Dr Tiago Branco Receives Five Years of ERC Funding

11 December 2019

Dr Tiago Branco is one of three UCL researchers to be awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant for his work on how animals escape and find shelter when they are under threat.

Tiago is one of 301 scientists across Europe and 50 in the UK who has received a grant as part of the ERC’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, which is worth a total of €600 million. The ERC received 2,453 grant proposals during this funding round.

Tiago will use his grant to look at how brain circuits map the location of safe places in an animal’s surroundings, and how that knowledge is turned into an action that allows the animal to escape threats. For instance if a mouse knows there is a good hiding place around a corner, its brain must tell its muscles to start moving, when to turn and when to stop—and do so quickly in the face of a threat.

Tiago Branco

Dr Tiago Branco

While the Branco Lab is looking specifically at escape behaviour, the brain’s ability to turn knowledge into action is a process that happens many times a day in humans. Whether you’re reaching for your coffee, running to catch a bus or finding your way to a meeting place, your brain is translating information about the environment into instructions for your body in order to achieve a goal.

Speaking on the receipt of his award, Tiago said “It is a privilege to receive this generous funding from the ERC, which will allow our team to tackle bold questions in neuroscience. We’re especially grateful that the funding covers a five-year term. Long-term funding allows flexibility and creativity, which are necessary for pursuing big questions.”

Tiago is joined by Dr Valentina Arena and Dr Jean-Baptiste Pingault as UCL’s recipients of the ERC Consolidator Grant. They are studying Roman history and mental health, respectively. For more information on their work and the EU Consolidator Grant visit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2019/dec/three-ucl-academics-awarded-erc-consolidator-grants