Prestigious research fund for two USI researchers


Institutional Communication Service

21 November 2022

Dr Arianna Baggiolini, research director of the "Stem Cells and Cancer" laboratory at the USI-affiliated Institute of Oncology Research (IOR), and Professor Michael Multerer of the Euler Institute (EUL), USI Faculty of Informatics, have been awarded two Starting Grants 2022 from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) totalling 3,165,000 CHF.

The SNSF Starting Grants are intended for researchers who have applied for an ERC 2022 Fellowship or an Excellence Professorial Fellowship. 

Recipients of this award will have the opportunity to lead an independent research project and direct a team of researchers in Switzerland. The fellowship is awarded to promising researchers who have already established scientific independence to consolidate their academic position and build their teams.

The research "Oncogenic Competence at the Cellular and Multicellular Level in Melanoma," led by group leader Arianna Baggiolini of the USI-affiliated Institute of Oncology Research (IOR), focuses on the study of melanoma, the most aggressive and dangerous skin cancer because of its highly metastatic characteristics. "We study the mechanisms that regulate the transformation of a melanocyte, the melanin-producing cell in our skin, into a cancer cell and that determine its invasive and adaptive abilities in the organ where it has created metastasis," explains Baggiolini.

As for the concrete implications of this study, Baggiolini continues, "some DNA mutations are tumorigenic only in certain cellular contexts, a phenomenon called 'oncogenic competence.' melanoma, for example, relies on such a process. Cells "competent" to give rise to melanoma express genes that are not normally expressed by normal melanocytes. Our research is aimed at regulating such 'competence'."

This is a study with both prevention and treatment vocation, "understanding the mechanisms that regulate 'oncogenic competence,'" she says, "will allow us to propose new approaches to prevent cancer formation or treat an already formed cancerous lesion."

"It is thrilling to know that the Swiss National Science Foundation endorses the significance of the research we conduct!" concludes Dr Baggiolini. "These funds will allow us to perform our research to its full potential and make a difference in melanoma research."

Professor Michael Multerer's study, entitled Multiresolution methods for unstructured data, focuses on unstructured data that is now rapidly increasing and omnipresent in our daily lives. Typical examples are data from social networks, text and audio data, photos and videos, scientific measurements and simulation data.

"Efficient processing and analysis of these data have become vital for our society", explains Michael Multerer, professor at the Euler Institute (EUL) of USI Faculty of Informatics. "In Multiresolution methods for unstructured data, we develop novel and fully discrete data-centric multiresolution approaches tailored to unstructured data, focusing on efficient algorithms for computational uncertainty quantification and adaptive strategies for active learning and non-smooth data. I am honoured by the trust and the opportunity given by the Swiss National Science Foundation to conduct this research. I am confident that the project will be the starting point for many future research endeavours and that it will strengthen the position of USI as a research institution."