NWO-Vidi of 800.000 euros to nine Erasmus University and Erasmus MC researchers

Nine researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam and Erasmus MC receive a Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This will enable them to develop their own innovative line of research and to set up a research group over the next five years

The Rotterdam awards

The odd one out: What we may learn from entrepreneurs with a physical or cognitive impairment - Dr. R.M. Bakker, Erasmus University Rotterdam

The inclusion of individuals with a physical or cognitive impairment is an important societal concern. We often think of such impairments in terms of their negative consequences. What if there were positive implications too? Consider, for example, the resilience of someone having had to overcome a disabling disease or impairment. Through a series of (field) experiments, this research will examine if smart interventions may serve to attenuate the negative stigma that surrounds people with disabilities, and thereby offer opportunities for emancipation and business creation.

Cannabis: the highs and lows for brain health - Dr. J. Cousijn, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Cannabis has two faces. One that helps users feel better and one that actually causes problems. This research teaches us how this is possible. In medical and non-medical users from different countries, we investigate which characteristics of users and their environment can best tell us who will experience which highs and low.

Outside of genes in epilepsy - Dr. T.S.Barakat, Erasmus MC

Severe epilepsy is often caused by gene mutations. In most patients, the genetic cause cannot be identified. Here, we will focus on the non-coding genome, to find alterations that might lead to epilepsy, located outside protein-coding genes. Mutations in such regulatory elements are known to cause disease, but have not been studied in epilepsy. We will change this, using novel technology and stem cell disease modelling. This will increase our knowledge on how epilepsy originates, will lead to new diagnostics and might on the long term lead to novel therapies.

Impact of obesity on the start of life - Dr. R. Gaillard, Erasmus MC, Sophia Children’s Hospital

Obesity of the mother, before and during pregnancy, leads to increased risks of cardiovascular diseases in their offspring. It is not known how maternal obesity increases this risk of adverse offspring health outcomes. This research examines the impact of maternal obesity on the development of the placenta and the embryo in the earliest phase of life, the subsequent effects on offspring cardiovascular health throughout the life-course and potential next steps to prevent these detrimental effects in offspring.

Gender differences in susceptibility to cognitive conditions due to the X-chromosome - Dr. M.C. Gontan, Erasmus MC

Men and women have different chances to suffer from cognitive conditions. For example, autism has a higher frequency in men and anxiety conditions occur more in women. Because women have two X-chromosomes and men only one, women have to silence one X-chromosome. How this works is not well known and may explain some male-female differences. The researchers will investigate the silencing of the X-chromosome and hope to find an explanation for the mentioned gender differences.

Kidney and blood - Dr. R.K. Schneider, Erasmus MC

Our kidneys and blood are in a continuous cross-talk as kidneys filters our blood. One major open question is how this cross-talk is changed when the kidney function decreases or when blood cells become abnormal in a blood cancer. Clinical data indicate that this understanding is urgently needed as patients with reduced kidney function have an abnormal blood production and patients with blood cancer have reduced kidney function. We aim to protect the kidney from losing its function in blood cancer and to maintain a normal production of blood cells in kidney disease.

Sequence the abnormality - Dr. Miao-Ping Chien, Erasmus MC

Tumors change over time. Abnormalities in chromosomes are a main cause for these progressive changes in the nature and composition of cells that make up a tumor. These changes can lead to therapy resistance in for instance glioblastoma, the deadliest brain cancer. Biophysicists develop a technology to identify rare cancer cells bearing severe chromosomal abnormalities and to study these cells at unprecedented resolution. They investigate the causes and consequences of abnormal chromosomes in glioblastoma and aim to generate information that can lead to improved treatment for glioblastoma.

Targeting chromatin environment around DNA replication fork to destabilize tumor cell proliferation - Dr. N. Taneja, Erasmus MC

Unregulated DNA replication can provide limitless proliferation potential to tumor cells. The mechanisms regulating DNA replication machinery are poorly understood. This research focuses on identifying the specific chromatin organization signatures during replication in cancer cells and target those to cause instability of DNA replication process in cancer cells.

Hearing more than sound - Dr. A.B. Wong, Erasmus MC Rotterdam

The perception of sound can often be enhanced by stimulus from a different sense. For instance, lip-reading helps the understanding of speech. This fundamental brain function, called “multisensory integration”, depends on putting the right information at the right place at the right time. Researchers will use microscopy and electric recordings to investigate how brain cells connect and communicate with each other, and uncover how they integrate sound information with information from other senses.

About Vidi

Vidi is aimed at experienced researchers who have carried out successful research for a number of years after obtaining their PhDs. Together with Veni and Vici, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programme. Researchers in the Talent Programme are free to submit their own subject for funding. NWO thus encourages curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use.

A total of 625 researchers submitted an admissible research project for funding during this Vidi funding round.

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