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UCy autism researcher secures European funding


Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cyprus (UCy), Dr Michael Lombardo, has secured €1.5 million in European funding for his research on autism.
According to an announcement from UCy, the European Research Council (ERC) awarded Lombardo the five-year grant for his research on ‘Decomposing Heterogeneity in Autism Spectrum Disorders (AUTISMS)’.
Lombardo’s research will focus on autism and multiple subtypes of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
“By enhancing the accuracy of how we understand the multiple subtypes of ASD, this research will contribute to more personalised medical follow-up of patients, as well as to reducing the pressure exerted due to ASD on individuals, families, and the wider society,” the statement said.
It added that ASD affects one to two per cent of the population and that this is an important issue for public health. There is need, it said, to begin to characterise multiple types of ‘autism’ among the population.
“A better understanding of how heterogeneity occurs in different types of ASD patients leads to more accurate understanding and more personalised treatment of patients,” it said.
“It is particularly honorary that the European Union provides me with this funding and the opportunity to go ahead with the development of my research, which I hope will lead to important findings that could help both autistic patients and their families,” Lombardo said.
Rector of the UCy, Constantinos Christofides, said that the funding is a great success both for the university and Cyprus. He said that the funding will allow the university to create new job positions for young researchers.
“The research of Dr Lombardo is living proof that research and its results can actually and practically help our society and specific groups of people,” he said.
He added that of the 15 ERC research grants that went to Cyprus, 11 were secured by the UCy.
The European Research Council grants are considered to be the most competitive in Europe as high evaluation criteria are set each year, and as a result, only eight to nine per cent of the proposals submitted by all European countries are selected for funding.
The University of Cyprus has secured most of the European Research Council programmes given in Cyprus and Greece, it said.

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