The ERC “starting grants” are some of the most prominent early-career funding programs and are highly sought-after by researchers in the European Union, offering up to €1.5 million over five years. The grant promotes innovative initiatives that have the potential to have a significant impact on the research sector.

A new class of RNAs with a distinctive closed-loop structure is the basis of Dr Kowalski’s project called ‘Circle’, aiming to clarify the therapeutic potential of this new class of RNAs, called circular RNAs. CIRCLE expands on Dr. Kowalski’s work at UCC, which was supported by the Irish Health Research Board (HRB) Emerging Investigator Award, focusing on examining innovative RNA-based medications for sepsis treatment, such as short-interfering RNAs and messenger RNAs. Sepsis is a potentially fatal organ malfunction brought on by an infection, which has been a significant challenge for drug development.

“I am thrilled for the support from the European Research Council allowing me to pursue transformative and impactful research tackling unmet health challenges. Circular RNAs have the potential to address the limitations of the current RNA drugs in the disease context and open new therapeutic avenues. CIRCLE will address a significant gap in the knowledge on the utility of circular RNAs for translational research and will help realize their therapeutic potential. My ambition with this project is to help reshape the future of RNA therapies which I believe could be circular.”

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