Research news

Lea Rems, PhD, from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana, successful in the European Research Council’s call for proposals

Photo: Janez Kotar

Publish Date: 06.09.2023

Category: ERC & MSCA, Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 3 Good health and well-being, 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure (Indicators)

Ljubljana, 5 September 2023 – The European Commission has published the results of the call for proposals for the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant 2023. After a ten-month evaluation process, 400 projects were selected for funding from almost 2,700 applications from all over the world. Among the successful applicants is the researcher Lea Rems, PhD, who will lead the EUR 1.5 million, five-year ERC project REINCARNATION at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana (UL FE). 

The researcher Lea Rems, PhD, is the eighth recipient of an ERC Starting Grant in Slovenia. The project REINCARNATION – “Reversible and irreversible cardiac electroporation: Establishing the fundamentals to advance cardiac treatments” – was selected for funding by the ERC Panel on Biotechnology and Biosystems Engineering. This is the first ERC project in this field in Slovenia to be led by a female researcher at the beginning of her independent research career. It is also the first ERC project for UL FE, and the twelfth for the University of Ljubljana as the host institution. 

Rems focuses on acquiring the fundamental knowledge necessary for the development of therapies based on electroporation – a method in which the permeability of biological cell membranes is temporarily increased using high-voltage electrical pulses. The method has been used for three decades in Slovenia and around the world for the treatment of cancer, and in recent years it has also shown extraordinary success in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Research carried out within the ERC Starting Grant REINCARNATION project will contribute to the further development of irreversible electroporation as a new method for the non-thermal destruction of arrhythmogenic cardiac tissue in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. At the same time, the project covers research that could pave the way for the use of reversible electroporation as a non-viral method for introducing nucleic acids into heart cells for heart regeneration after a heart attack. 


The European Research Council (ERC) was set up by the European Union in 2007 as the premier European funding organisation for outstanding frontier research in all fields without predetermined priorities. It promotes the activities of already established top researchers and the development of the next generation of researchers in Europe. The criterion on which the institution selects projects and awards grants is scientific excellence. Until the launch of the Horizon Europe programme, the ERC funded over 12,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers and over 75,000 PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and other staff working in their research teams. It strives to attract the best researchers from across the globe to do their research in Europe. Through agreements with key research agencies around the world, it gives researchers the opportunity to participate in ERC research projects in Europe. The ERC is governed by an independent body, the Scientific Council, composed of 22 eminent researchers from various fields. It is currently presided over by Maria Leptin.

Slovenia continues to make good progress in ERC applications under Horizon Europe, winning at least one ERC project in each call. ERC projects are of paramount importance for researchers, allowing them creative scientific freedom and financial independence over several years. At the same time, these ambitious projects contribute to strengthening the international visibility of Slovenian science and developing the next generation of top researchers in Slovenia. 


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