Ilana Gabanyi has been an Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência member since May 2023. She arrived to create and lead the research group on Neuronal Responses to Bacterial Signals – Neurobiota focused on studying the interactions between the microbial community of the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system, known as the microbiota-gut-brain axis. A field of research with enormous relevance and rapidly growing. She was awarded the EMBO Installation Grant, an initiative supporting promising research leaders across various biological processes.
Ilana’s project addresses in a multidisciplinary way how physiological factors determined by sex and age influence the communication mechanisms of the “intestinal flora” (microbiota) with the brain’s neurons. With this project, Ilana and her team want to understand the basis of communication in the gut-brain axis and contribute to new therapeutic approaches to neurological diseases with different prevalence by sex and age, in which the microbiota is a susceptibility factor, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Upon receiving this distinction, Ilana reinforces that it is “further proof of the relevance of understanding the biological differences between the sexes to provide more appropriate treatments. Even more, joining the EMBO network is an extraordinary opportunity for all its support, which will help me progress as a scientist.”
EMBO Director Fiona Watt says, “We are delighted that these exceptional scientists are supported by EMBO. We promote excellence in life sciences in all parts of Europe and beyond and look forward to contributions from new grantees. Their research will strengthen the life sciences in their respective countries and enrich our broader scientific community.”
Through EMBO, the project “Sex and age specificities influencing the gut-brain axis communication” will receive support of 50,000 euros for three to five years. Recipients also have access to additional grants of up to 10,000 euros per year and travel grants. Integrated into the EMBO Young Investigator Network, they benefit from numerous networking opportunities, training in leadership in research and management, and access to the main EMBL facilities in Heidelberg.