Dr. Uri Ben-David new winner of the ERC Starting Grant

Congratulations to our Sackler Faculty member on this achievement

02 September 2020
 Dr. Uri Ben-David new winner of the ERC Starting Grant

Uri Ben-David, Ph.D.



Senior Lecturer, Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry


Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University


Dr. Ben-David completed his B.Sc. and Ph.D. studies at the Hebrew University, where he studied stem cell biology under the supervision of Prof. Nissim Benvenisty. He then became a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, where he studied cancer genetics with Prof. Todd Golub. Throughout his training, Dr. Ben-David received numerous prestigious awards, including the Clore Doctoral Fellowship, Dan David Scholar Award, American Society of Cell Biology Kaluza Award, and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), Rothschild and Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP) Postdoctoral Fellowships.


In October 2019, Dr. Ben-David joined the faculty of Tel Aviv University, where he is a principal investigator in the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the Faculty of Medicine, and is an affiliated member of the Safra Center for Bioinformatics. Dr. Ben-David’s laboratory focuses on a fundamental, understudied trait of cancer, called aneuploidy – a change in the number of chromosomes in cancer cells. His ERC Starting Grant project will apply a variety of experimental and computational approaches to deciphering the biological processes that underlie this phenomenon, and develop novel strategies to exploit this unique trait in order to target cancer cells and eliminate tumors. The projects aims to study the processes that lead to aneuploidy in cancer, the contribution of aneuploidy to tumor formation and progression, and the cellular vulnerabilities of aneuploid cells. By uncovering the basic biology underlying this unique trait, Dr. Ben-David aspires to expand the understanding of the genetic basis of cancer, and to open new avenues for personalized cancer treatments.


Dr. Ben-David is the author of 38 peer-reviewed papers that were published in prestigious scientific journals, and his work was cited over 4,000 times. In 2018, a groundbreaking study that he led as a first author was published on the cover of the journal Nature, and in 2020 the first study that he led as a senior author was published on the cover of the journal Nature Genetics. Dr. Ben-David currently leads a group of 8 staff scientists and students. As an independent investigator, Dr. Ben-David is a recipient of the lucrative ERC Starting Grant, the Azrieli Junior Faculty Fellowship, as well as multiple additional competitive research grants. In 2020, Dr. Ben-David was awarded the ‘Next Generation Star’ Award by the American Association for Cancer Research.


Dr. Ben-David lives with his husband and five-year-old twins in Ramat-Gan, Israel.




Press release

ERC Starting Grants 2020: €677 million awarded to unravel scientific mysteries

EMBARGO UNTIL 3 September 2020 12:00 (noon) CET


What can be done to improve the efficacy of vaccines? How can we predict our future climate? What is the environmental impact of nanoplastics? Are there alternative economic models to endless economic growth? What is the nature of dark matter in the Universe? Four hundred thirty-six laureates of the 2020 European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants competition will now be able to tackle these and other big scientific questions at universities and research centres across Europe.


The funding, worth in total €677 million, will help these early-career scientists and scholars to build their own teams and conduct pioneering research across all disciplines. The grants are part of the EU’s Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020.


Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “With European Research Council grants, the EU is leveraging the talent and curiosity of some of the best young researchers in Europe. Their ideas are set to break fresh ground and open new ways to deal with pressing challenges in the areas of health, energy and digital technologies, as well as many other fields. Our ambition to effectively tackle current and future crises depends on our strong will to continuously and increasingly support top research at the frontiers of our knowledge.”


President of the European Research Council (ERC), Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, commented: ““The present health crisis showed that despite spectacular progress in research over the past decades, there still remain plenty of unsolved scientific mysteries, as well as lessons to be learnt from the past. Therefore, the best strategy to tackle it is to enable some of the brightest minds to pursue their most innovative ideas, in order to create opportunities for serendipitous discoveries. This is what the European Research Council is for. It’s clear that, if Europe is to be competitive globally, it needs to give substantial support to the next generation of researchers as these ERC Starting Grants do, and to invest much more in top blue sky research.”


The grantees are a diverse group with 40 different nationalities. Amongst the winners, 20 researchers are moving to Europe from further afield thanks to the funding. The new grantees will be based in 25 countries across Europe, with Germany (88 grants), the UK (62), the Netherlands (42) and France (38) as top locations. Some 13% of applications were selected for funding in this round.


These Starting Grants will create an estimated 2,500 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other staff at the host institutions.



-        Examples of the research selected for funding

-        Starting Grants 2020 - fact and figures

-        List of researchers selected for funding:

o   All grants

o   Grants in physical sciences and engineering

o   Grants in life sciences

o   Grants in social sciences and humanities


About the ERC


The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between their pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.

To date, the ERC has funded over 9,500 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. Key global research funding bodies, in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil and other countries, have concluded special agreements to provide their researchers with opportunities to temporarily join ERC grantees' teams.

The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. The (ad interim) ERC President is Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The overall ERC budget from 2014 to 2020 is more than €13 billion, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, for which the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel is responsible.


More information


ERC website      

Horizon 2020

Tel Aviv University makes every effort to respect copyright. If you own copyright to the content contained
here and / or the use of such content is in your opinion infringing, Contact us as soon as possible >>