africa and the Netherlands, he will conduct his SNSF-project at Swiss TPH. His goal is to characterize the pesticide exposome and related health risks as well as benefits of living and working on a farm.
“The SNSF Starting Grant will give me the opportunity to develop my research group around agricultural health at Swiss TPH,” said Fuhrimann. “My overarching goal is to characterise the pesticide exposome and related health risks and benefits of living and working on a farm. The research will ultimately generate evidence of health and well-being impacts of the transition to sustainable agriculture in Switzerland and globally.”
“The grant of Dr. Samuel Fuhrimann is of great relevance for developing a strong research agenda in the domain of agricultural health,” said Nicole Probst-Hensch, Head of Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Swiss TPH. “The relevance of a productive and healthy agriculture and associated workforce for sustainable food systems is evidenced by the current war in the Ukraine and by climate change.”
SNSF Starting Grants
With the Starting Grants, the SNSF supports outstanding young researchers in Switzerland and enables them to lead a research project with their own team. Grantees at the pre-professorial stage of their careers will receive an appointment as assistant professor.
As Switzerland is currently a non-associated third country in the European research and innovation program Horizon Europe, the Swiss government has asked SNSF to launch a call for SNSF Starting Grants 2023. They will cover the ERC Starting Grants as a transitional measure as well as replace the SNSF Eccellenza scheme.