Two CIBM research scientists have been awarded the prestigious Swiss National Science Foundation Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship.

Ileana Jelescu

Ileana Jelescu

CIBM MRI EPFL AIT research staff scientist 

Jessica Bastiaansen

Jessica Bastiaansen

CIBM MRI CHUV-UNIL affiliate member

Both researchers aspire to a permanent professorship and the SNSF grants allow them to continue their research activities as assistant professors and start their independent research group.

This is a very prestigious fellowship, aimed at jump-starting professor careers. SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowships are aimed at highly qualified researchers who aspire to a permanent professorship. Eccellenza supports them in achieving their goal by allowing them to lead a generously funded research project as an assistant professor at a Swiss higher education institution. Eccellenza covers the grantee’s salary and project funds of up to 1,000,000 Swiss francs for a five-year period to be used, for example, for hiring PhD students, postdocs and paying for research expenses. The new status also makes the researchers eligible for additional funding schemes. The host institution provides lab space and administrative support.

CIBM Executive Director Pina Marziliano said, “CIBM is truly providing a nurturing environment for the next leaders in biomedical imaging research. CIBM Scientific Steering Committee members convey their heartiest congratulations and look forward to future  collaborations.”

On hearing confirmation of the Eccellenza Professorial Fellowships by post, Ileana Jelescu said, “It is a game-changer. It means I can start my own research group at the Swiss Institution best suited for the project, independently from current faculty openings. This will hopefully also foster new collaborations and attract good candidates to fill  the open PhD and postdoc positions. For the CIBM, it is a great reflection of the success of its alumni and also potential for growing the network of members and researchers.”

Jessica Bastiannansen explained more about her research saying, “I am proposing to develop a novel imaging technology that will tackle current challenges at both low field and high field MRI. This approach will lead to artifact-free qualitative images that are robust to motion, and simultaneously provide quantitative information on subvoxel tissue properties. I filed a patent on this idea a year ago and my grant proposal builds on this. Besides the development of this new imaging technology, we will ultimately apply this in patients suffering from cardiovascular and liver diseases and hopefully replace the need for conducting invasive biopsies.”

Confirmation of the award from the SNSF to each of the researchers is an important recognition of their work to date and the promising career path, as well as an appreciation of women in STEM. Competition was tough. Both researchers applied in the STEM division of the Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship, where there were a total of 88 submissions this year across all Swiss institutions. A selection of 33 researchers were invited for an interview and 16 eventually received the grant.

Some of the criteria include research contributing to an important and innovative project at the interface between scientific and clinical disciplines, with potential for real technological breakthrough.

In the case of Ileana Jelescu, the key research was “transforming an MRI device into a non-invasive in vivo microscope thanks to diffusion MRI, but also revolutionizing the functional exploration of the human brain.”

Additional criteria satisfied by both researchers included a scientist with excellent  career and research achievements, showing a high level of scientific independence, innovative thinking and a remarkable ability to connect with researchers of different backgrounds; and an environment that is well suited to its successful completion.

More information on the official list of awardees on the SNSF website here.

Ileana Jelescu:

Jessica Bastiaansen –

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