Dr. Kelvin Anggara receives the 2023 HFSP Research Grant

April 05, 2023

The International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) awards an Early Career Research Grant to Dr. Kelvin Anggara (Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research) and Prof. Rebecca L. Miller (University of Copenhagen) for their project “Decoding the Sulfation Codes in the Glycocalyx”.

Dr. Kelvin Anggara and his collaborator, Prof. Rebecca L. Miller, have been awarded 900.000 USD in funding by the HFSPO for the project “Decoding the Sulfation Codes in the Glycocalyx” over the next 3 years. The team will use genetic engineering and single molecule microscopy to determine molecular structures of long carbohydrate molecules (a.k.a. polysaccharides) found on cell surfaces.

For the 2023 competition, the HFSPO supports the top 6% of the applicants, involving 107 principal investigators in 24 countries. The 34 winning teams in the 2023 competition for research grants went through a rigorous year-long selection process in a global competition that started with 589 submitted letters of intent involving scientists with their laboratories in more than 50 different countries. This year, 9 Research Grants (Early Career) and 25 Research Grants (Program) were selected for funding.


Project Summary

Polysaccharides are essential to all living systems and life. These complex molecules enable functional movements, immune system regulation, cognitive function, and growth and development. Several polysaccharides are used in clinical medicine as vaccines against bacterial infections and as blood anticoagulants (e. g. heparins). While polysaccharides serve wide biological functions, the detailed understanding of their structures and in particular the features that direct bioactivities have remained elusive due to difficulties in determining the full structures of these molecules. Our knowledge gap in the structures of these polysaccharides has hampered transformative research and opportunities for the development of novel therapeutic applications of these important molecules.

Our project tackles this important problem by combining new technologies to produce simpler and more homogeneous polysaccharides and a method to analyze single molecules by imaging.We will focus on mammalian polysaccharides, also known as glycosaminoglycans (see Fig. 1), which are long linear polysaccharides decorated with sulfate groups that provide for many different bioactivities, including the anticoagulant activity that is vital in treatments of blood clots with the highest prevalence being in cardiovascular disease, stroke, and post-operative surgery. The technologies to be developed in this project have the potential to provide a quantum leap in the analysis of polysaccharides and their interactions with proteins. Furthermore the project will provide rich information on how to produce polysaccharides with different structures and bioactivities, which may unlock new insights into the biology of these molecules and new opportunities for use in biomedicine.


About Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP)

The Human Frontier Science Program is an international program of research support implemented by the HFSPO based in Strasbourg, France. The aim of the Program is to promote, through international cooperation, basic research focused on the elucidation of the sophisticated and complex mechanisms of living systems, for the benefit of all humankind. HFSPO receives financial support from the governments or research councils of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, as well as from the European Union. With its collaborative research grants and postdoctoral fellowships, the Program has issued over 4500 awards involving more than 7500 scientists from all over the world. Since the beginning of the Program in 1989, 28 HFSP awardees have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

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