Vidi Grants

Campus Woudestein

Together with Veni and Vici, Vidi is a funding instrument of the NWO Talent Programme. It allows researchers who have already spent several years doing postdoctoral research to develop their own innovative line of research, and to appoint one or more researchers for this. Many scholars of Erasmus University Rotterdam were able to further their research by obtaining a Vidi grant. They study issues such as fatherhood in the 21th century, racial stereotypes in sports journalism and the role of the enzyme CAMK2 in the development of the brain.

Vidi Grants 2023:

  • The big impact of the little brain: Uncovering the role of the cerebellum in autism developmental trajectories

    dr. H.J. Boele, Erasmus MC

    What do brain cells of individuals with autism look like? Here I plan to unravel how various genetic factors cause changes in the structure of brain cells that result in autistic behavior. In addition, I will investigate the most frequent non-genetic autism risk factor: damage to the cerebellum around birth. I will study how this form of autism differs from genetic forms. My research involves measuring brain connections and activity in lab animals using advanced methods.

  • Why do people enjoy stereotypes in online pornography?

    dr. S.R.J.M. van Bohemen, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

    Pornography has a history of relying on stereotypes to deliver its viewers sexual pleasure. On the Internet this culture industry attracts hundreds of millions of people around the world each day. I will develop an interdisciplinary multi-methods approach for understanding why so many people with diverse social backgrounds enjoy watching stereotypes in online porn. Is it because they want to dominate or learn about sexual others? Or are they enjoying these stereotypes because they teach them something about themselves? I also study how these stereotypes impact young people and how we can effectively prevent some of their harmful effects.

  • Intrinsic neuronal control of neurotropic virus infection

    dr. M. van Gent, Erasmus MC

    Virus infections of the human nervous system can have severe deleterious consequences, including neonatal infections with permanent sequelae, eye infections that can lead to permanent blindness, and potentially fatal inflammation of the brain. In this project, it will be investigated how neuronal cells arm themselves against incoming viruses to prevent infection and virus proliferation. Understanding these protective processes is a crucial step towards the development of improved therapeutics to combat virus infections and prevent serious damage to the fragile nervous system.

  • Perfect parents

    prof. P.C.M. Luijk, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

    Raising children is a beautiful yet heavy task. Many parents experience exhaustion, which is a precursor of parental burnout. Underlying parental exhaustion and burnout are societal ideas that parenting can be done ‘right’ and that parents should be able to do it on their own. Paradoxically, although parenting advice is intended to support parents, it may exacerbate the problem by wrongly implying that perfect parenting is possible. In this project, pedagogues study how societal trends influence parental exhaustion and burnout, and will develop, in co-creation with parents, future-proof solutions to reduce parental exhaustion and burnout.

  • Bringing us together or pulling us apart? How working in multiple teams affects inclusion in the workplace

    dr. J. Mell, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

    Many people work in multiple teams at the same time. While this means they meet many colleagues in their different teams, it also means they have little time to build meaningful relationships in each of their teams. This can make them feel like an outsider rather than fully included in the workplace. This project explores how working in multiple teams affects inclusion of women and men in the workplace and develops solutions to offset possible negative effects that working in multiple teams can have on employee inclusion.

  • Prior performance information: blessing or curse?

    dr. K.M. Stegers-Jager, Erasmus MC

    Raters often already have prior information about a trainee. This prior information can contribute to learning, for example through specific feedback, but can also lead to stigmatization. This project investigates how prior information plays a role in single assessments and in decisions based on multiple assessments. The researchers also look at whether this leads to unjustified differences in assessments between ethnic minority and ethnic majority trainees. Unravelling this assessment process is crucial for fair assessments for all trainees, and thereby for achieving a diverse future workforce for our multicultural society.

  • How do urban migration infrastructures facilitate irregular migrant mobility?

    dr. T. Swerts, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

    Irregular migration has become a political priority in Europe. While European and national policies criminalize migrants who are 'in transit' to a further destination, cities and local actors are taking a more inclusive stance. However, local responses to 'transit migration' suffer from a double knowledge gP about the field of institutional and non-institutional actors providing local services to undocumented migrants and the conditions of migrants on the ground. This project closes this gap by comparing urban migration infrastructures in three European transit hubs and demonstrating how these infrastructures locally facilitate the arrival, transit, settlement and departure of undocumented migrants.

  • The mysterious case of biological dark matter and human uniqueness

    dr. A. Vidaki, Erasmus MC

    The vast majority of our DNA code is full of segments that are repeated multiple times and do not contain genes. So far scientists have been largely ignoring them because they were difficulty to read. Yet, we know that in principle they can change or expand and influence disease. In this project, researchers develop novel laboratory and computational methods to accurately read both the sequence and chemical profile of long DNA repeats. They then employ them to study their variation between several tissues of unrelated individuals and identical twins, to uncover the truth behind the uniqueness of repetitive DNA.

  • The action of thyroid hormone in human brain cells

    dr. W.E. Visser, Erasmus MC

    It is well known that thyroid hormone is critical for human brain development. This multidisciplinary project uses human brain samples, stem cell technology and advanced brain imaging to better understand the actions of thyroid hormone in human brain development, both in health and disease.

  • Rules of engagement: unraveling the best strategies for physician-computer collaboration in the diagnostic process

    dr. L. Zwaan, Institute of Medical Education Research Rotterdam (iMERR)/ Erasmus MC

    ‘Computers outperform doctors in diagnosing skin cancer’ is a headline you might see in the newspaper. Computers are indeed reaching high levels of diagnostic performance and diagnostic accuracy can improve substantially if physicians and computers collaborate. However, it is unclear how this collaboration should occur. This project will reveal optimal ways for collaboration between computers and physicians in the diagnostic process.

Vidi grants of previous years

Vidi Grants 2021 (awarded June 2022):

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Overview of the nine researchers who won a Vidi grant in 2020:

Accurate prediction of patients’ choice behaviour avoids poor policy decisions and ‘trial-and-error’ implementation in healthcare. However, current models study choices as if they are independent of other people’s influence hampering accurate ex-ante (‘before’) evaluation of healthcare policies. This project develops and validates a social-interdependent choice paradigm to fill this gap.

Under limited liability entrepreneurs can walk away from certain debts. This incentivizes them to take more risk. Is this a blessing or curse? Peter Koudijs will dive into the history of the introduction of limited liability in the US and analyze its effects on entrepreneurship and innovation

True democracy requires collective deliberation: citizens should not only vote, but also discuss their views. But what norms can such discussion obey? This is the central question behind this project, in which Frederik Van de Putte will develop formal models of deliberation as an interactive, dynamic process, thus mapping out its normative limitations.

Digital media offer opportunities but also risks for children. Therefore, schools are increasingly investing in digital media literacy. However, being media-literate does not automatically mean that children behave safely online. With innovative game-technology, the researchers examine how children can be empowered to use digital media in a safe and responsible manner.

Precisely timed actions are reflected in virtually every skilled behaviour in humans and do not merely represent normal function of the nervous system, they represent optimal function. This proposal studies how the brain uses memory and signals in the environment to generate rapid and precisely timed actions.

DNA replication stress is a precursor of genome instability, that is linked to tumor development. In this project, the researcher wants to study the factors that cause instability of the DNA replication process and how our cells cope with the genetic instability.

Stroke is caused by rupture of the cap overlying an atherosclerotic plaque in the carotid artery. In this project, the scientist working on the intersection of cardiovascular biology, technology, and imaging, will tissue engineer caps to identify new imaging biomarkers for the identification of the cap at risk of rupture.

Cancer screening is a one-size-fits-all approach, despite substantial differences in risk in the population. This project aims to bring personalised screening into practice. The researchers will determine the optimal screening strategy based on age, gender and prior screening results and test the advantages of personalised screening in a clinical study.

Epstein-Barr virus infection is associated with autoimmune diseases showing genetic changes in CD4+ T- and B-cells. The researcher wants to understand how cytotoxic CD4+ T-cells are forced to recruit and cause damage in the brain, and utilize this knowledge to improve the prognosis and treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis.

Overview of the six researchers who won a Vidi grant in 2019:

Modern technology and the internet makes data collection easier such that data sets are growing bigger, but also less reliable. Alfons will therefore develop new statistical methods for rating data that are not influenced by bad data points.

Cities across the world are looking for ways to make their economies more circular, and localised production is seen as key to this process. Brandellero will comparatively examines how making locally is articulated and valued, in order to understand its potential role in sustainable urban futures.

Think before you act. An important feature of voluntary movements is that we can decide about an optimal strategy before execution. It is currently unclear how the brain determines an action plan that guides future movement. Gao will study how the cerebellum (little brain) helps by making a decision.

Hepatitis E virus has emerged as a true global health issues, with particular threatens to pregnant women and organ transplantation patients. Pan aims to identify treatment from existing FDA-approved medications that are safe, cheap and effective to combat this disease in developing and developed counties.

Stoop will deepen the knowledge on poverty using novel field experiments requiring rich and poor households to return envelopes. The experiments mimic daily chores, and the impact of financial stress on their implementation. The results are important for future implementations of government policies.

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

Brain activity underlying stereotyped behaviours in autism spectrum disorder

Dr Aleksandra Badura aims to understand how cerebello-cortical brain activity translates into behaviours that adapt to ever-changing environments. She is particularly interested in uncovering the mechanisms of maladaptive perseverative behaviours characteristic of autism spectrum disorder. To this end, she employs a wide range of techniques, ranging from behavioural assays and ‘in vivo’ electrophysiology to virtual reality, calcium imaging and modelling.

Positively Shocking! The redistributive impact of mass mortality through epidemic diseases

Dr Daniel Curtis’ project tests a widely-supported notion that catastrophic shocks such as violent conflict and epidemic diseases were the only times throughout history when societies became more equal. Was this really so, and were there particular societal and epidemiological conditions that allowed the direction of redistribution to deviate from this pattern? In light of contemporary concerns about emerging infectious diseases, it is imperative we understand the capacity of epidemic diseases to shape socio-economic development. This is especially important when we consider the grossly inaccurate predictions of the economic impact of Ebola.

Curious cases of public opinion 

Remarkably enough, citizens from opposite ends of the political spectrum often voice similar stances when it comes to the EU, the welfare state or development aid. Together with two PhD candidates, Dr Willem de Koster will be building on insights from cultural sociology and political science to understand such curious cases of public opinion. Do these exist because different social groups interpret the same issue differently? And does this also explain their respective reactions to public information campaigns? These questions are answered through a novel interdisciplinary mixed-methods approach.

The (none) making of a criminal

In his Vidi research, Olivier Marie examines three phases in an individual’s life during which crime can be prevented. In the first place, at birth, through the selection of individuals who decide to have children. Secondly, during the individual’s teenage years, by proposing novel interventions to prevent escalation. And thirdly, by assigning the right prisoner to the right prison to minimise peer effects. The main question that this research seeks to answer is: ‘During which phase is intervention most efficient to prevent a life of crime?’

Respiratory viruses unmasked: exploring their neurotropic potential

Respiratory viruses, and especially influenza A virus and enterovirus D68, can cause diseases of the central nervous system. However, the underlying mechanism of how this works is largely unknown. In her study, Dr Debby van Riel will unravel how respiratory viruses enter and cause damage to the nervous system and identify important viral factors. The results can be used to optimise diagnostics. 

Racial stereotypes in football journalism. How does the audience respond?

Dr Jacco van Sterkenburg is researching the assignment of meaning to ethnicity and skin colour in the production process for televised football broadcasts. He will subsequently examine how this assignment of meaning is translated into media content and audience experiences. This study will be performed in four European countries: England, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. This research is intended to yield new insights into the role played by football in discourses of ethnicity and skin colour and discourses of whiteness.

Perfusion of the cardiac muscle – QUANTO

Following acute treatment for myocardial infarction, the treatment does not result in full restoration of perfusion in the cardiac muscle in one-third of the patients. Dr ir. Rik Vos will be creating a new ultrasound system that will allow us to make ultra-high-speed images of the heart. We will then be able to view and analyse these images in slow motion. This allows us to accurately map perfusion during the procedure and even test various therapies to immediately restore perfusion.

CAMK2 and brain development: inseparably linked?

CAMK2 is one of the most extensively studied enzymes in the adult brain, but its role in neurodevelopment remains unknown. Research recently identified individuals with a neurodevelopment disorder characterised by Intellectual Disability caused by mutations in the CAMK2 genes – indicating that CAMK2 also plays an important role during neurodevelopment. Dr Geeske van Woerden will be investigating the role of CAMK2 in neuronal development and studying the downstream signalling pathways. These findings will provide new insights into and a better understanding of CAMK2’s influence on the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders and will hopefully create openings for the development of therapies for CAMK2-related disorder patients.

Social welfare and dependency passed on from parents to children

ELectrical bIoMarkers guided Individualized Diagnosis And ThErapy of Atrial Fibrillation (ELIMINATE - AF)

Dads, dimes and quarters

Monitoring foetal hormones using the mother's blood

Advanced canced patients' control over their situation

Dutch culture wars?

The role of chronically altered metabolism and signalling of the stress hormone cortisol in the development of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases.


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