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The immune system of vultures: candidate for the European EURYI prize

The researcher at the Institute for Agrobiotechnology Natural Resources, Jose Manuel Perez de la Lastra, has been chosen by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC) as candidate for the European EURYI prize. The project presented by Perez de la Lastra involves the study of the Molecular bases of the innate immune system of vultures.

The European EURYI prize has a total funding that lies between 750,000 and 1,250,000 euros over five years for young investigators. José Manuel Pérez de la Lastra has been, since 2001, Ramón & Cajal research fellow at Institute of Agrobiotechnology, a mixed centre linking the CSIC and the Public University of Navarre. EURYI (the European Programme of Contracts for Young Investigators) is an initiative of EUROHORC, the organisation that brings together the main research bodies of the European Union, by which 25 promising young investigators of any nationality are empowered to create their own research team in Europe and in any area of knowledge. To this end, they will each receive between 150,000 and 250,000 euros annually. José Manuel Pérez de la Lastra has been chosen by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), together with 34 other candidates who will have to pass another test at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, and from which 13 candidates from Spain will be chosen to proceed to the European-wide Call. Pioneering Research The principal criteria for selection for the EURYI Programme are the scientific quality, the originality of and the potential for the investigation. The award recipients must promote innovative research, deal with related scientific problems and show novel methodologies. Moreover, candidates must have excellent CVs and research records, with the potential of becoming world leaders in their respective fields of investigation. The project presented by Pérez de la Lastra involves the study of the Molecular bases of the innate immune system of vultures, a pioneer investigation in which this chemist from Cordoba (Spain) is currently working on. According to the author, it involves understanding how the vulture, which feeds on carrion, withstands pathogens. Apart from the interest in knowing more about the organic functioning of this protected species - hence the study is being carried out with genetic data banks and not with vultures -, this research may have applications of great interest to human medicine. Thus, if it is shown that the receptors in the vultures are better than those of humans, their use can be patented in order to create biosensor and new molecules.

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