Ángel Goñi-Moreno, CBGP (UPM-INIA/CSIC) researcher, receives a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC)

Ángel Goñi-Moreno, researcher from the Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP, UPM-INIA/CSIC), receives this European grant for the ECCO project, which seeks to program bacteria for use as bioremediation agents.


The European Research Council (ERC) has announced today the awarded list of its Consolidator Grants (CoG) 2021 call. The funding, worth a total of 632 million €, will enable 313 European scientists to continue their innovative research.

More than two million euros (2.1 mill. €) is the funding that the (CBGP, UPM/INIA-CSIC) researcher Ángel Goñi-Moreno has obtained for his project Evolutionary Cellular Computing for Environmental Synthetic Biology (ECCO), framed in the evaluation panel PE6 - Computing and Informatics Sciences.

ECCO focuses on programming bacteria for use as bioremediation agents, that is, this project will use synthetic biology to offer solutions in scenarios of environmental degradation. To do this, Ángel Goñi's team will design new genetic and metabolic networks that provide cells with mechanisms to process environmental information and act based on predefined instructions encoded in their DNA. The programmed bacteria - authentic cellular computers - will have new abilities, such as detecting contaminating substances and executing genetic control programs that not only remedy environmental damage, but also record this information in their memory and anticipate future scenarios. The key to project development will be dealing with evolution, to ensure that genetic programs are robust over time and under changing conditions. This project will use synthetic biology to offer solutions in scenarios of environmental degradation.

Dr. Goñi-Moreno indicated that “This funding will help my line of research, biocomputing, to be considered a priority area at European level. The interdisciplinarity that this project requires, reflected in my laboratory, enables communication between disciplines outside their usual field, key to analyzing complex problems and offering innovative solutions. Personally, having achieved the ERC CoG is a strong support to stabilize my employment situation and my lines of research, stop thinking about the short term and start designing more powerful research in the medium and long term.

From Talent Attraction to ERC CoG

Ángel Goñi-Moreno is a researcher at the Center for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP, UPM-INIA/CSIC), a joint center between UPM and INIA-CSIC, one of the Severo Ochoa Centers of Excellence in the country. Ángel has a Modality 1 Atracción de Talento (Talent Attraction) contract from the Community of Madrid, which allowed him to join the CBGP (UPM-INIA/CSIC) in September 2020 within the framework of the new Computational Biology and Biosystems and Genomics Program (CsBGP) initiated with the help of the Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence. Ángel is currently integrated into the new area of Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering (SynBIO2) of the CBGP (UPM-INIA/CSIC). He was previously Principal Investigator and Professor at the University of Newcastle, in the United Kingdom (2016-2020). Ángel has a PhD in Computer Engineering (UPM) and gained experience in synthetic biology, systems biology and biophysics during his postdoctoral stays at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom (2010-2013) and at the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB) of the CSIC (2013-2016). His interdisciplinary profile between computer science, engineering and biology gives a unique character to his scientific activity. He was awarded the First Grant Award from the EPSRC (United Kingdom, 2017), and he is currently leading several research projects (AEI Spanish National Plan and CAM Synergy, started in 2021). With a regular presence at seminars, congresses and thematic meetings on biocomputing, this ERC CoG project consolidates Ángel as an international benchmark in the field.

The CoGs and the ERC

The European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grants support researchers who want to consolidate their independence by creating a research team or strengthening their current research team and continue to build a successful career in Europe. The candidates must demonstrate the innovative character, the ambition and the feasibility of their scientific proposal, being able to request up to 2 million € for a period of 5 years and having their projects hosted in EU institutions or associated countries. The European Research Council (ERC), created by the European Union in 2007, is the main European organization for financing excellent research on the frontiers of knowledge, representing 17% of the general budget in the current Framework Programme, Horizon Europe.