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July 10, 2020

The Early Career Research Award – ECRA is an annual prize launched by the ITQB/iBET Post-Doctoral Association (PdA), and aims to distinguish the best R&D proposal featuring frontier research between two distinct but complementary research areas. With this, the ECRA Prize aims to develop the collaborations, promote active engagement of PdA members and foster disruptive innovation.

The ECRA prize 2019/2020, was attributed to the project proposal submitted by Ana Filipa Rodrigues and Sandra Viegas entitled “LentiSloop: Synthetic 5’UTR mRNA-stabilizing-elements to optimize lentiviral vector production for human gene therapy“.

This project aims at applying synthetic biology tools to enhance the production of lentiviral vector for gene therapy. Additionally, it will investigate the contribution of RNA degradation metabolism to the productivity performance of current production hosts, opening new and unexplored possibilities to debottleneck lentiviral vector production.

Thus, this project will contribute to improve the yields and quality of lentiviral vector preparations while reducing production costs, helping to bring lentivirus-based gene therapy to more patients worldwide. 

Submitted proposals were evaluated by a panel of internal researchers, from ITQB and/or iBET, chaired by Prof. Maria Arménia Carrondo. In this edition, the ECRA prize consisted of a 10 000€ money prize to help supporting a proof-of-concept for the future research project. The award ceremony was held at ITQB NOVA Online Day on 10th July 2020.

Ana Filipa Rodrigues and Sandra Silva receiving the ECRA Prize 2019/2020 on gene therapy
Ana Filipa Rodrigues and Sandra Silva receiving the ECRA Prize 2019/2020
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