Vidi grant

Seven Vidi’s for Erasmus MC

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded seven experienced researchers at Erasmus MC a Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros. The grant enables them to develop their own innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years.

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You can find the researchers who receive the Vidi 2021 and a short description of their research below.

Dr. Stefan Barakat, Clinical Genetics

Outside of genes in epilepsy
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.

Photography: Eelkje Colmjon.

Dr. Romy Gaillard, Pediatrics

Impact of obesity on the start of life
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.

Dr. Cristina Gontan, Developmental Biology

Gender differences in susceptibility to cognitive conditions due to the X-chromosome
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.

Dr. Rebekka Schneider, Developmental Biology

Kidneys and blood
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.

Dr. Miao-Ping Chien, Molecular Genetics

Sequence the abnormality
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.

Dr. Nitika Taneja, Molecular Genetics

Targeting chromatin environment around DNA replication fork to destabilize tumor cell proliferation
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.

Photography: Bella Banjanin.

Dr. Aaron Wong, Neuroscience

Hearing more than sound
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.

NWO Talent Programme

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. Of these, 101 have now been awarded funding. Visit this website for more information.

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