MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit


European Research Council Consolidator Grant awarded to Pleasantine Mill

€600 million has been awarded between 301 of Europe’s top scientists, including support for the CiliaCircuits project: December 2019

Dr Pleasantine Mill
Dr Pleasantine Mill

On 10 December 2019 the European Research Council announced the winners of its latest Consolidator Grant competition - 301 top scientists and scholars across Europe. Funding for these researchers, part of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, is worth in total €600 million. With this support, the new grantees will have a chance to build up their teams and have far-reaching impact.

Congratulations to Dr Pleasantine Mill of the MRC Human Genetics Unit who has been awarded a Consolidator Grant for CiliaCircuits – a project examining the molecular principles of mammalian axonemal dynein assembly.

Motile cilia are tiny microtubule-based projections which create fluid flow and are essential to human health. Cilia movement is powered by coordinated action of complex macromolecular motors, the axonemal dyneins. During differentiation, as cells produce hundreds of motile cilia, millions of dynein subunits must be pre-assembled in the cytoplasm into very large complexes in the correct stoichiometry which are then trafficked into growing cilia.  

The molecular logic underlying the construction of motile cilia assembly is still not fully understood. The ambition of CiliaCircuits is to use super-resolution and systems approaches to elucidate key mechanisms regulating this process in healt

h and disease. Human genetics tells us that making cilia motile is a complex process. To date, almost 45 genes have been implicated in primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), the disease of motile cilia, for which there is no cure. The long-term vision is to understand this dynamic control operating over a specialized proteome in time and space in order to develop effective PCD therapeutics and identify additional candidate genes involved in this translation regulation.

The ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers of any nationality and age, with at least seven and up to twelve years of experience after PhD, and a scientific track record showing great promise. Research must be conducted in a public or private research organisation located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries. The funding (average of €2 million per grant), is provided for up to five years and mostly covers the employment of researchers and other staff to consolidate the grantees' teams.