UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Professor Kenneth Harris wins European Research Council grant to explore cutting-edge research

30 March 2023

Professor Kenneth Harris (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology) has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant worth approximately €2.4 million to support his frontier research on the computation and biology of neuronal self-organisation.

professor kenneth harris

Professor Harris' research involves quantitative analysis of large-scale neuronal recordings, and theoretical models of neuronal computation. Professor Kenneth Harris says he is fascinated by how billions of neurons in the brain automatically organise themselves together into networks that intelligently control behaviour, constantly learning and adapting to changing circumstances. 

“The basic computing unit of the brain is the neuron. The cortex is made of many types of neurons, unlike the artificial neural networks used in AI which have essentially only one type. This grant will let us measure the different types of computation these neuron types perform in the living brain.” Professor Harris (Professor of Quantative Neuroscience, Department of Neuromuscular Diseases, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology)

The 2023 ERC Advanced Grants will see €544m (£477m) going to 218 leading researchers across Europe. The grants will provide researchers with the opportunity to pursue ambitious, curiosity-driven projects that could lead to major scientific breakthroughs. 

In addition to strengthening Europe's knowledge base, the grants are expected to create more than 2,000 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, and other staff at the host institutions.

Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “ERC grants are a top recognition and a significant commitment from our best researchers. The €544 million funding puts our 218 research leaders, together with their teams of postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and research staff, in pole position to push back the boundaries of our knowledge, break new ground and build foundations for future growth and prosperity in Europe.”
Maria Leptin, European Research Council President, said: "These new ERC Advanced Grantees are a testament to the outstanding quality of research carried out across Europe. I am especially pleased to see such a high number of female researchers in this competition and that they are increasingly successful in securing funding. 
“We look forward to seeing the results of the new projects in the years to come, with many likely to lead to breakthroughs and new advances.”