Scientist Awarded Competitive European Research Grant

The ERC grant will boost research on the effect of pollen on health (Photo: Jana

The ERC grant will boost research on the effect of pollen on health (Photo: Jana Soenksen/Swiss TPH)

Marloes Eeftens, Senior Scientist at Swiss TPH, was awarded the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. The highly competitive grant supports 408 early-career researchers to build their own teams and conduct pioneering research. Eeftens’ research focuses on the effect of pollen on cardiorespiratory health and allergies.

Airborne pollen allergies are increasing across Europe due to climate change. Marloes Eeftens’ research looks at the effect of pollen exposure on mortality, hospitalisation and allergic symptoms. The ERC Starting Grant worth EUR 1.5 million will support the creation of spatiotemporal exposure models and the development of an app-based tool to forecast allergic symptoms.

"Pollen allergy is a major health issue for 20 percent of the population, but seasonal suffering is often dismissed as ’not being so serious’. While affected people have become used to seasonal sneezing and eye scratching, it is urgent that we further study the more severe impact of pollen on health," said Marloes Eeftens, Senior Scientific Collaborator in the Environmental Exposures and Health unit at Swiss TPH. "The ERC Starting Grant will help my team to do so as well as to help put in place preventive public health measures."

Marloes Eeftens completed her PhD in environmental epidemiology in the Netherlands focussing on air pollution and lung function in children. She came to Switzerland six years ago, and has worked on a variety of environment and health topics including air pollution, electromagnetic fields, noise and pollen.

About the ERC Starting Grant

Eeftens is the first Swiss TPH researcher to receive the highly coveted ERC Starting Grant. In total, 408 early-career researchers have been awarded European Research Council grants in this year’s first completed ERC call for proposals. The competitive funding will help individual scientists and scholars to build their own teams and conduct pioneering research across all disciplines. The grants, worth in total EUR 621 million, are part of the EU’s Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020.