Veni Grants

With a Veni grant, scholars are enabled to develop their research for the coming three years. Talented researchers are granted a maximum of 250,000 euros. In 2018, several scholars of Erasmus University Rotterdam have received a Veni grant from the NWO.

Veni Grants in 2023:

  • Cerebrocerebellar interactions underlying the coordination of complex behaviour - Dr. Vincenzo Romano (Erasmus MC)

    ''Interaction between small and big brainTo make precise movements, our big and small brain (cerebrum and cerebellum) exchange electrical signals. Thus far, studies have examined the big and small brain separately, or in relation to one body part. Therefore, we lack a comprehensive understanding of how we control simultaneous movements in multiple body parts. My hypothesis is that signals travel back and forth between the big and small brain at different stages of movement. With the technologies I develop, I aim to reveal how these two brain cortices work together during natural behaviour, deepening our understanding of neurological conditions.''

  • The front page: early transcriptional regulation of host-pathogen interaction - Dr. Kristina Lanko (Erasmus MC)

    ''While wild-type poliovirus is almost eradicated, other related enteroviruses have emerged, that can also lead to a sudden paralysis in children. This happens when motor neurons are affected by the virus. In this project the scientist will investigate the first responses when an enterovirus infects motor neurons with a novel combination of techniques from the field of genetics and virology. This research aims at understanding how motor neurons change their behaviour during infection. This will help us to elucidate how enterovirus causes paralysis.''

  • Green growth and equity: Securing material resources for green transition - Dr. Ioannis Kampourakis (Erasmus School of Law)

    ''My project explores how the new EU policies on critical raw materials change the political economy of the Union. These EU policies seek to reshape markets so that they function not only for the fulfilment private interests but also for the achievement of public objectives. I will empirically investigate how this emerging legal framework affects impacted communities in mining and manufacturing sites. Finally, I will explore whether the legal framework on material resources can lead to a just and global green transition – and, if not, what reforms will be necessary to achieve this.''

  • From creative labour to social change: another look at cultural work through care politics - Dr. Kristina Kolbe (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication)

    ''Despite diversity policies, raced, classed, and gendered inequalities in Europe’s creative sector persist. This project, however, explores how cultural work can be re-imagined, and notably, re-practiced through a focus on care politics. Looking at the music sector, I will conduct a multi-sited ethnography of music collectives in the Netherlands, UK, Germany, and France to study how care is constructed in their creative, organizational, and social practices of music production. I thereby trace how care offers a new principle for creative labor that unsettles inequalities but will also analyze under which institutional parameters it merely reproduces hierarchy and precariousness.''

  • Dealing with social rejection and the well-being of young people - Dr. Michelle Achterberg (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences)

    ''Social rejection is one of the most challenging experiences for children and can have long-lasting negative impact on their well-being. Scientists currently do not understand why some children are more affected by social rejection than others. With the data collected in this Veni-project, I will be able to investigate the social development of children for 10 ongoing years (7 to 17 years old). Using brain imaging techniques in combination with daily questions through smartphones, I aim to discover which children are most affected by social rejection, to ultimately determine how we can best facilitate social development of these children.''

  • A deep machine learning approach to foster sustainable behavior - Dr. Sebastian Gabel (Rotterdam School of Management)

    ''Behavioral interventions are a valuable tool for policymakers to tackle persistent societal problems such as climate change. However, researchers have increasingly challenged predominant one-size-fits-all approaches that use the same interventions for everyone. I propose a scalable deep machine learning approach that personalizes behavioral interventions. The approach first predicts the effectiveness of behavioral interventions and then identifies the optimal intervention mix and timing for each individual. Understanding differences in individuals’ susceptibilities to interventions will enable researchers to offer more nuanced guidance to policymakers. Policymakers can use the proposed approach to trigger behavioral change more effectively and increase welfare.''

  • Young people as drivers of change - Dr. Lysanne te Brinke (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences)

    ''Adolescents who are growing up in the current decade need to deal with several societal challenges, such as increases in social inequalities and climate change. During the developmental period of adolescence, individuals experience a strong need to contribute to these societal challenges. However, little is known about how best to shape this need to contribute. In this project, I examine how adolescents can become agents of change, by looking at differences between contributions to close others and contributions to the broader society.''

  • Making AI less artificial - Dr. Joao Fernando Gonçalves (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication)

    ''Artificial intelligence has brought exciting innovations to everyday life, but also risks such as discrimination and errors in high stakes decisions such as awarding child benefits or driving a car. This risk often happens because the people who develop these algorithms can make them work very well on the data they have, but not in unpredictable real-world situations that depend on complex human interactions. To solve this problem, this project uses knowledge from the social sciences to improve data and make AI algorithms better at handling unforeseen situations when interacting with humans.''

  • Self-insurance through Temporary Work - Dr. Ana Gomes Figueiredo Varatojo dos Santos (Erasmus School of Economics)

    ''Understanding the job search behavior of the unemployed is important to design effective labor market policies. For example, wealthy workers can use their liquid savings to prolong job search, but this is not an option for low-wealth workers. Instead, these workers can search for easier-to-find jobs to smooth consumption. What type of jobs they pursue to shorten unemployment duration and protect themselves against the adverse consequences of job loss remains an open question. This research tackles this issue by studying the impact of wealth on the take-up of temporary work after job loss and its long-term implications for earnings..''

  • Enterovirus' guide to the central nervous system: how to infect, spread and cause inflammation in brain cells - Dr. Lisa Bauer (Erasmus MC)

    ''Enteroviruses infect millions of people annually and can cause a broad range of severe and life-threatening neurological diseases. It is unknown which brain cells enteroviruses infect, how enteroviruses spread through the brain and how brain cells react to the virus infection. Here, I will study which specific brain cells are infected by enteroviruses and how these viruses travel from cell to cell. This project is an essential stepping stone to understand enterovirus-induced neurological complications and will help in the development of antivirals.''

  • ThyHeart: male-female differences in cardiovascular disease explained by thyroid hormone metabolites - Dr. Layal Chaker (Erasmus MC)

    ''The reason for sex-differences in cardiovascular disease is not fully understood but hormonal  differences may play a role. Thyroid dysfunction is common in the general population, especially in women. Thyroid hormone and its metabolites have shown clear cardiovascular effects in animal models, but this has not been studied in humans due to lack of a reliable measurement method.  This project uses a novel method to measure thyroid hormones and their metabolites to investigate their role in the difference in cardiovascular disease between men and women.''

  • To breathe or not to breathe on your own? New strategies for safe transition to assisted artificial ventilation- Dr. Annemijn Jonkman (Erasmus MC)

    ''Mechanical ventilation in the ICU is life-saving for patients with acute lung failure. In the initial phase, respiration is fully controlled by the ventilator - the patient is deeply asleep. A crucial milestone is switching to assisted ventilation: patient’s spontaneous breathing is resumed while the ventilator assists respiration. The optimal timing of this switch is unknown. Spontaneous breathing could worsen lung injury, but there are no bedside methods to measure this risk. Using innovative lung imaging techniques, this project aims to determine when to safely switch to assisted ventilation. This is extremely important in order to accelerate ventilator liberation and recovery.''

Veni grants in the previous years

Overview of the five researchers who won the 2022 Veni grant:

"Despite the growing debate on social equality and social efforts to introduce it in organisations, women leaders still face gender-related biases in evaluations. These biases can be triggered when women leaders endorse or reject their employees' change-oriented ideas, bringing negative consequences for them. This project aims to understand these consequences and provide up-to-date solutions that will enable women leaders to effectively deal with their employees' change-oriented ideas and avoid biased evaluations."

"From organs, blood and bones to urine, milk and sperm-in today's medicine, we can donate almost any part of our bodies. The possibilities seem limitless; but we do set moral boundaries. What boundaries are they? Why do we put them where we put them? And how do these boundaries unfold in the daily practice of medicine? In this project, I examine moralising processes surrounding the medical use of human bodily material in the twentieth century. With this historical perspective, I examine how modern medical practice has influenced our moral attitudes towards (parts of) our bodies."

"Resilience is the new magic word in nature policy: our ecosystems, the thinking goes, must become resilient to meet the challenges of rapid and unpredictable climate change. But what does this mean in practice for nature managers? What value judgements are involved, and what knowledge does it require? Using in-depth ethnographic research in three different ecosystem types - heathland, forest, and tidal wetlands - I study how 'resilience' takes shape in the everyday practices of nature managers, and analyse how resilience leads to new forms of knowing, valuing, and managing nature."

"Listening to music has proven positive effects on well-being. But where a song is healing for some, it can irritate others immoderately. Because a person's music taste is influenced by their social background, in this mixed-methods project I investigate why music affects subjective well-being differently, based on key group characteristics such as class, gender and race/ethnicity."

"To improve access to healthcare, investments are being made worldwide in four healthcare channels: fixed clinics, mobile units, door-to-door units, and remote care. Which channels are the best fit for a given health service in a given context is an open question. This project is developing models, algorithms, insights, and simple decision rules for policymakers."

Overview of the seven researchers who won the 2021 Veni grant:

"Rabies virus suppresses the immune system and symptoms only appear once the virus has reached the brain. Treatment is then no longer possible and all rabies patients (59,000/year worldwide) die. I want to understand how the virus suppresses the immune system, and test a new treatment strategy that restores and strengthens the immune response to the rabies virus."

"In bone marrow fibrosis, normal bone marrow tissue is gradually replaced by scar tissue, leading to bone marrow failure and death. Recent data suggest that inflammation plays a major role in the development of bone marrow fibrosis, but the mechanisms remain unknown. This project focuses on addressing inflammation as a new treatment option."

"For patients with aggressive breast cancer, there are no effective therapies. My preliminary research shows that a relatively unknown family of proteins makes it difficult for immune cells to reach and/or fight tumours. In my proposal, I will study the anti-immune activity of these enzymes, and test enzyme-neutralising strategies to increase treatment options."

"I will integrate causal bias analysis into cost-effectiveness analyses, better identifying when plausible biases (confounding, selection bias) can easily alter decisions and when decisions are robust to bias. These methods will be applied to the cost-effectiveness of total knee replacement, perfusion MRI and BMI interventions."

"We have learned that most diseases have a genetic component, but do not yet understand the underlying processes. With artificial intelligence, I will investigate the complex relationship between DNA mutations and human health. This will be the basis for the development of new diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic tools."

"One in four elderly people have an increased risk of stroke and dementia because they have unknowingly suffered a stroke. In this research I take a closer look at these 'silent' infarcts to unravel characteristics and mechanisms that will enable personalised treatment against stroke and dementia."

"Everyday clinical decision-making is usually not based on individual patient data, but on clinical experience and guidelines. Decisions are therefore not individualised and there is a risk of suboptimal decision making. I present a method for real-time prediction of individualised outcomes and costs, to improve shared decision-making and value for patients."

Overview of the seven researchers who won a Veni grant in 2020:

Osteoarthritis becomes the most prevalent disease in the Netherlands by 2040, but its etiology is still unknown. This research combines all worldwide available hip osteoarthritis data to create a prediction model, providing novel insights in person-specific risk factors for personalised treatment and prevention.

An increasing number of migrants are reported selling their kidneys to enter Europe. This study investigates how, where and by whom the sale of their kidneys is facilitated and how exploitation of these migrants occurs.

Pompe disease is a severe myopathy, for which enzyme-replacement therapy is available. Despite treatment not all patients benefit equally well. This research uses a multidisciplinary approach to detect the factors underlying the variable response, and validate new outcome-measures, in order to improve therapy and tailor it to the individual patient.

Treatment optimisation in patients with ILD is achievable by detection of lung fibrosis and inflammation. The M-ILD study will quantify fibrosis and inflammation using innovative MRI techniques and develop a new sensitive patient-tailored monitoring platform of treatment response.

Is personalisation possible within large-scale screening programs? Ten Haaf’s research investigates how screening programs can consider an individual’s unique characteristics, such as familial history and comorbidity. Innovative models will be developed, which combine these individual characteristics with recent test results to enable personalised screening programs for breast, colon and lung cancer.

What does the meat on your plate eat? Huge amounts of feed from all over the world made Dutch factory farming possible. Haalboom researches historical changes in the origins of that feed and its global consequences for societies and environments. This is critical for present-day debate about the livestock industry.

Overview of the eight researchers who won a Veni grant in 2019:

More and more people are living in cities. To accommodate everyone, people are living closer to each other. How healthy is that? With the help of residents and innovative methods, the research identifies the impact of recent urbanisation in the Randstad in the Netherlands on mental health.

More and more people are living in cities. To accommodate everyone, people are living closer to each other. How healthy is that? With the help of residents and innovative methods, the research identifies the impact of recent urbanisation in the Randstad in the Netherlands on mental health.

For service providers such as ambulance services and roadside assistance, the service involves bringing the right assistance to a location as quickly as possible. Van den Berg is developing models to improve this service provision through improved distribution and allocation of vehicles across the region.

Prostate and breast cancer can be visualised and treated with focused radioactive molecules. The result of this can be influenced by previous treatments. Dalm’s research shows the influence of previous treatments and helps to determine when and in whom radioactive molecules can best be used.

Following the crisis, most central banks were given explicit responsibilities with respect to financial stability. This made them more sensitive to political pressure. Lambert is analysing the political dynamics around central banks and the impact on financial stability. The research uses new data sources and advanced statistical methods.

The quest for gender equality appears to be more difficult than at first thought, partly because of the hidden nature of stereotyping. Li uses behavioural-economic techniques to combat stereotyping. She will be introducing a new measure of stereotyping and the welfare costs of stereotyping, will identify the causes of stereotyping and introduce new techniques to reduce stereotyping.

Optimisation at times of uncertainty, such as schedules for public transport providers or protection from floods, comprise successive decision-making and information inflow. Solutions need to achieve high performance levels, and decisions need to be adapted according to the latest information. Postek’s goal is robust optimisation combined with machine learning.

Some people with a psychological disorder receive insufficient care, while others receive too much care. Ravesteijn’s research used the introduction of the Personal Contribution as a natural experiment. Using statistical methods, he is researching the extent to which personal payments can result in optimum access to mental healthcare.

Overview of the eight researchers who won a Veni grant in 2018:

Translating ‘big data’ into clinical improvement of neurodegenerative diseases

‘Big data’ has provided us with new insights into the underlying mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Even so, patients are still receiving the same type of clinical care. Dr Hieab Adams seeks to use new statistical methods to use data sets providing information on cerebral imaging and genetics – MRI scans of the brain that consist of millions of measurement points, for example, or tens of millions of genome variations. The objective is to be able to more quickly translate study findings into clinical treatment methods.

How can we gain control over the dementia epidemic? 

Dementia is a major public health issue and is well on its way to becoming the leading cause of death in our society. Although we are steadily increasing our knowledge of dementia, we have not yet determined the best approach to combating this disease. Dr Inge de Kok is developing an innovative microsimulation model that integrates our existing knowledge about the causes, development and course of dementia, as well as the effects of interventions. This increases our insight into the development of the disease and identifies which interventions are most effective when it comes to combating dementia. 

The interaction between different brain areas in autism

Autism is a common neurodevelopmental disorder, characterised by social problems and repetitive behaviour. Disruptions in cerebellar development or functioning can cause autism. Dr Lieke Kros will be examining how the cerebellum affects other key brain regions. How does this interplay contribute to autism? She will be recording neuronal activity from several brain areas during autism-relevant activities like social interactions and cognitive flexibility tasks. Her aim is to help identify new treatment possibilities.

Personalised care for patients with a thyroid disease

Despite treatment, millions of patients with a thyroid disease worldwide are affected by debilitating residual symptoms. In addition, these patients are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and mortality. This is due to the fact that it is currently impossible to predict the optimal thyroid values for individual patients. Dr Marco Medici wants to predict these values on the basis of – among other things – unique genetic markers and other individual patient characteristics. This project is expected to lead to personalised care for patients with a thyroid disease.

Customised or arbitrary care at the kitchen table?

The stakes are high at Dutch kitchen tables. So-called ‘kitchen table talks’ are being held in each municipality in the Netherlands. During these talks, citizens and professionals negotiate about care. Which care should still be provided by the government? And what can citizens do in a ‘participation society’? In her research, Dr Lieke Oldenhof will map out this new division of care responsibilities. The results will contribute to improved quality of decision-making in social district teams and theory development about values in the ‘participation society’. 

Hands-on or hands-off? Human behaviour in modern operations management 

Despite increased automation and robotisation, humans play an essential role in modern logistics. Also in the near future, human labour will remain pivotal in operations management. However, the influence of human behaviour in this domain is underestimated in both academia and practice. Through realistic experiments, Dr Jelle de Vries studies the impact of human behaviour and the collaboration between humans and robots on productivity, quality, and employee job satisfaction.

Food for thought: oxygen delivery to the brain

How does the physiology of the brain work? How can we measure this functioning as effectively and non-invasively as possible? These are the questions that specifically interest dr ir. Esther Warnert. She is developing and validating imaging techniques for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners. This enables users to gain greater insight into, for example, cell division processes or oxygen delivery in the brain and to map out the effects of conditions like a stroke more effectively. This will result in improved treatment for patients.

Locomotion and cerebellar modules

In order for normal movement to be possible, neurons that are involved in its control must both function correctly and be organised correctly. The cerebellum is crucial to normal movement and is organised in a very precise manner. However, how this organisation is created during development and how it relates to ongoing locomotor behaviour, is not known. Dr Joshua James White will study the development of the locomotor circuitry. He will use classical genetic as well as optogenetic manipulations to better understand the role of cerebellar organisation in locomotion.

New brain connections

Lovely sex or sexy love? A dynamic and dyadic study on the interrelatedness between youths’ romantic and sexual development.

Identification, Isolation and Analysis of Single Cancer Stem Cells

Unravelling the brain’s internal sensory and motor models of standing

Extracting more information from high-frequency data: Looking for signs of direction through Realized Semicovariances

General psychopathology greater than the sum of its parts? Environmental and epigenetic risk from prenatal life to adolescence

Self-Control without the Self: The Numerical Aggregation System and Overconsumption

Fatal first impressions?

New imaging technique sees the heart attack before it happens

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