Sphingolipids are unusually versatile biomolecules, serving essential roles as structural components of cellular membranes and as signaling molecules that participate in a wide range of physiological and pathological processes. The need for precise regulation of sphingolipids is acute, with imbalances contributing to neurodegenerative disorders, metabolic diseases and drug resistance in cancer.

Key to defining proper sites for therapeutic intervention is a comprehensive understanding of the complex, largely unknown mechanisms of sphingolipid homeostasis and how sphingolipid signaling pathways are interconnected. SPHINGONET aims to address these challenges by transferring the complementary expertise of its partners to a new generation of scientists and entrepreneurs who will take a leading role in unraveling the full regulatory potential of the body-wide sphingolipid signaling network and maximize its therapeutic use.

SPHINGONET unites eight academic partners at the forefront of medical, chemical and systems biology with two (pro)-drug discovery-oriented SMEs from five different countries (NL, DE, UK, IL, CH). The consortium offers ten Early Stage Researchers (PhD candidates) and two Experienced Researchers (post-docs) a research-oriented training program devoted to an emerging field in the molecular life sciences with ample clinical implications and important opportunities for developing ground-breaking technologies, entrepreneurship and complementary education adapted to the personal needs.

Watch the Sphingonet video to learn more about our research goals.

Main Objectives

  • Creation of an optimal environment for highly original and innovative research.
  • Education of a future generation of visionary scientists and entrepreneurs, capable of developing their own strong programs in Europe’s academia, industry or other vital sectors.
  • In-depth co-ordination of post-genomic platforms, including high-throughput microscopy screening, genetic interaction maps, lipidomics and proteomics.
  • Development of enabling technologies and novel experimental tools through combinatorial use of synthetic chemistry, protein engineering and genetic reporter systems.
  • Integration of intellectual concepts from the whole field, from single cell model organisms to human disease, including cutting edge ideas on sphingolipid sensing, signaling and traffic.
  • Dissemination of research results and outreach actions to bridge the gap between the general public and the frontier of science.


3.3 million euro. Funding is provided by the Marie Curie Initial Training Network program under the call FP7-PEOPLE-2011.