Mardal awarded prestigious ERC Advanced Grant
Image of a head as part of a dissassembled puzzle.

Mardal awarded prestigious ERC Advanced Grant


Today, Professor Kent-Andre Mardal at Simula was selected for an ERC Advanced Grant following the European Research Council (ERC) announcement of 255 outstanding research leaders in Europe that were selected for funding. As one of 8 Norwegian projects selected, the project "aCleanBrain" aims to unravel enigmatic processes underlying sleep and brain diseases through computational modeling. Simula, with its extensive experience in computational physiology, is the host. Congratulations to Prof. Mardal, Chief Research Scientist and Principal investigator for this project!

Funding: European Research Council (ERC) 

Abbreviated project: aCleanBrain

Full project name: Brain Fluids - Transport and Clearance

Collaborators: University of Oslo (UiO), Oslo University Hospital (Rikshospitalet)

The brain is human’s most precious, yet mysterious organ, comprising >100 billion highly interconnected neurons, that allow us to experience the world and ourselves with astonishing acuity, pleasure and sorrow. Yet the purpose of sleep and the cause of neurodegenerative diseases are not yet understood. 

Scientific breakthroughs in neuroscience attempt to explain the need for sleep and the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in terms of fluid dynamics: the waste created during the day is cleared away as we sleep or else it accumulates. However, a decade of research after the original theory was posed has revealed that the underlying physical mechanisms are still not understood and that advanced mathematical tools are needed.

Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s present a pressing societal concern due to significant healthcare costs and lack of effective treatments. With diagnoses on the rise and no present cure, understanding brain waste clearance is critical. The holistic and interdisciplinary approaches like those that will be used in this project offer great promise in addressing the knowledge gaps that exist.

The aCleanBrain project aims to pioneer research into brain fluid dynamics, targeting three objectives: exploring new fluid dynamics mechanisms, advancing numerical analysis for multi-physics brain simulations, and creating a framework for patient-specific simulations. Utilising applied mathematics techniques (reduced order modeling, machine learning, and finite element methods), the project aims to establish the main drivers of brain fluid dynamics, develop robust algorithms, and create a software framework for biomechanical brain simulations. Its successful completion will provide an improved understanding of brain fluids in health and disease, advance the numerical analysis for multi-physics algorithms, and ambitiously enable image-based, patient-specific simulations by a leading figure in the field as Principal Investigator.

Over the last seven years, Professor Kent-Andre Mardal’s focus on brain fluids has led to the development of image-based simulation tools as well as finite elements/operator preconditioning and associated with open source scientific software such as FEniCS, positioning him uniquely to tackle key challenges in brain fluid simulations.

Congratulations again to Prof. Mardal and the research team that will collaborate on this exciting scientific endeavour over the next five years.

About ERC Advanced Grants
The ERC Advanced Grants targets established, leading researchers with a proven track record of significant achievements. The new grants selected for funding support cutting-edge research in a wide range of fields.

The funding is amongst the EU’s most prestigious and competitive, providing leading senior researchers with the opportunity to pursue ambitious, curiosity-driven projects that could lead to major scientific breakthroughs. The new grants are part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme.

More information on ERC Advanced Grants is available here.

See also