ZonMw news https://www.zonmw.nl/ The latest news from ZonMw en-gb Mon, 28 Nov 2022 15:35:35 +0100 Mon, 28 Nov 2022 15:35:35 +0100 TYPO3 news-9186 Wed, 07 Dec 2022 09:12:00 +0100 Mapping integrity: a scientific and personal challenge https://publicaties.zonmw.nl/mapping-integrity-a-scientific-and-personal-challenge/ Fenneke Blom (Amsterdam UMC) and colleagues brought together existing initiatives that encourage research integrity and accommodated them at The Embassy of Good Science. Anyone working to promote research integrity can now draw on these initiatives for ideas and inspiration. Fenneke looks back at her project, which was both a scientific and a personal challenge. news-9163 Tue, 15 Nov 2022 09:00:00 +0100 Talent Scheme newsflash: simplified application process and planning 2023 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/talent-scheme-newsflash-simplified-application-process-and-planning-2023/ The introduction of a two-stage assessment procedure will streamline the application process for the entire Talent Scheme. In addition, the submission dates for the pre-proposals for the 2023 Talent Scheme are largely known: 14 March for the Vici and 5 September for the Veni. The deadline for the Vidi pre-proposal will fall in the last quarter of 2023. Starting next year, compulsory pre-proposals will be introduced for the Veni, Vidi and Vici grants. The mandatory pre-proposal means that researchers are not immediately required to write a detailed and time-consuming research application. The pre-proposal includes a CV with an academic profile, a selection of key outputs (broader than just publications) and a short research idea. The latter is used to gauge whether the applicant’s CV fits the research. In the academic profile, researchers can outline what kind of scientist they are. What is the academic’s research focus, agenda and vision? What has he or she done to achieve that vision? NWO selects applicants from the pre-proposals who may then submit a detailed proposal.

Introducing mandatory pre-proposals in all rounds saves time

A pre-proposal saves both applicants and reviewers a lot of time. Indeed, this working method helps to limit application pressure and reduce the workload for researchers and reviewers.  
There appears to be further scope to shorten the assessment procedure even more. The Executive Board is currently reviewing proposals for this. NWO expects to communicate the Board’s decision in early December.

Assessment of the detailed proposal

The CV will not be evaluated as a separate criterion when assessing the detailed proposal. At this stage, the assessment revolves around the scientific quality and impact of the proposed research. Nevertheless, the research proposal is not viewed completely independently of the CV. The researcher’s expertise, experience and previous work are taken into account when assessing the feasibility and innovative nature of the proposal.

Revising scope of target groups postponed

NWO is still reflecting on the profile of the target groups in light of the new objective set earlier this year for the Talent Programme. First, the effects of the new Starter and Incentive Grants on the target groups of the Talent Programme will be examined. Once this is clear, NWO will proceed with establishing the scope of these target groups. This will be done in consultation with researchers, administrators of knowledge institutions where they work, and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, which commissioned the Talent Programme.

Source: NWO

news-9140 Tue, 08 Nov 2022 10:44:38 +0100 ZonMw signs Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-signs-agreement-on-reforming-research-assessment/ On 28 October, ZonMw signed the European ‘Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment’. This agreement between the European Commission and Science Europe (the European research organisations) contains agreements on how research results should be assessed with the aim of improving the quality and impact of research. The agreement contains principles, commitments and timetables for reforms. The signatory organisations will also become members of a coalition that will work together on implementing the changes and sharing the acquired experiences. The agreement reflects the changes in Dutch science that ZonMw actively contributes to as a research funding body. Together with NWO, we have from the outset subscribed to the principles of the Recognition and Rewards programme, and we are implementing that in our policy and processes.

Arfan Ikram, chair of the ZonMw board and member of the NWO Executive Board: ‘We think it is also important that the cultural change in science, which we are striving to realise together, is also encouraged at an international level. After all, researchers and knowledge institutions are connected with each other worldwide.’

Enforcement of existing agreements

The principles, commitments and time schedule enforce the policy we are already executing, or are in the process of doing so, for implementing Recognition & Rewards or DORA. By signing the agreement, we commit ourselves to a broader form of recognising and rewarding the variety of tasks academics perform. The agreement also wants research assessment to be based primarily on qualitative evaluations, possibly supported by quantitative indicators.

Time schedule for implementing changes

We will also strive to realise the time frame of the agreement for implementing the changes as well as the required open evaluation of these changes. By the end of 2023, signatories should have made concrete plans, and evaluations will be completed by 2027.

Co-creation of the agreement

The agreement was initiated and developed by the European Commission. Together with Science Europe and a core group of 20 research organisations, including ZonMw, the Commission launched a co-creation process in January that led to this agreement. The final version was published on 28 October 2022. ZonMw fully supports the content of the final version and officially signed it on 28 October.

Delighted about the European scope

We are delighted that the changes in research assessment initiated some time ago in the Recognition & Rewards programme are now being picked up and implemented outside the Netherlands. Even though the agreement was established by European organisations, organisations from all over the world are expected to join. So far, more than 350 organisations from 40 countries have expressed interest.

ZonMw has subscribed to the assumptions of the national Recognition and Rewards programme since its inception. The programme aims to assess the full scope of scientific results and qualifications. There is room for all aspects related to the activities of scientists. The full scope of academic activities refers to the following: the quality of work, impact and relevance, competences in collaboration and outreach, and participation in key developments such as open science. This does justice to what is expected of the modern scientist in today’s society.

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news-9089 Tue, 25 Oct 2022 11:53:00 +0200 Research integrity at universities of applied sciences: are researchers and directors taking responsibility? https://publicaties.zonmw.nl/research-integrity-at-universities-of-applied-sciences-are-researchers-and-directors-taking-responsibility/ In 2019 Rob van der Sande, lector at the HAN University of Applied Sciences, launched a ZonMw project to develop integrity training courses for the universities of applied sciences (UASs). Three years on, he is conducting an interim review with Susan Berentsen, UAS lecturer and leader of the implementation project. Is research integrity more than data management, privacy and statistical significance? Why did they decide to focus on training for young researchers? And are directors taking responsibility when it comes to research integrity? news-9038 Mon, 10 Oct 2022 09:30:00 +0200 Programme day Human Measurement Models https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/programme-day-human-measurement-models/ On the 4th of October, researchers, non-profit organisations and companies gathered for the yearly Programme day Human Measurement Models. The theme of this day was to exchange knowledge about the development of new human measurement models which uses humans as a base: the so-called ‘human measurement models’. These models are based on human material, such as stem cells, tissue after an operation or ‘Organ-On-A-Chip’. This day was organised by the Association of Collaborating Health Foundations (Samenwerkende Gezondheidsfondsen, SGF), Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH; Health~Holland), NWO-domain TTW and ZonMw who set up the research programme ‘Human Measurement Models’ together. This research programme started in 2021. In total, 9 million euro was awarded to 13 research projects. These projects involve a collaboration between companies and non-profit organisations such as the Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing (Stichting Proefdiervrij) and other health funds, who also play a role as indispensable co-financers. In some cases, even patient representatives are involved in these projects.

There is a possibility that these human material-based research models mimic the situations in humans more accurately than models based on laboratory animals, emphasises Tom Oostrom, managing director of the Dutch Kidney Foundation. The results can be implemented more specific and faster in practice. Besides, the results are also available for patients when a model is more comparable to the human situation. This way, science focusses more on human and even personalised measurement models, which results in that we become less dependent on laboratory animal research.

‘We will get the desired inclusion much faster if we collaborate with patients equally and involve them with determining what is achievable for them in a study.’ – Tine van den Bos, chair of the Foundation Bekkenbodem4All involved in the IP-ABC project.

It is a new research field where the latest technologies are being used. The goal of the day was to increase the bond between the projects and those who are involved to exchange generated knowledge from the projects to help each other out. This was facilitated during this day through pitches and discussions about common challenges. One of these challenges is how to handle variability of a human measurement model. Furthermore, extensive consideration was given to the possibility to bring the lab to the clinic and what challenges come with this.

‘I was mostly oriented on biology and now I looked more closely to the technological side and from the perspective of a company. I did not know how to deal with other angles and perspectives, but now I know who I need to bring everything together.’ - Marit Keuper-Navis, researcher involved in the DEDOC project.

‘In this context it could be seen that a few concrete initiatives were taken for the quality, validation and standardisation, production and upscaling of these models.’ - Janny van den Eijnden-van Raaij, managing director hDMT.                                        

Even though these projects differ in content, an important observation of this day is that there are many comparable challenges. When we join forces, much more is possible.

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news-9014 Thu, 29 Sep 2022 10:57:00 +0200 Microplastics may have subtle effects on the placenta https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/microplastics-may-have-subtle-effects-on-the-placenta/ Tiny plastic particles may have subtle effects on the placenta, according to results recently published by researcher Hanna Dusza and her team in the leading journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The researchers call for additional studies to gain a better understanding of the effect of micro- and nanoplastics on the health of the mother and the developing child. Health effects of microplastics still unclear

Previous research has found microplastics in the placentas of pregnant women. But what effect do these tiny plastic particles, with dimensions in the micron and nanometre range, have on the health of the mother and the foetus? A research team from Utrecht University, Dijklander Hospital, Vrije Universiteit, Deltares and Mount Sinai School of Medicine (US) performed a study in a laboratory setting of the uptake and transport of micro- and nanoplastics in placenta cells cultivated outside the body, and the effects on those cells. The researchers observed subtle changes in the expression of genes that are responsible for hormone production and metabolism. The proposal of research is  avaliable in English (choose 'Samenvatting van de aanvraag' under 'Verslagen' on the webpage). Read the Utrecht University press release on the effect of exposure to microplastics from the beginning of human life, and the publication in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Is more knowledge needed about effect of microplastics in placenta?

ZonMw is promoting and funding research into microplastics and health because, as the amount of micro- and nanoplastics in the environment steadily increases, we know little about the potential health risks. Knowledge of the risks posed by microplastics is needed to allow us to prevent damage to health. ZonMw therefore launched its Microplastics and Health programme in 2018. Visit our website to read more about the first 15 completed projects, including the placenta study. You can also read about studies on microplastics in human blood and other research results.

Links to other research

“Research on microplastics and health is like a jigsaw, and this study is an important piece of the puzzle”, explains senior programme manager Frank Pierik of ZonMw. “The knowledge agenda  which we drew up in 2020 indicates the remaining pieces of the puzzle that need to be found. There is a long way to go: besides the 15 breakthrough projects, and the follow-up by the MOMENTUM consortium, we will need to add more pieces to the puzzle to find appropriate solutions.”



news-8991 Wed, 21 Sep 2022 11:09:12 +0200 Ninety per cent of NWO and ZonMw’s research publications are open access https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/ninety-per-cent-of-nwo-and-zonmws-research-publications-are-open-access/ At least 9 out of 10 publications in 2021 resulting from research funded by NWO and ZonMw are available as open access. For NWO, this means an increase of 5% compared to last year. For ZonMw-funded research, the increase is 8%. This is according to the Open Access Monitor conducted by CWTS (Centre for Science and Technology Studies) on behalf of NWO (and ZonMw). The aim is 100%

Both research funders believe that publicly funded research results should be directly and freely accessible. That is why they have been working on their open access policy for the research they fund since 2009. In 2015, they introduced a funding condition requiring publications resulting from research funded by NWO. For ZonMw-funded research, this has applied since 2013. In 2021, both funders have aligned their requirements with Plan S and cOAlition S, a consortium of more than 25 international research funders that aim to accelerate the full transition to immediate open access. Considerable progress has been made, but there is still room for improvement.

Caroline Visser, responsible for Open Science on NWO’s Executive Board: ‘Clearly, we have made great progress since our open access policy was first launched in 2009. Open access has actually become the standard. Ninety per cent is a particularly impressive score, even in an international context. Of course, our goal remains 100%, and we will continue to do what we can to accelerate the transition to the free and open availability of all scientific research.’

Arfan Ikram, chair of ZonMw: ‘These are great numbers. To reach 100%, we will also continue to work at ZonMw in collaboration with relevant parties to make the transition to open access publishing of scientific output. We will facilitate researchers wherever possible to use different open access routes.’

Main conclusions from the analysis by CWTS

•    By 2021, 90% of publications resulting from NWO funding (n=7843) were available as open access, either via the gold route (on the publisher’s platform) or the green route (deposited in a repository). This represents an increase of 5% compared to 2020. For ZonMw (n=1559), it was 91%, an increase of 8% compared to last year.

•    The number of publications in hybrid journals increased considerably in recent years, due to the open access deals universities have negotiated with publishers. The share of publications in full-gold journals also increased dramatically.

•    This edition of the Monitor determined for the first time the share of diamond open access. The international interest in this model has increased greatly in recent years, partly in response to the Diamond OA Journals Study conducted by Science Europe and cOAlition S and the Diamond OA Action Plan. With 2.5% of articles published under the diamond model, the share is still small, but it is promising nonetheless because it is considered a more equitable model as neither authors nor readers face costs.

•    Between scientific domains, there are no major differences in the overall score. The same is true for universities. Leiden University and the University of Groningen score the highest with 94% open access, which can presumably be attributed to these institutions’ progressive use of the Taverne amendment.

•    For the first time, a random examination of the 10% ‘closed’ publications was made as well. These are often publications in which the researcher funded by NWO or ZonMw is the ‘umpteenth’ co-author of an article, whose lead author has an affiliation with a university abroad. This researcher may therefore not always be able to influence the choice to publish open access. These articles should still be made open access under NWO and ZonMw policies, and the report also shows that the vast majority of authors comply with that and share their papers via the institutional repository – albeit sometimes with delays enforced by embargoes. The Rights Retention Strategy developed by cOAlition S can support researchers in immediately sharing these publications via open access.

•    The data underlying the reporting are – to the degree possible – openly available.

Open science as the norm

NWO and ZonMw are strongly committed to to lead the transition to Open Science. Publications resulting from funding by both agencies must be made openly available. . Open Science increases the impact of scientific research. But it also increases the quality and reliability and thus enhances the trust and support for science.

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news-8982 Tue, 20 Sep 2022 10:50:00 +0200 KIC call launched: Safe and healthy food and food systems https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/kic-call-launched-safe-and-healthy-food-and-food-systems/ In recent years, attention for the role of nutrition in relation to (preventive) human health has increased. This is because healthy food and a healthy lifestyle are said to ensure a longer healthy life and can thus extend the healthy life span. Knowledge about food and food systems is necessary

Societal challenges, such as the growing and ageing world population, more chronically ill people, and the growing differences in health between people with different socio-economic positions, make the pursuit of a healthy diet and lifestyle for the current and future population even more important. Moreover, a transition to a sustainable food system is needed. It is therefore necessary to broaden the knowledge of healthy food and food systems.  

Purpose of the call

This call encourages interdisciplinary research into sustainable and innovative food systems that produce healthy and safe food for the current and future population. This research requires an integrated approach to multiple focus areas, in order to achieve a more holistic understanding of healthy and safe food and food systems. This call focuses on 4 areas:

  • Nutrition and health in different population groups
  • Influence of environment on healthy choice behaviour
  • Development of sustainable and healthy food products
  • Food safety, environment and health

When to apply

The deadline for submitting pre-proposals is January 17, 2023. The deadline for submitting full proposals is June 15, 2023.  The maximum duration of the proposed project is 6 years.


On 1 November 2022 NWO will facilitate a matchmaking activity for this call in Utrecht. Participation in this activity is recommended but not mandatory. Matchmaking in the KIC 2020-2023 aims to bring together and connect researchers from different scientific disciplines (alpha, beta, gamma; including universities of applied sciences) and practical organisations in order to develop interdisciplinary research proposals. Further information and the possibility to register for this meeting can be found on this page.  

KIC seeks technological economic opportunities

The NWO research programme KIC focuses on groundbreaking innovative solutions with societal and economic impact. Companies, knowledge institutions and government bodies jointly invest in the commercial application of knowledge to tackle major societal challenges through the use of smart technologies. By doing this, both jobs and income can be secured for the future. This is established in the Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC) 2020-2023 that connects with the Mission-driven Top Sectors and Innovation Policy of the Dutch government. NWO brings together companies and knowledge institutions and funds groundbreaking research based on their innovative, high-impact research proposals.

Within the main line Mission, NWO annually develops several large thematic programmes, which each have a budget of between 5 and 11 million euros: the mission-driven programmes. The choice of subject is determined on the basis of a ranking within the Knowledge and Innovation Agendas. Researchers submit proposals for collaborative projects with a budget of between 750,000 and 4 million euros per proposal.

More information can be found on the website of NWO: Call for proposals: KIC Safe and healthy food and food systems

ZonMw’s role

This research programme connects very well with research that ZonMw programmes and funds within the realm of food, nutrition and health, especially internationally. Please refer to our Dutch website to find out about the specific research we support on the interrelation between food, nutrition, health and the prevention of chronic diseases.  

The Dutch version of the news item is available.



news-8904 Thu, 25 Aug 2022 12:00:00 +0200 Three consortia awarded funding for acceptance and implementation of animal-free models in safety assessment https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/three-consortia-awarded-funding-for-acceptance-and-implementation-of-animal-free-models-in-safety-as/ Within the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) 'Non-animal models: acceptance and implementation', three consortia will research on the acceptance and implementation of existing animal-free models. A total of about € 2.9mln has been awarded for this research. This programme is a collaboration between the Dutch Ministries of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W), Public Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), Defense (Def), ZonMw and NWO. This programme focuses on the acceptance and implementation of existing animal-free models

This programme focuses on the acceptance and implementation of existing animal-free models in the safety assessment of substances for humans with associated legislation and regulations. People are exposed to numerous chemical substances on a daily basis, such as those found in medicines and the environment. In order to protect them against the possible dangers of these substances, a decent safety assessment is necessary. To date, laboratory animals are often used for this purpose. However, this use of laboratory animals is increasingly being criticised, both from a societal and scientific point of view. Think of animal welfare and the translatability of results from animals to people.

To stimulate the animal-free transition in scientific research, this NWA programme focuses on the acceptance and implementation of animal-free models at a regulatory, scientific and societal basis. In this way, we will achieve even more relevant research results for humans without the use of animals

ZonMw is realising this programme in collaboration with NWO.

Three multidisciplinary consortia will contribute to the animal-free transition

In the coming five year, three multidisciplinary consortia will contribute to the animal-free transition. The projects focus on the underlying causes of societal barriers, the acceptance of existing animal-free models by end-users and regulators, and the values of stakeholders and institutions on data from animal-free models. A budget of €955,000 has been set aside for each project.

The projects awarded funding, in alphabetical order, are:

Accelerating the transition to animal-free NGRA: A transformative governance approach
Projectleader: Prof. Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers (Radboud University)
Consortium: Radboud University, Utrecht University, TNO, TenWise, Johns Hopkins University, The Good Lobby, Prof. Howard White (consultant), Unilever, Eurogroup for Animals and PETA UK.
This research project analyzes how the acceleration of the transition to animal-free safety assessment can be governed. The project focuses on Next Generation Risk Assessment (NGRA), and on the transitions to animal-free safety assessment for chemicals and pharmaceuticals in the EU, the Netherlands, and the USA. The transdisciplinary consortium experiments with transformative governance approaches through action research.

Animal-free assays for endocrine disruption – from science to regulatory acceptance
Projectleader: Prof. Juliette Legler (Utrecht University)
Consortium: Utrecht University, RIVM, Charles River, KWR, Proefdiervrij, Maastricht University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Brunel University London, INSERM Montpellier, INSERM Rennes, University of California Irvine, University Miguel Hernandez, PEPPER, OECD, Biopredic, Plastics Europe, Cosmetics Europe and UK Health Safety Agency.
It is not always possible to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) which are harmful to our health. A combination of non-animal models, which jointly measure the effect of substances on hormonal systems in humans, could replace the use of animal testing. Before a model is accepted in regulation, it has to be determined whether it is predictable and reproducible. For this purpose, it must pass through a number of steps that make up the pathways to regulatory acceptance. This project will determine how regulatory acceptance and use of non-animal models for EDCs can be improved.

Valuing Testing: Valuing animal free testing in chemical safety assessments
Projectleader: Dr. Hans Bouwmeester (Wageningen University & Research)
Consortium: Wageningen University & Research, University of Groningen, Rathenau Institute, Shell, Unilever, Dutch Organ-on-Chip consortium and Medicines Evaluation Board of the Netherlands.
Animal-studies remain to be the gold standard to study human safety of chemicals. Several animal-free models have been developed, but more needs to be done to transition to only using animal-free models for these chemical safety studies. In this project we will study the ethical values of stakeholders and institutions and start a citizens dialogue to explore current barriers. We will compare simple cell models and complex models that resemble the liver to explore if these models can be incorporated in safety assessment procedures. Study designs will be discussed with stakeholders to optimize the likely of acceptance of data.

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news-8841 Mon, 25 Jul 2022 10:50:00 +0200 Fifteen talented, young scientists go to foreign institutions with Rubicon grant https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/fifteen-talented-young-scientists-go-to-foreign-institutions-with-rubicon-grant/ Fifteen researchers who have recently received their PhDs can do their research at foreign research institutes thanks to a Rubicon grant from NWO. The Rubicon programme gives young, highly promising researchers the opportunity to gain international research experience. So what are some of the research questions that these 15 researchers will try to answer? In a multidisciplinary team of chemists and engineers, one of the young scientists will investigate whether new gels can be developed that convert carbon dioxide into fuels with the help of electricity. Another study will focus on what makes young people vulnerable to radicalised conspiracy beliefs. And for yet another project, the Rubicon grant will be used to unravel the unknown origins of fast radio bursts from space this.

Research at a foreign institute

For many researchers, experience abroad is an important step in their career. Thanks to the Rubicon grant these young researchers can do their research at a foreign institute that offers the best environment for their research.  

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news-8830 Wed, 20 Jul 2022 09:05:00 +0200 Mosaic 2.0 grant for 13 PhD students https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/mosaic-20-grant-for-13-phd-students/ Thirteen PhD students will start with a Mosaic 2.0 grant for their PhD research. The PhD scholarship programme aims to promote the further development of an inclusive work environment within Dutch universities and is open for the group of graduates with a migration background from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Turkey, who are underrepresented in the Netherlands. The studies cover the entire breadth of science: from timely treatment of asymptomatic heart failure to community care for refugee women who have experienced sexual and gender-based violence.

These are the 8 project that will contribute to medical research and health care innovations:

The involvement of a new B-blood cell in multiple sclerosis
Tom Halperin Msc, Dept. of Anatomy & Neurosciences, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Multiple sclerosis is a severe, neurological disorder affecting young adults and causing cognitive and motoric disability. The cause of the disease is, despite extensive research, still unknown. The researchers will use human tissue from brain and blood donors to investigate how a newly discovered group of immune cells (B1- cells) contribute to the disease progression. In addition, they will use modern biomedical and high-resolution microscopy techniques to characterize these cells inside the brain. Ultimately, the researchers hope to identify new treatment targets for MS.

Care for peer support: organizing community care for refugee women with experiences of sexual and gender based violence
Zahra Khazai MSc, Amsterdam UMC-Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Worldwide the number of refugees is increasing. Refugee women are at continuous risk for experiencing sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), and SGBV has enormous consequences for their health, integration and participation. Refugee women experience barriers in accessing formal care and simultaneously, their social networks are limited. Peer support groups are an accessible way for support and discussing SGBV. Although community care organizations know how to reach these women, barriers exist for structural implementation of peer support groups. In this project, the accessibility of peer support groups for these women and their implementation in care chains will be explored.

Timely recovery after subclinical heart failure (TREASURE)
Zenab Mohseni-Alsalhi MSc, Maastricht University Medical Center+ (MUMC+)
The women specific risk factor preeclampsia (PE) relates to a 2-7 fold increased risk of cardiovascular diseases at a relatively young age. During PE, there is an unfavorable increase in heart muscle mass leading to less compliant heart, a condition preceding clinical heart failure. In almost half of affected women, this impairment does not resolve after delivery. The blood pressure hormone angiotensin plays a central role in the development of this form of heart failure. The TREASURE trail aims to investigate whether asymptomatic HF in formerly preeclamptic women can be reversed by Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors treatment.

Hitting the mark: Introducing Artificial Intelligence and state-of-the-art MRI techniques for Precision Radiotherapy of Glioblastoma
Patrick Tang MSc , Erasmus MC, Rotterdam
Glioblastomas (a highly malignant brain tumor) are notorious for their tumor infiltration, where tumor extends into adjacent normal-appearing brain tissue. As tumor infiltration is not visible on conventional MRI-scans, a safety margin of 1.5-cm is always added to the visible tumor when the target area for radiotherapy is defined. In this research, the aim is to eliminate this one-size-fits-all approach and assess the potential of artificial intelligence and state-of-the-art MRI techniques to more accurately define the target area for each individual patient. By only targeting what needs to be targeted, the development of side-effects caused by radiotherapy could be reduced.

Mind the Body: Investigating and targeting cognitive and affective disturbances in youth social anxiety.
Ruya Akdag MSc, Institute Developmental and Educational Psychology, Leiden University
Adolescents with social anxiety avoid social situations and are often rejected by their peers, resulting in loneliness, low well-being, and low quality of life. To prevent this, the current project investigates whether social anxiety is influenced by cognitive and affective disturbances and whether the regulation of both disturbances via accessible digital interventions can help adolescents learn to cope with their social anxiety.

What is needed for good care around sexuality and reproduction of girls and women in the refugee camp of Mavrovouni on Lesbos?
Dr Jamilah Sherally, Athena Institute Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Girls and women in refugee camps are at high risk of sexual violence, unwanted pregnancy and poor
reproductive and pregnancy care. To find out what is needed to enable good care in the Mavrovouni camp on Lesbos, experiences and opinions of all stakeholders are researched: (1) health problems, needs, experiences and barriers to care among refugees, using a household survey, group interviews and innovative participatory techniques, and (2) experiences and possibilities of care providers through systematic evaluation of facilities and interviews with service providers and stakeholders involved in care organization. Together with all stakeholders, recommendations for improvement are co-created.

Under our skin: the role of somatosensory strategies in optimizing stress regulation at the onset of adolescence
Mercedes Beltrán MSc, Utrecht University
In a world where youth stress levels are rising this project asks an urgent question: How can we help
children and young adolescents cope with stress? This research aims to investigate how certain behaviors (such as self-touch, biting your lips, constant movement or fidgeting) can help to reduce stress and how we can use this knowledge to promote optimal stress regulation in children.

Livebearing fish shed light on the mystery of placental tolerance
Dr Marwa Ahmed, Wageningen University and Research
The tolerance of the immune system to a fetus is puzzling for scientists. The fetus is closely connected to the mother through the placenta and presents itself as part of the father's foreign material to the mother's immune system. An immune response and rejection of the partly foreign body fetus would be expected, but this does not happen during a healthy pregnancy. In this study we want to investigate how this tolerance was created by the immune system during evolution. We investigate this by comparing fish species with and without placenta from the livebearing fish family Poeciliidae.

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news-8818 Thu, 14 Jul 2022 10:19:00 +0200 NWO and ZonMw will award over 60 million euros in additional funding to non-programmed research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/nwo-and-zonmw-will-award-over-60-million-euros-in-additional-funding-to-non-programmed-research/ The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, will make an additional 65.4 million euros available to NWO and ZonMw for the various Open Competitions for non-programmed research. Almost the entire extra budget will be awarded in 2022, in line with the wishes of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf. With effect from 2023, an additional 60 million euros of funding will be made structurally available for the Open Competitions of the domains Science, Social Science and Humanities, Applied and Engineering Sciences and Health Research and Development (ZonMw).

In the coming months, ZonMw will work out how these extra resources will be made available in the current and upcoming rounds of the ZonMw Open Competition and Off Road. We will publish details about this on our program pages on our website.

Read more about the extra resources on the NWO website.

news-8794 Thu, 07 Jul 2022 08:49:29 +0200 Science works! https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/science-works/ Submitting an application to NWO has become easier and less of a burden on researchers. The time it takes to process application procedures has to decrease. And the success rates in the open competition and the talent programme must be at least 25 percent. These are 3 of the 38 ambitions from NWO’s new strategic plan 2023–2026. The new NWO strategy ‘Science works!’ was presented today to Robbert Dijkgraaf, Minister of Education, Culture and Science. ‘NWO has a responsibility to help make science work. The new strategy contains four building blocks that are crucial for a well-functioning system and corresponding ambitions that NWO will work towards in the coming years’, says Marcel Levi, President of NWO’s Executive Board.

‘The Netherlands is doing very well, but we will have to keep working on a science system that optimally facilitates innovation and knowledge development. This also includes focusing on the safety of knowledge and scientists’, Marcel Levi explains about the new strategy. ‘We also want to help reduce the workload for researchers so they can use their time more economically. So they have as much time as possible to do what they are good at: research. This is why a number of ambitions in the strategy aim to make things easier for them.’

More information

Source: NWO

news-8761 Fri, 01 Jul 2022 09:10:00 +0200 101 researchers receive NWO-Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/101-researchers-receive-nwo-vidi-grant-worth-800000-euros/ The Dutch Research Council has awarded 101 experienced researchers, 17 of which fall under the ZonMw field of activity, 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. With the grant the Vidi laureates will do research on a variety of subjects including how strongly does (long-during) smell loss, like we seen with COVID-19, the quality of our relationships and of our own life. The Vidi will also be used to research the pluses and minuses of cannabis for the brain. Another research will focus on how positive interactions between plants can constrain climate change.

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.

More information

news-8755 Tue, 28 Jun 2022 11:33:56 +0200 Slight change of course on the horizon for NWO Talent Scheme https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/slight-change-of-course-on-the-horizon-for-nwo-talent-scheme/ A slight change of course is on the horizon for NWO’s Talent Scheme (Veni, Vidi, Vici). Consultation with the research field has provided NWO with answers that it will use to amend the scheme. For example, the Executive Board recently decided to change the programme’s aim. In addition, a two-stage assessment will be introduced throughout the entire Talent Program starting in Round 2023. The Talent Scheme was due for a review because much has changed in the research field in the past 20 years. Think of the emergence of the ERC, a substantially heavier workload at universities and new insights on how to recognise and reward talented academics differently.

The aim of NWO’s Veni-Vidi-Vici Talent Scheme will be amended as follows: ‘The aim of the NWO Talent Scheme is to provide creative opportunities for adventurous, talented, pioneering researchers to do research of their choice, establish their own line of research and further develop their talent.’

The two-stage assessment is a tiered assessment where the first selection stage takes place on the basis of the narrative CV and the second stage on the basis of the research proposal. The introduction of this assessment in all rounds in 2023 will harmonise the different funding instruments. As a result, researchers will have as many of the same preconditions as possible, regardless of their research domain. The introduction of the mandatory pre-proposal saves both applicants and evaluators a great deal of time. This method also helps to limit the application pressure and reduce the workload of researchers and evaluators. Incidentally, NWO is working on a new version of the narrative CV, the ‘evidence-based CV’, which is currently being further developed and tested.

The revised aim also includes reflecting on the profile of the target groups for this new objective. NWO will further investigate and establish the scope of these groups in the coming six months. It will do this carefully and in consultation with researchers, administrators of knowledge institutions where they work and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the commissioning party of the scheme.

NWO is aware of the potential impact that changes in its Talent Scheme may have on the career paths of researchers. We will therefore communicate about this in a timely manner through various channels. Where necessary, a suitable transitional arrangement will be put in place.

Source: NWO

news-8664 Thu, 02 Jun 2022 11:20:00 +0200 From sustainable food production to reducing viral transmission https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/from-sustainable-food-production-to-reducing-viral-transmission/ Fewer CO2 emissions, less airborne viral transmission, and a more sustainable form of food production: seven consortia of researchers, companies, societal organisations and government bodies will put a budget of 32 million euros towards developing technological innovations for these and other societal challenges. Curious about these innovations? Read more on the NWO website.

Some of the honored projects:

Early prediction of treatment efficacy

MAESTRO: Metabolic Imaging to Improve Patient-Specific Therapy Outcome
Complications related to cancer and obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, have an enormous and still increasing impact on our society and economy. Preventive measures and treatment for these diseases are not always effective. This usually only becomes clear after the patient has received treatment for a longer period of time. The MAESTRO project will develop new, non-invasive, radiation-free imaging technology to improve the patient’s prognosis, quality of life and participation in society and to reduce healthcare costs. This technology will be able to predict early on how effective a lifestyle intervention or treatment will be for a specific patient. The project research will focus on breast cancer, liver metastasis and the preliminary phase of diabetes.

Programme leader: Dr Jeanine Prompers (University Medical Center Utrecht)
Participating knowledge institutions: Amsterdam University Medical Center, Maastricht University Medical Center+, Utrecht University Medical Center
Companies: Advanced MR Analytics AB (AMRA), Boston Scientific, Cambridge Isotope Laboratories (CIL), MedVision360 (MEDrecord), MSD, Philips, Scannexus, Servier, WaveTronica
Other societal partners: Diabetes Vereniging Nederland (DVN), European Coalition for People living with Obesity (ECPO), Patient panel Oncology Center Maastricht University Medical Center+, Stichting Darmkanker, Stichting voor Patiënten met maag- en slokdarmkanker (SPKS)

Preventing airborne transmissions of viruses

MItigation STrategies for Airborne Infection Control (MIST)
Since the global impact of COVID-19, we are acutely aware of the risk of diseases dispersed through the air. Virologists, epidemiologists, fluid mechanics and engineers will join forces in the MIST programme to better understand and prevent airborne viral transmission. Under various conditions, the researchers will study the infectiousness of viruses, the spread of fluid droplets in the air, and the influence of ventilation and the purification of air on the transfer of viruses. They will subsequently translate this knowledge into practical recommendations about which measures can be deployed in the most efficient, cost-effective and sustainable manner in various environments ranging from people at home to hospitals, schools and trains.

Programme leader: Prof. Detlef Lohse (University of Twente)
Participating knowledge institutions: Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, MARIN, Radboud university medical center, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre, TNO, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Amsterdam, University of Twente
Companies: Arcadis, BAM, Carrier, Euromate, Greensol, Hiensch Engineering, Heinen & Hopman, I-Vention Medspray, Novaerus, Philips, PlasmaMade, Signify, Virobuster
Other societal partners: ArtiZ, CCN, KHN, KNHB, KNLTB, NS, PO-raad, REHVA, Rijksvastgoedbedrijf, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Sportinnovator, TVVL, VLR, VO-raad

Fighting arthritis

In the Netherlands, more than 1.5 million people suffer from arthritis – a rheumatic condition of the joints that causes pain, stiffness and difficulty in moving. As arthritis is a condition that mainly occurs among older people, the number of patients is set to increase due to the ageing of Dutch society. At present, there is no adequate treatment for arthritis. The OAinject programme will develop new diagnostic tools that will determine which form of arthritis a person has so that individualised treatments can be offered. The researchers will also work on innovative ways of gradually administering drugs locally over a longer period of time via an injectable drug depot in the joint. With this approach, the consortium will ensure that patients can retain an active lifestyle that helps to prevent other conditions such as cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Programme leader: Prof. Marcel Karperien (University of Twente)
Participating knowledge institutions: Delft University of Technology, Erasmus MC, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Center, Radboud university medical center, University Medical Center Utrecht, University of Twente
Companies: Chondropeptix, DSM Biomedical, IBIS Technologies, InnoCore Pharmaceuticals, 20Med Therapeutics, Nordic Bioscience, Orthros Medical, Procore, QVQ, Ssens
Other societal partners: Deventer Hospital, ReumaNederland, Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing


news-8650 Tue, 24 May 2022 11:43:32 +0200 Baking pies as a metaphor for successful collaboration on antimicrobial resistance https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/baking-pies-as-a-metaphor-for-successful-collaboration-on-antimicrobial-resistance/ On Thursday April 28th 2022 a kick off meeting took place for the projects within the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR) 13th call named ‘HARISSA’. ZonMw took part in organising and hosting the day. During the workshop, each of the nineteen project coordinators or partners presented their project plan for the upcoming years. The presentations were spread over two sessions each lead by a chair. Approximately 45 participants were present during the virtual meeting.

Transmission and intervention

HARISSA is an acronym for ‘‘One Health intervention and Transmission in AMR’’ and is the 13th joint call within JPIAMR. The call mainly focused on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) transmission and interventions. A One Health perspective was required, as well as involving low and middle income countries.

Collaboration is the key to success

From the meeting it became clear that these types of partnerships are crucial to deliver on such complex projects, hence the value of this call and the consortia funded. A wide range of interventions were presented which focused on different topics, from testing and uptake of innovation to public health interventions, to preventing and managing AMR transmission. Besides cost effectiveness, the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration during the projects also became clear.

Lessons learned for the future

Recommendations were made for future funding calls. These included focusing on the need for international guidance and complimentary, as well as coordinated approaches for both in high and low and middle income countries. A wider picture should be considered as well; study interventions in the context of economic as well as health benefits. And lastly, cross project learnings would be important as the consortia are progressing. There even were some early attempts for collaboration between projects made in the meeting.

What is the similarity between pie and antimicrobial resistance?

Overall, the project participants were enthusiastic to hear about other projects and their plan. The process could be compared to baking a cake: the projects are now at the stage where all the ingredients go in and after a few years nineteen beautiful cakes come out of the oven. We very much look forward to the results of these interesting projects.


news-8643 Mon, 23 May 2022 09:11:00 +0200 2022 Veni round 2022 early June open for applications https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/2022-veni-round-2022-early-june-open-for-applications/ Talented, creative researchers who recently obtained their PhDs can soon apply for a Veni. This funding instrument from the NWO Talent Scheme offers researchers individual grants. The funding will enable them to develop their own research idea for the coming three years. The maximum funding amount is 280,000 euros. The 2022 Veni round has nine committees affiliated with the NWO domains. The Science (ENW), Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES) and ZonMW domains each have their own committee. The Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) committee has been divided into six submission committees, one for the review panels for each discipline. All domains have introduced a compulsory pre-proposal phase for the 2022 Veni round; this year is the first time for the ENW domain. Applicants must submit an abridged proposal before the September 2022 deadline. The mandatory pre-proposal means that researchers do not have to write a complete (time-consuming) research proposal immediately.

The introduction of the mandatory pre-proposal saves applicants and reviewers a great deal of time. This approach will therefore help to reduce the application pressure and ease the workload of researchers and reviewers.

The call can now be viewed on the funding pages and is expected to open in early June.

Important dates

The Veni schedule for all domains is as follows:
•    Deadline (mandatory) pre-proposal Tuesday 6 September 2022
•    Deadline detailed applications Tuesday 24 January 2023
•    The decision about the 2022 Veni applications round will take place in June.

The 2022 Veni round is open to researchers who obtained their PhD no more than three years ago on 1 January 2022 (graduation date after 1 January 2019 and before 1 January 2022) and to researchers who obtained their PhD between 1 January 2022 and 6 September 2022. NWO is therefore keeping the target group for the Veni as similar as possible following the delays in the 2020 and 2021 rounds.

Obligatory pre-proposal

The mandatory pre-proposal means that researchers do not have to write a full application right away. The pre-proposal consists of submitting a narrative CV: a description of the applicant’s academic profile and a selection of the most relevant outputs (broader than only publications). This format makes it possible to highlight the special qualities of individual researchers. As a result of feedback from committee members and applicants, the instructions on how to use the narrative CV have been refined in the application form. NWO is working on a new version of the narrative CV, the ‘evidence-based CV’, which is currently being further developed and tested.
In addition to the CV, applicants must also submit a brief outline of their research idea. Based on feedback from committee members and applicants, it was decided to give more space to the research idea in this round. The research idea in the pre-proposal has been extended from 50 to 100 words to give applicants a better opportunity to demonstrate how the idea relates to the profile. The assessment criteria and their weighting remain the same.

NWO evaluates the pre-proposals and selects the final Veni target group: Veni funding is intended for researchers whose qualities clearly surpass those of their international peer group. They may then submit a detailed proposal, which is then assessed.

More information

news-8536 Wed, 20 Apr 2022 14:12:00 +0200 ‘Reflecting on science should become normal practice’ https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/reflecting-on-science-should-become-normal-practice/ The new Promoting Good Science (PGS) programme, which is the follow-up to the Fostering Responsible Research Practices (FRRP) programme, will be chaired by Sally Wyatt. PGS is aimed at encouraging sustainable improvements in the science system. Eduard Klasen is stepping down as former chair of FRRP, and he is confidently passing the baton on to his successor Sally, who wants to involve the broader science domain. You do not practice science just for yourself

Sally Wyatt is Professor of Digital Cultures at Maastricht University and a social scientist in the research fields science, technology and society. As a scientist, she investigates the impact of digitalisation on society and, in the past, also conducted research into open data in science.

‘Issues such as integrity and responsible innovation are important to me and of interest to my research’, says Sally. ‘After all, you do not practice science just for yourself, but for others as well.’ And with “others”, Sally not only refers to fellow scientists and students, but also to society. ‘I believe it is vital that scientists set a good example to both the next generation of scientists and to the general public.’ Her golden rule is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

How ZonMw started to stimulate good science

Eduard Klasen was chair of the FRRP programme from 2016 to 2022. He is the former dean of Leiden University Medical Center and Emeritus Professor of Management of Health Research. ‘It all began in 2012’, recalls Eduard. ‘Back then, articles about the state of scientific research were published with great regularity.’ Issues that came to light in that period included publication pressure, a lack of interdisciplinary collaborations and insufficient attention for the societal impact of research. ‘ZonMw was of the view that research funding bodies should play a role in facilitating good science’, recounts Eduard. ‘However, at the time, there was absolutely nothing in this area, no funds and no plan.’

Under the leadership of Eduard, ZonMw initiated the project “System failures” in 2013 to find out more about the causes, consequences and solutions for system failures (problems in the research system). ‘We visited organisations, experts and deans and documented and learned an awful lot’, recalls Eduard.

Subsequently, the foundation was laid for the FRRP programme. ‘I set up a workgroup together with Lex Bouter, Professor of Research Integrity’, continues Eduard. In 2015, the workgroup reached the conclusion that although there are many theories about factors that influence the science system, very little research had been done into this. The science-wide FRRP programme was established on the basis of this finding. ‘Back then, it was unique but, fortunately, that is no longer the case’, says a satisfied Eduard. ‘Now we have more partners from which we can learn a great deal, such as the Research on Research Institute.

The time is ripe for a follow-up project

Since the start of the FRRP programme, a total of 17 projects and several large research initiatives have been funded. Furthermore, meetings and workshops have been organised. The FRRP projects give insight into what is going well and where improvements are needed to safeguard good science. Examples are improving the peer-review system, setting up training courses in universities of applied sciences about how to carry out responsible research, and encouraging a more balanced evaluation of researchers.

The programme has taken a first and necessary step toward the structural and systematic investigation of the science system. ‘The FRRP programme managed to create a good network’, states Eduard proudly. In addition to this, it has a clear added value with respect to current developments in science, such as Open Science and the new theme Recognition and Rewarding. ‘We took a broad approach and achieved a lot, but we need to step up our efforts even more’, concludes Eduard. ‘I think this presents a fine opportunity for the follow-up project.’

Eduard passes the baton on to Sally

The FRRP programme has been completed and ZonMw is now working towards the follow-up trajectory, namely the Promoting Good Science programme. Eduard worked with considerable pleasure and commitment on the FRRP programme. ‘After so many years, this seems a good moment to stop because otherwise, you run the risk of repeating yourself, and that is not wise, and neither should you want that.’ However, Eduard does not want to disappear from view entirely. ‘This subject is close to my heart, and so I would like to remain in touch with developments.’ Eduard is pleased that he can pass on the responsibility with confidence to Sally. ‘I wish Sally every success and, in particular, much job satisfaction, because it is also a genuinely exciting task.’

Better do to one thing well than try a thousand things

Sally is impressed by everything that has been achieved in recent years. ‘I hope that we can build further upon this’, she says. ‘It is an inspiring, important and interesting subject, and we still have a long way to go.’ Many challenges remain. ‘How will we give this shape for broader science domains, and how will we demonstrate the relevance of the PGW programme?’ asks Sally. ‘We need to take into account that many aspects of good research practices are strongly context-dependent and do not apply to all science disciplines.’ Sally has personally worked with many scientists from different disciplines and knows, like no other, that doing research in a responsible manner is not a universal concept. ‘We need to remain aware of that’, she adds.

Sally is inspired by the positive tone of the FRRP programme. ‘There was much attention for good practices and all the research that is done in a proper manner’, says Sally. ‘I think that this focus will allow us to exert a positive influence.’ Looking toward the future, Sally would like to see that reflecting on science becomes a normal thing to do. ‘Reflecting on your own work and that of others should not be seen as something that is independent of your day-to-day activities’, reasons Sally. ‘As scientists, reflecting is part of our responsibility with respect to ethics, politics and science.’ For the time being, the emphasis is a step-by-step approach. ‘We cannot do everything at once, and so we will need to establish priorities’, states Sally. Or, like Eduard says: ‘It’s better to do one thing well, than to try to bring a thousand things to fruition at the same time.’

The Promoting Good Science programme

The Promoting Good Science (PGS) programme is a follow-up trajectory to the Fostering Responsible Research Practices (FRRP) programme. The FRRP programme investigated science to be able to guarantee robust, qualitatively good and principled research. This involved examining the current science system and culture, such as the way in which scientists give shape to good science, and which problems they encounter in doing this. The FRRP programme started in 2016 and collected knowledge about what constitutes good science and which obstacles it encounters. In the follow-up programme PGW, this knowledge will be used to encourage sustainable system changes in science.

More information

news-8524 Thu, 14 Apr 2022 15:24:08 +0200 Now open! The JPIAMR Call “Diagnostics and Surveillance Networks”. https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/now-open-the-jpiamr-call-diagnostics-and-surveillance-networks/ The aim of this call is to assemble networks of leading experts and stakeholders with an intent to facilitate the development, optimisation, and use of diagnostic and surveillance tools, technologies and systems. Networks should work towards the conceptualisation of ideas in order to provide white papers, guidance documents and/or best practices/roadmaps and evidence frameworks to identify key questions to be addressed and/or potential
solutions to overcome barriers to enhanced surveillance and advanced diagnostics to reduce the burden of AMR.

When will the call open?

The call opens 12th April 2022. Full call text and the link to the online submission platform will be published when the call opens.

Who are participating?

Eleven (11) JPIAMR-ACTION members are participating in this network call to date. Each network coordinator will be able to apply for a maximum of 50,000 euros for a 12 or 24 months period for support of its activities.

What does a network look like?

A network should consist of a minimum of fifteen (15) partners (including coordinator) from at least ten (10) different countries. In addition, at least three (3) of the partners must come from three (3) different countries whose funding agencies are participating in the call. A network must include at least three (3) early career researchers. Please note that JPIAMR Network calls do not fund research projects.

  • The deadline for applicant proposals is June 14th, 2022 at 14.00 (CEST).
  • A webinar about the call is taking place on April 25th at 13.00 (CEST). Please register here.
  • A match-making tool has been created for applicants, to facilitate networking and the creation of consortia. The tool can be consulted for several purposes. The tool will be launched on April 12th, 2022.
  • For more information, activities, and application documentation - please visit the calls webpage
news-8484 Wed, 30 Mar 2022 15:47:00 +0200 Amendments to the General Terms and Conditions Governing Grants of ZonMw https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/amendments-to-the-general-terms-and-conditions-governing-grants-of-zonmw/ As from 1 April 2022, the General Terms and Conditions Governing Grants of ZonMw will be amended with regard to the final accountability reporting by the grant recipient. The biggest change is that from now on, for projects with a grant of €125,000 or more, an audit declaration will be required as a final accountability report. This amendment brings the ZonMw grant conditions into line with the 'Aanwijzingen voor subsidieverstrekking', a set of grant award regulations applying to central government and many independent public bodies. The amended grant conditions can be find here.

We are aware that this amendment will entail additional effort and costs for those involved in projects. However, ZonMw works with public funds and this requires careful accounting procedures. We will continue to make every effort to keep our accountability reporting as manageable as possible.

Applies to new awards

The amendment applies to all grants awarded after 1 April 2022. The final accountability report for grants awarded before 1 April 2022 may be submitted under the rules in the ZonMw grant conditions as adopted in 2013. Auditor’s fees may be claimed as eligible costs up to a specified maximum amount.

Administrative burden in line with grant amount

The starting point for this amendment was to bring the administrative burden for the recipient in line with the grant amount received. The lower the grant amount, the fewer or simpler the conditions, and the more efficient the final accountability reporting.

Any questions?

For any questions, please contact Abdalla Adoly on telephone number +31 70 349 5129 or send an e-mail.

news-8479 Tue, 29 Mar 2022 14:41:32 +0200 Genderful Research World: to integrate sex and gender in your research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/genderful-research-world-to-integrate-sex-and-gender-in-your-research/ In the Summer of 2021, an international team of early career researchers won the ZonMw/CIHR-IGH Gender in Research Award. It allowed the team to bring their innovative idea for supporting health researchers in integrating sex and gender in research to life. Now they proudly present The Genderful Research World (GRW), an interactive online platform designed for health researchers to easily access resources related to integrating a sex- and gender-perspective in their work. The GRW is set up as a map of a landscape describing the various stages of the research process, to provide a playful and fun setting in which to explore various resources. We asked the team about the platform. 1. For whom is the platform designed?

The GRW platform is designed for health researchers at any stage of training or career. We have specifically selected existing best practice resources that would be of interest and relevance to those who are new to exploring the integration of sex and gender into their research work, as well as for more seasoned sex and gender researchers. The resources are tailored for biomedical (fundamental research) and medical/health scientist (clinical and public health research) research phases.

2. What is the added value of your platform?

In considering what problem we wanted to tackle when it came to sharing information about sex and gender with the health research community, it was immediately clear to us that the problem was not the availability of good resources. On the contrary, there are many fantastic, evidence-based, well-designed resources out there but they remain underutilized because they are often difficult to find and lack interactivity. We wanted to eliminate the need for health researchers to comb through many webpages to find the resources that fit their current needs in a fun and interactive way, as well as providing a trusted hub for them to return to in the future.

3. Why have you started developing this platform?

By winning the ZonMw Gender in Research award, we got the chance to realize this idea from paper to prototype. This platform was intended to house a repository of resources, but also to make the process of locating these resources fun, playful, and easy to navigate. We expected the GRW to stick in researcher’s memory and keep them coming back. It was great to see our expectations confirmed by the results our feasibility study, where most health scientist mentioned to come back to the GRW for teaching, research and writing proposals/grants.

4. What makes the integration of sex and gender in research so important?

Integrating a sex and gender perspective in research is important to ensure high-quality, rigourous research. We know enough about the differences biologically between sexes, as well as the sociocultural influences of gender, to know that a 'gender-blind' approach of ignoring sex and gender in research causes inaccurate results and inequitable care. It is a research quality issue, but also a social justice issue.  

5. Where can the reader find more information?

Meet the Genderful Research World Team!

Katelynn Boerner

Postdoctoral research fellow and registered psychologist at the Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada.

‘I wanted to develop this platform as I have suffered from the same challenge so many researchers have - finding the right resources when you need them! Instead of spending hours searching or saving helpful resources where you'll never find them again, the Genderful Research World offers everything you need for all stages of the research process in one fun, interactive place. I also strongly believe that sex- and gendersensitive research is critical to good, equitable science and healthcare, and am proud to be part of efforts to promote that.’

Irene Göttgens

Health scientist and a doctoral researcher at the Department of Primary and Community Care and the Department of Neurology; Center of Expertise for Parkinson & Movement Disorders, Radboudumc, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

‘While there are many valuable resources regarding the integration available, finding those that are relevant for the research phase you are currently in might be an overwhelming exercise for health researchers novel to the concepts of sex and gender. With the GRW we aimed to provide a curated selection of resources relevant for each key research phase as a starting point. To learn; to share; to inspire.’

Lena D. Sialino

PhD researcher in health sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

‘I have a personal passion for equity in health and gained extensive knowledge on sex and gender in health research during my PhD research. I wanted to share this knowledge with other researchers in a fun and easy way, to stimulate this much needed approach in health research.’

Jasmijn Sleutjes

Resident and clinical researcher, finalizing her doctoral degree at the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

‘Although we can’t ignore it in the clinic anymore in this time of personalized medicine, in my research field there is not yet sufficient knowledge and implementation of sex and gender differences. This has motivated me to dive into this topic and inspire others: our Genderful Research World appears to be accessible and fun!’

Natália Valdrighi

Biomedical scientist pursuing her doctoral degree at the Experimental Rheumatology Department, Radboudumc, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

‘From my own experience as biomedical researcher trying to include sex into my research, I was initially unaware of so much resources that are already available regarding the integration of sex and gender. I therefore wanted to develop the Genderful Research World to make it easier to find the right resources, but also to (try to) "educate" other preclinical researches.’

news-8459 Thu, 24 Mar 2022 13:54:00 +0100 Microplastics present in human blood https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/microplastics-present-in-human-blood/ Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that small plastic particles from our living environment are present in the human circulatory system. The research team from VU Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc, published their results today. Cutting edge research results

The results from the study ‘IMMUNOPLAST: Human immunotoxicological consequences of plastic particulate pollution’ (in Dutch) were published in the scientific journal ‘Environment International’. The team of researchers, led by ecotoxicologist Heather Leslie and analytical chemist Marja Lamoree, demonstrated that people take in microplastics from the environment on a daily basis and that the quantities present in their blood can be measured. This is something for which previous indications emerged from earlier laboratory experiments. Read more about this research in the press release from VU Amsterdam.

Follow-up research needed

Frank Pierik, programme manager Microplastics & Health at ZonMw says: ‘We need to realise that these are only the initial findings. There is still a long way to go before a proper risk assessment can be made.’ One follow-up question, for example, is how easily these particles can move from the circulatory system into organs and whether they cause any health effects there.

Microplastics & Health

This research was funded from ZonMw’s programme Microplastics & Health and by Common Seas (United Kingdom). With this programme, ZonMw facilitates the development of knowledge about the possible health effects of small plastic particles and what might be done to limit these effects. All 15 short projects in this programme have now been completed. Next, the researchers from these projects will join forces in the public-private consortium MOMENTUM. Extra follow-up research is also still required in order to predict the health risks of nano- and microplastics and possible solutions for this problem more tangible, as stated in the knowledge agenda published last year. The funding for the 15 ZonMw projects came from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund.

Microplastics and the living environment

Microplastics is one of the subjects in the ZonMw theme Healthy living environment (in Dutch). We seek to provide policymakers and researchers with knowledge and tools so that they, together with other parties, may contribute to current and future societal and scientific challenges concerning a healthy living environment.

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news-8412 Mon, 14 Mar 2022 09:41:16 +0100 ZonMw and NWO fund a research project to improve the measurability of a broad view of health https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-and-nwo-fund-a-research-project-to-improve-the-measurability-of-a-broad-view-of-health/ Health encompasses far more than just the absence of illnesses. A growing number of initiatives stimulate a broader view on health in which people take centre stage. One of those initiatives is the movement Positive Health. But how can you determine whether these initiatives and the policy developed in relation to them actually have an effect? In collaboration with the NWO Domain Social Sciences and Humanities, ZonMw has funded a research project that will develop a measurement tool appropriate for a broad understanding of health. The awarded project will develop a measurement tool to assess t   he health of people in vulnerable situations. This tool can be used at the level of the individual, an organisation as well as a partnership. It can be deployed in experimental settings to objectively determine the effects of healthcare interventions or policy measures with respect to the broad understanding of health. The project will also involve ethical issues to refine and improve the tool and assess the use of the tool in everyday practice.. In addition, a learning network will be established as part of the project to stimulate a proper exchange of insights between policy, research, education and practice.

Follow-up to previous research programming about Quality of Life and Health

This grant is a follow-up to previous incentive activities from ZonMw and NWO concerning the measurement of the quality of life and health. These were presented, for example, at the joint closing conference ‘Quality of Life and Health’ (June 2019, Dutch only) and the discussion platform about the measurement of Positive Health (Dutch only).

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news-8410 Mon, 14 Mar 2022 07:51:33 +0100 Response to questions about the male-female ratio in the ZonMw Vici round 2021 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/response-to-questions-about-the-male-female-ratio-in-the-zonmw-vici-round-2021/ Last week, we announced this year’s recipients of a Vici grant for the Domain Medical Research and Care Innovation. As the grants this year went to six men and not to a single woman, various researchers and advocacy groups have expressed their concern to ZonMw and NWO about this skewed gender balance. We would like to take this opportunity to explain how the procedure was realised and to point out that besides quality, we also took diversity and inclusiveness into account when making the decision. Diversity in our grant-awarding processes

ZonMw and NWO accord great importance to equal opportunities and diversity in their grant-awarding processes. We are aware that bias can play a role in the assessment, and prior to the assessment and selection meetings, we therefore always bring these issues to the attention of our committee members. Past research into the possible gender effects in the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme 2005-2016 (now called the Talent Scheme) has revealed that there was no gender inequality in the Veni, Vidi and Vici grants.

Quality and gender balance

The assessment criteria concern the applicant’s CV, quality of the proposal and the knowledge utilisation described in the proposal. Further, the committee also examines other aspects, such as the gender balance. Consequently, the policy is that in the case of an equal ranking (ex aequo situation) of a male and a female candidate at the selection threshold, the proposal from a female applicant will be accorded the higher ranking. However, in this round, there was no ex aequo situation. After the completion of the interview round with the Vici candidates, it transpired that on the basis of the final ranking and the available budget, only men were eligible for funding. During the selection meeting, the committee extensively discussed the skewed gender balance in a plenary session. The conclusion was that there were no procedural reasons to adjust the ranking. It was mainly the assessment of the research plan and knowledge utilisation that proved crucial for awarding the proposals. Based on the final ranking, the committee ultimately had to conclude that more candidates were eligible for funding than the available budget allowed.

Equal submission and award rates

Two years ago, there was also a skewed gender balance, when six women and not a single man were awarded funding. Figures from the past three rounds reveal a considerable fluctuation in the male-female ratio. However, if we examine the male-female ratio over a longer period, namely 2017-2021, then we can see that for the Domain Health Research and Medical Innovation (ZonMw) an average of 38.6% of the proposals were submitted by women. During the past five years, on average, 38% of the ZonMw Vici grants were awarded to women, and this includes the 2021 round.

Review Talent Scheme

We encourage quality and talent as equally diversity and inclusiveness. We therefore continue to critically examine our assessment and selection processes. In the evaluation of this round and during the review of the NWO Talent Scheme, we will continue to assess a wide range of aspects, including diversity and inclusion. For example, a video about inclusive assessment was recently produced for committee members, and the effect of the coronavirus pandemic years will possibly be examined too.

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news-8362 Mon, 28 Feb 2022 09:15:00 +0100 6 medical scientists receive NWO Vici grants https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/6-medical-scientists-receive-nwo-vici-grants/ 12 prominent scientists from the science domains Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES) and Health and Research Development (ZonMw) are to receive Vici grants worth up to 1.5 million euros. 6 of them will contribute to more insight in diseases and theit treatments. Vici is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands and targets advanced researchers. The Vici grant will enable the laureates to develop an innovative line of research and set up their own research group for a period of five years. The scientists conduct research in different fields. The Vici grant gives them the freedom to propose their own research project for funding. Several laureates will be working on different ways or methods of treating cancer.

Adjusted scheduling

The Vici is awarded annually by NWO. A total of 91 applications were submitted for the AES and ZonMw domains, 12 of which were awarded. These awards concern part 1 of the 2021 Vici round. The Vici awards for the Science (ENW) and Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) domains are expected in mid-March. Due to illness and absence caused by COVID-19, the assessment is taking longer than anticipated. To avoid leaving scientists in suspense any longer, NWO decided to announce the AES and ZonMw grants already. Once all the grants are known, all the figures, facts and funding percentages of this round will follow.

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news-7402 Thu, 17 Feb 2022 11:22:00 +0100 Webinar Series on COVID-19 vaccination in immunocompromised patients https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/webinar-series-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-immunocompromised-patients/ ZonMw is organizing a Zoom Webinar series covering different ongoing studies in the Netherlands that are investigating vaccination against COVID-19 in people with a hampered immune system. The second Webinar will take place on April 4th, 2022. COVID-19 vaccination studies

From January 2021, 8 different studies have been initiated by ZonMw on COVID-19 vaccination in immunocompromised patients. These studies are taking place in different research Institutes within the Netherlands. To enable swift and efficient implementation of study-results ZonMw involves the National Institute for Public Health and Environment, the Ministry of Health and the Health Council of the Netherlands in the ongoing research process.

Together with our clients, policymakers, advisory bodies, researchers, patients, practice professionals, data professionals and international partners, ZonMw is working on possibilities to contribute research and knowledge, now and in the future, to solutions in the fight against the coronavirus and COVID-19 and the its effects on society.

Webinar #2

In this Webinar, projectleaders dr. Virgil Dalm from Erasmus MC and dr. Inger Nijhof from Amsterdam UMC will share results from the VACOPID study: patients with primary immunodeficiencies and the COBRA-KAI study: patients with a haematological condition. Prof. dr. Martijn Luijsterburg will host this Webinar, together with Daniel Warmerdam.

Date and time

4 April 2022, 05:00 - 06:00 PM (GMT +1:00 Amsterdam).

Who can/ should sign up for the webinars?

This Webinar Series is aimed at transferring knowledge to an (inter)national audience of researchers, practitioners, informed patients and policy makers. The Webinar will therefore be offered in English.

Sign up!

> Sign up through the following link

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Updated on: February 21th

news-8307 Thu, 10 Feb 2022 09:34:00 +0100 KWF Dutch Cancer Society and NWO publish a call for research to detect cancer early with technological innovations https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/kwf-dutch-cancer-society-and-nwo-publish-a-call-for-research-to-detect-cancer-early-with-technologi/ Early detection of cancer increases the chance of a better prognosis for the patient. This is not only an enormous benefit for the patient, but also the costs for the healthcare system and the social and economic impact of cancer will be lower. Therefore KWF, NWO and ZonMw invite researchers for research proposals for technological innovations for early detection and diagnosis that meet personal, medical and social needs. We ask researchers to enter into new collaborations with colleagues from various disciplines, healthcare providers and companies. The technological innovations to be developed can be successfully applied if they result in usable products. Possible applications in the research are the smart use of wearables, breathalysers or genetic tests. In these ways, it would be possible to discover whether someone is at risk of developing cancer and what specific diagnosis, intervention or treatment would be required.

The deadline for submitting proposals for this new call for proposals is 10 May. An information and matchmaking meeting will be held on 29 March.

More information can be found on the website of NWO:

news-8135 Thu, 16 Dec 2021 16:46:38 +0100 Systematic reviews of preclinical studies increase transparency and quality of animal research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/systematic-reviews-of-preclinical-studies-increase-transparency-and-quality-of-animal-research/ An impact study published on 13 December 2021 in the journal PLOS ONE reveals that systematic reviews increase the transparency and quality of animal research. Accordingly, systematic reviews contribute to better animal research, increase the quality of medical research and contribute to open science. In 2012, ZonMw started to fund the training, coaching and conduct of systematic reviews for animal research. Better design of animal research

In a systematic review or systematic reviews of animal studies, a researcher creates a thorough and complete overview of all previously published research carried out within a certain subject. Such a systematic review into the design, realisation, results and conclusions of studies reveals the quality of the research realised, the suitability of a certain model, and whether data are missing, amongst other aspects. This knowledge subsequently helps researchers to set up their own animal research and to make a choice for a specific animal model. That can be realised, for example, by investigating which knowledge is already available and which model would be the most suitable for a specific research question. By doing this, the researchers increase the quality of their own research: ‘I was just much more mindful about the blinding, randomisation, the sources of bias. We put an enormous amount of effort into doing that properly’, said one of the researchers interviewed.

Preventing research waste

In addition, researchers who use a systematic review prevent the unnecessary repetition of research (research waste) and increase the chance that animal research is worthwhile and effective (preventing animal waste). The benefit of systematic reviews is broader than merely a better research design and the prevention of animal waste. It leads to better and more transparent research reports and consequently to better drugs and treatments.

Effect on three levels: team, research field and science

Systematic reviews also stimulate more than just the quality of the research with laboratory animals. ‘It made me really more aware of why you [would] want to use animals and in what way. And even though in my own research I would want to do it in a good way, I saw that we also have flaws, and it made me more aware of what you’re actually doing when you’re doing animal research’, states one of the participants from the impact study. The study reveals that researchers who perform a systematic review also acquire an exemplary role in their research team. They share their knowledge about systematic reviews and their new insights on study quality, thus training their colleagues. The coached and trained researchers also make for good ambassadors for better research. Based on their positive experiences, they call for systematic reviews to be performed more often and in greater numbers. With this and their review findings, they inspire colleagues in their research field, e.g., improve model choice, stimulate the conduct of new primary studies and reviews. Finally, by including the method of systematic reviews in the education and training of researchers, systematic reviews can become structurally embedded in scientific research. Research funding bodies and ethics committees could include systematic reviews in the conditions for grant proposals submitted by researchers. This could help systematic reviews become a recurring important instrument for good research and the standard for responsible science.

Better and more reliable animal research

For the impact study, the authors of the article in PLOS ONE disseminated an online questionnaire among project leaders in the ZonMw research programme More Knowledge with Fewer Animals (MKMD). These project leaders had received funding for training and coaching in and the conduct of a systematic review. Furthermore, an in-depth interview was held with eight of these researchers. Although the positive results from the impact study are a consequence of the combination training- coaching-conduct and involve only a limited number of respondents, the conclusions are positive: systematic reviews lead to better animal research and more reliable results. The results of the impact study can be read in PLOS ONE.

Transition to animal-free innovations

With the programme More Knowledge with Fewer Animals, ZonMw is facilitating the transition to innovations without the use of animals and, in so doing, contributes to the TPI platform (Transition Programme for Innovation without the use of animals) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. In addition, the MKMD programme also offers a module for infrastructure. This module was created for the conduct of systematic reviews and to encourage the open access publication of negative or neutral results from animal research. Within this module, researchers can also request funding for a systematic review workshop.

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news-8099 Thu, 09 Dec 2021 14:34:53 +0100 Recap SYMPOSIUM: Microplastics and human health research in The Netherlands – State of the Science https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/recap-symposium-microplastics-and-human-health-research-in-the-netherlands-state-of-the-science/ This publication provides a recap of the online symposium ‘Microplastics and human health research in The Netherlands’ that was held on 4 November 2021. About one hundred researchers and policymakers exchanged knowledge about the latest research results from fifteen breakthrough projects within the ZonMw research programme ‘Microplastics and Health’. Attention was also paid to MOMENTUM, Microplastics & Human Health Consortium, the new public-private consortium that has arisen from the breakout projects. Importance of research

Symposium moderator Juliette Legler opened the symposium with general information about ZonMw’s programme Microplastics & Human Health. Programme manager Frank Pierik provided further details about the programme and emphasised its intended objectives. He drew attention to the impact of microplastics on our health and the importance of health research into micro-and nanoplastics (MNPs). The breakthrough projects will be followed up in MOMENTUM.

Project coordinator Juliette Legler and co-coordinator Dick Vethaak emphasised the size of the consortium, which has 27 partners that come from both industry and research. The three-year funding of MOMENTUM has been provided by ZonMw, TNO, Health~Holland, Top Sectors and private partners such as UMC Utrecht, the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), KWR Water Research Institute, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The consortium will continue health research into microplastics, from a toxicological perspective, starting with the characteristics of MNPs, the exposure scenarios and, finally, the risk assessment.

Effects of small particles

The introduction was followed by an apt double keynote lecture. What can we learn from other disciplines where small particles play a role? Paul Borm (Nanoconsult) gave us insight into the behaviour of small particles from the perspective of nanotechnology. The surface, shape and size of small particles determine their behaviour. It is also important to include the dose and concentration in the final risk assessment.

Flemming Cassee (RIVM/Utrecht University) continued the keynote with the effects small particles have inside our bodies. Nanoplastics reach the internal organs faster than microplastics. However, we still know little about the long-term effects of chronic exposure and the amount of plastics that can accumulate in the body.

Plastic particles in the circulatory system, organs and tissues?

In the subsequent session, the latest research results were presented about the uptake, transport and toxicology of MNPs in cell culture models. Various models must answer the question as to whether and to what extent MNPs reach the circulatory system, human organs and tissues. Heather Leslie (VU Amsterdam) investigated the presence of MNPs in the circulatory system and concluded that follow-up research is needed into plastic particles in the circulatory system. Combined with the initial results from Hanna Dusza (Utrecht University/IRAS) there is a strong indication for the presence of the particles in the placenta and amniotic fluid.

Toxicologist Hans Bouwmeester (Wageningen University and Research) provided a better understanding of the release and transport of chemicals that leach from MNPs, for example in the intestines. The potential risks associated with these chemicals for human health are expected to be significant to such an extent that follow-up research will be necessary. In addition, chronic exposure should be investigated too.

Free-riding pathogens

Besides the danger of MNPs and the possible release of chemicals, another risk is the presence of potential pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi that catch a ride on the surface of the particles. Ana Maria de Roda Husman (RIVM) and Bas van der Zaan (Deltares) are investigating this. Differences in the presence of microorganisms are determined by the site where the microplastics are found. Beach litter proved to be the most microbiologically contaminated. Also, the hygienic conditions make a difference with respect to the encountered number of resistance genes: the genes that bacteria exchange to strengthen their resistance to antibiotics.

The response of the human immune system to the microbes present on microplastics was also investigated. The plastic particles with biofilms, which contain potential pathogens, gave a stronger immune response in a tested cell culture model.

Barbro Melgert (University of Groningen) described the dangers of the lungs being exposed to inhaled clothing fibres. As high exposure to microplastic fibres among textile workers has been associated with the development of lung diseases, the effect of polyester and nylon fibres on the lungs was investigated using model mini lungs (so-called organoids). Nylon or polyester fibres inhibited the growth of the mini lungs. Especially nylon was found to influence the growth phase of the lungs. The cause was found to lie in the chemicals released from the microfibres and therefore not in the nylon fibres themselves.

Effect of ocean plastics on the immune system

After a short break, the symposium continued with a presentation from toxicologist Yvonne Staal (RIVM). She investigated ocean plastics and plastics collected along the coast, and their effects on the human immune system. In the laboratory, immune cells in a cell culture were exposed to a range of ground plastic particles of different sizes.

The conclusion was that the chemical composition, the number of particles and the particle size determine how strongly immune cells respond. The cell-killing effect of the immune system was stimulated the most by the smallest particles, up to 50 µm in size. Also, weathered particles, particles damaged by UV radiation or surface water, elicited a stronger response of immune cells. In particular, the chemical and physical properties of the particles determine the immune cell response.

Microplastics in intestines and lungs

Evita van der Steeg and Ingeborg Kooter (TNO) examined the response of immune cells in the intestines. They developed a 3D intestinal tissue model and a 3D lung epithelial model to investigate the effect of microplastics on human and pig cells. They aimed to answer the question of whether the intestines and lungs can take up microplastics and what the possible biological effects are when this happens. Car tyres, ocean plastic, HDPE, polystyrene and nylon fibres were included in the study. The intestines absorbed about 6% of the tested particles and the lungs 4%. A moderate inflammatory response could be seen in both the lungs and intestines. After just 24 hours, inflammatory proteins were measurable in the intestines in the presence of nylon fibres. The barrier function of the intestines also decreased.

Annemijne van den Berg (Utrecht University, IRAS) and Nienke Vrisekoop (University Medical Center Utrecht) partially confirmed these results and performed additional experiments. Van den Berg discovered that allergic responses might occur after repeated (oral) intake of microplastics. Vrisekoop found that larger plastic particles are more rapidly encapsulated by the immune system than smaller particles but that, in general, not the size but the number of particles determines the strength of the immune response.

Knowledge gaps

The last session focused on creating awareness with respect to existing gaps in research into MNPs. This session started with a keynote lecture and closed with a panel discussion.

Keynote lecture

In his keynote lecture, Bart Koelmans (Wageningen University and Research) emphasised the complexity of the risk assessment for MNPs. The actual risk of exposure to MNPs is difficult to calculate as not all the risk parameters are known. And these include not just the risks of the plastics, but also the chemicals and microorganisms that are associated with these. Koelmans is therefore building a risk assessment model with parameters such as particle size, concentrations, and inhalation, intake and uptake rates. Other important factors are the part of the plastic that is not taken up, tissue size, and the part of the plastic that is excreted via the urine or intestines. To find out what the chemicals do, it is also important to know how many chemicals are released into the intestines during a human life. Excretion and uptake in the intestines play a role too, because plastic particles can release chemicals and pick them up again.

The huge diversity in microplastics and the lack of key data, such as the surface of the particles and internal exposure concentrations, make the development of a risk model enormously complex. Such a model needs to be developed, however, to determine how exposure to microplastics affects human health. The figures in the lab must also be comparable with figures about exposure to microplastics in the air and via the intake of food.

Besides the uncertainty about the figures, there is also no consensus between experts regarding the reliability and use of all data. For example, what are permissible values for human exposure to plastic particles? Until that is clear, no policy can be developed in this area. In a nutshell, there are still many research questions that the MOMENTUM consortium needs to answer.

Panel discussion about the research gaps

Following the poster presentations from the speakers and the private MOMENTUM partners in separate breakout rooms, knowledge gaps took centre stage during the last part of the symposium: the panel discussion. Dick Vethaak moderated discussions between the following panel members: Jeroen Geurts (ZonMw), Bart Koelmans (Wageningen University and Research), Flemming Cassee (RIVM), Paul Borm, Nanoconsult), Jane Muncke (Food Packaging Forum Australia), Lukas Kenner (Institute for Cancer Research Vienna) and Ardi Dortmans (TNO).

After a brief introduction from each panel member and their own input for the discussion, the panel members discussed the next steps in health research into MNPs. They also elaborated on the questions and uncertainties that emerged during the discussion.

"We should focus on prevention"

Ardi Dortmans (TNO) emphasised the importance of translating research results into realistic information for people. Plastics are everywhere, and so everybody is continuously exposed to these. Despite this, the expected health risk at the individual level is not that great, but it is at the population level. According to Dortmans, we should therefore focus on prevention, in other words, how can we reduce the huge amount of plastic waste? He suggests, for example, new, reusable production possibilities for plastics.

More research needed into the biological effects of nano- and microplastics

According to Flemming Cassee (RIVM) and Paul Borm (Nanoconsult) there are still many unknown biological effects of MNPs, and we cannot proceed further until we know these. Information about chronic exposure is one such example. Many panel members agreed with this. With his keynote lecture, Bart Koelmans (WUR) had already clearly stated the knowledge gaps in this area. The first step is understanding the biological mechanisms and concentrations in the tissues before something can be said about the risks. Further research is needed to acquire this understanding.

Follow-up research is also needed because much of the knowledge in the literature, about 83%, is concerned with health research into polystyrene MNPs that are mainly used in packaging material. However, many more different types of plastic are present in our drinking water, food and the air. Consequently, too little data is available about the various MNPs to be able to properly set up the risk assessment.

Finally, Jeroen Geurts (ZonMw) added that the knowledge agenda ‘What do microplastics do in our body?’ clearly lists the knowledge needs for research, policy and innovation. The agenda also describes a strategy to develop applicable knowledge.

How can humans reduce the many plastics in the environment?

The discussion continued by stating that research into MNPs needs to be placed in a broader context because it not only concerns human health. How can people reduce the many plastics in the environment to satisfy the climate objectives of 2050 as well? One of the solutions is to reduce (food) consumption and with that plastic packaging, emphasised Jane Muncke (Food Packaging Forum). This can be achieved by, on the one hand, using less plastic and, on the other, by increasing recycling and reuse.

But, and that was possibly the most important conclusion, we will need to switch to entirely new materials as a substitute for plastic to reduce the accumulation of especially the smallest particles in the environment and the human body. Degradable polymers could possibly be the future, and so a collaboration with chemists who contribute their ideas is indispensable.

Closing remarks

Juliette Legler closed the symposium with the final conclusion that follow-up research into MNPs is needed to bridge the knowledge gaps identified. She thanked the keynote speakers, Flemming Cassee and Paul Borm, for sharing their knowledge about the research field of small nanoparticles, and Bart Koelmans for the first concrete steps towards risk assessment.

All of this information is highly relevant to establish the risks to human health. Juliette also briefly summarised the research results and the role of the MOMENTUM consortium in following up on these.

National and international collaborations are vital for fully describing the risk assessment and dangers of MNPs. Juliette called on MOMENTUM participants to establish the necessary collaborations with European projects. Finally, the participants were invited to the informal virtual drinks and networking and thanked for their attendance.

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news-8098 Sun, 14 Nov 2021 14:20:00 +0100 Follow-up research into the health risks of microplastics needed https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/follow-up-research-into-the-health-risks-of-microplastics-needed/ This article shows that the impact of nano- and microplastics on human health is still largely unknown. Follow-up research is therefore needed because for decades, people have come into contact with the small plastic particles in their living environment via the air, water and food. These small particles vary in size from nanometres to micrometres. Health damage in people and animals

It has already become clear that these particles, albeit at high concentrations, can cause health damage (toxicity of particles) in animals. Furthermore, these particles might introduce harmful chemical substances or pathogens into the body.

Within the ZonMw programme Microplastics & Health the effects of microplastics on human health have been explored in 15 projects. All of the projects started in 2019 and the initial results are now known. Experimental human material or laboratory animals were exposed to micro- and nanoplastics. This revealed that small plastic particles can pass through the intestinal wall, lungs, placenta and even the blood-brain barrier. They also appear to disrupt the functioning of the different body cells of these organs. In some instances, inflammatory responses occur too.

Reduced gastrointestinal function

Plastic particles can enter the body and come into contact with the intestines via the food chain, for example when people eat fish and shellfish. For a long time, the effect on our intestinal health remained unclear, but now the first results are emerging. Short-term exposure to plastic particles between 1 and 10 µm in size can cause a decrease in the functioning of the large intestine. Sometimes, the particles influenced the viability of the cells and the permeability (tested on human and pig cells) too, but only at high concentrations. The plastics HDPE and nylon were also found to cause a decrease in the barrier function of the intestines. As a result of this, the permeability of the cells increased.

The plastic polystyrene was likewise capable of doing this and could be seen inside the intestines within just 5 hours of exposure. About 6% of the tested particles were absorbed by the intestines. Particles of 10 µm passed through the intestinal membrane easiest due to the large influence they exerted on the permeability of the intestine.

Chemical substances in the intestine

Ingesting food increases the exposure of our intestines to micro- and nanoplastics. That can cause chemical substances to be released, such as softening agents and flame retardants, which can also become part of our food via packaging material. No less than 183 such chemicals were present in microplastic litter on the beach.

The latest results from the intestines projects reveal that these chemicals, which adhere to the microplastics, can pass through the intestinal wall. This concerns potentially toxic organic compounds, such as persistent organic pollutants that are produced by humans. These substances, in addition to metals, were found on microplastics on the beach. About 22 chemicals could pass through the intestinal epithelium when these were tested in a cell culture model. Some reached the innermost part of the intestines, and others reached organs of the gastrointestinal tract.

Altogether 18 of the above-mentioned 22 chemicals influenced molecular and cellular processes in such a manner that undesirable pathways were initiated that could give rise to a disrupted tissue function and/or hormone balance. On a side note, exposure in humans was not included in this experiment, and so it is not clear whether the tested amounts of microplastics in the gastrointestinal model provide a realistic outcome. The exposed quantities might, in reality, be lower, but that exposure is chronic.

Inflammatory responses

In the blood, the macrophages (a certain type of immune cell that normally engulfs pathogens) become extra active in response to microplastics. This means that inflammatory responses could occur. Due to the presence of microplastics in the intestines, inflammatory proteins were also activated. However, that was not always the case because that depended on the type of plastic tested. Polystyrene, in particular, was found to activate inflammatory proteins, for example. In addition, certain immune cells from the adaptive immune system are extra active in response to polystyrene. Researchers noticed that ‘weathered’ plastic particles damaged by UV radiation and surface water caused a larger response from body cells.

Disrupted lung function

The lungs also experience negative influences from the presence of microplastics. In the lungs, almost 4% of a high concentration of polystyrene nanoplastics passed through the tissue. This type of plastic could already be seen in the lungs within 24 hours. A moderate inflammatory response was observed in the lungs as well.

As the high exposure of textile workers to microplastic fibres has been correlated with the development of lung diseases, the effect of polyester and nylon fibres on the lungs was investigated too. That took place in two simulated mini lungs. Lung epithelial tissue from both mice and humans was investigated. Particles of 15 and 10 µm were taken up by the respiratory passages. The smallest particles of 5 µm even reached the lung vesicles at the end of the bronchioles. The result was that the mini lungs grew less well or repaired less well after damage.

Harmful chemicals from nylon fibres

Nylon fibres, in particular, inhibited the growth of the lungs. The next question was whether this inhibition was the consequence of the nylon fibres or the chemicals leaching  from these. Chemicals that leach from the fibres were found to inhibit the growth. Further, as previously stated, a moderate inflammatory response was observed in the presence of nylon fibres. Nylon therefore directly affects the development of the mini lungs, a result that deserves further research.

Encapsulation by immune cells

The immune system also responds to microplastics. Immune cells view microplastics as foreign particles. In consequence, they respond to these in the same way as they would to pathogens: certain immune cells encapsulate particles to break them down. However, the researchers discovered that they only do that if they are surrounded by blood proteins. If not, the immune cells leave the particles alone.

The effect of exposure to microplastics via the skin was likewise investigated. Immune cells in the skin become active and respond mainly to weathered plastic particles, which are particles damaged by UV radiation and surface water. Subsequently, they activate the attackers of the immune system, the T-cells, which initiate a range of inflammatory responses. The size of the particles does not particularly matter: the immune cells devoured particles of variable sizes. The smallest particles did, nevertheless, cause the strongest response.

Allergic reaction

Further, it has become clear that dendritic cells, certain first-line immune cells active in mainly the skin, responded more strongly as soon as they came into contact again with plastic particles. This points to the development of an allergy to microplastics: the researchers do not exclude the possibility that this could arise after repeated exposure to plastics.

In follow-up research, multiple microorganisms and their microbial components such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and endotoxins should be tested. It is also important to test the response of the immune system after plastic ingestion in the case of intestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Ocean plastic and the immune system

The response of the immune system depends on the type of plastic and whether or not this is weathered. That was revealed by research in which use was made of plastics collected in the ocean and on the coast, which were ground into a range of microplastics in the lab. Four different types of plastics were investigated with a size of between 20 and 200 µm. The chemical composition, the number of particles and the particle size determine how vigorously immune cells respond. The most recent results reveal that the smallest particles, from 20 to 50 µm, most strongly stimulate the cell-killing effect of the immune system. In the follow-up research, the scientists want to test more inflammatory substances and measure the immune cells’ response to particles that possibly contain pathogens.

Inhibition of brain enzyme

Experiments with rodents and brain cell cultures revealed that nanoplastics can reach the brain and also pass through the blood-brain barrier. There they even influence the communication between immune cells: they inhibit an important enzyme that is necessary for the communication between brain cells. The further effect on the functioning of the brain is limited, or has not yet been demonstrated due to the short duration of the experiment. For this reason, follow-up research into the long-term effects of nanoplastics on the brain is necessary.

Plastic particles in human blood, placenta and amniotic fluid

The researchers are still examining whether and to what extent plastic particles are present in the human placenta, amniotic fluid and blood. As only a few samples have been tested, the researchers are cautious about drawing the conclusion that plastic particles are present (in measurable concentrations) in the blood circulation and foetal environment. However, the uptake of smaller microplastics and nanoplastics by placenta cells has been demonstrated in a laboratory setting.

Damage to placenta cells

In vitro experiments were carried out with a human placenta cell model. After just 1 to 2 hours, microplastics were visible in the placenta and especially the smallest particles were quickly absorbed by the placenta cells. Both the particles and any chemicals leaching out of these can cause damage to the foetal environment.

It was likewise demonstrated that the expression of a specific gene changed under the influence of pristine or clean microplastics. That gene codes for a protein that plays a role in female hormone production. The implications of this still need to be further investigated. Researchers will also further examine the different types of weathered and clean microplastics and their uptake and transport in the placenta. Possible hormone disruptions and the effect on the immune system will be included in this study.

Pathogens on microplastics

In surface water, microplastics are also a good carrier of pathogens such as bacteria. These pathogens adhere to microplastics in the water, can be transported over large distances and form a danger to public health. The River Rhine was sampled at both the coast and the German border to investigate this. Different plastics were collected with more than 200,000 particles per m3 of water. Potential pathogens and plastic decomposing bacteria were found on these particles.

In another project, microplastics were exposed to water that came from a wastewater treatment plant. The plastics were found to be microbiologically contaminated, which could be seen from the presence of the many genes that render bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Particles in these dirty environments had more resistance genes than particles collected at clean locations. Also, particles to which microorganisms from the environment adhered elicited a strong immune response. From all particles tested, the most contaminated particles originated from the environment. Particles with biofilms - that contained algae and potential pathogens – gave a stronger immune response in the tested cell culture model. For particles of 10 and 90 µm a strong immune response was observed, but this was not the case for a far smaller particle size of 1 µm. Follow-up research is needed with a controlled exposure in the lab for a fixed period of time. It is likewise necessary to further test exposure to different particles and the pathogens these carry from the environment.

Worrying results

In short, these initial results of the effect of micro-and nanoplastics in the body indicate how urgent and relevant further research is. In many cases, it is still difficult to translate the results to people. That is mainly because a good risk assessment does not exist yet. Toxicologists are working on a risk assessment model so that the risk of plastic intake via food, air or water can be precisely analysed. Nevertheless, despite the fact that there is still a lot of uncertainty in the interpretation of the initial laboratory results, the outcomes are worrying. That is also due to the fact that the amount of small particles in the living environment continues to increase. And because, for example, research into particulate matter, which contains plastic particles, reveals that small particles enter our body and can lead to health effects there.

It is clear that nano- and microplastics can undoubtedly have a negative influence on human health, but to what extent and in which situations that applies is difficult to establish because the risk assessment is still missing. The breakthrough projects will be continued in the new public-private consortium MOMENTUM. However, further follow-up research is necessary to make the actual health risks and possible solutions more tangible. The results included in this article are those that the researchers presented during the symposium organised by MOMENTUM and ZonMw on 4 November 2021. You can read more about the research in our webpage about the health effects of microplastics.

Would you like to receive more information about microplastics and health? Then please contact us via MicroplasticsHealth@zonmw.nl.

>Dit bericht is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

news-7994 Tue, 09 Nov 2021 15:03:41 +0100 Jeroen Geurts new Rector Magnificus VU Amsterdam https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/jeroen-geurts-new-rector-magnificus-vu-amsterdam-1/ Prof. dr. Dr Jeroen Geurts will be appointed Rector Magnificus of the VU University in Amsterdam with effect from 15 January 2022. Jeroen Geurts was chair of ZonMw from January 2017 and member of the board of NWO. The board and employees of ZonMw and NWO warmly congratulate him on his appointment. In the coming period, Jeroen Geurts will finalise his work at ZonMw and NWO and hand it over to Vice-Chairman Prof. Dr. Huib Pols, who will fullfill the position of acting chair until a new chair is appointed.

Commitment to health research innovation

ZonMw is deeply indebted to Jeroen Geurts for his great and inspiring efforts. Jeroen Geurts has committed to innovating health research with spearheads such as team science, interdisciplinarity, more consortium funding and recognizing and rewards. The ambitious new policy plan 2020-2024 of ZonMw was also drawn up under his chairmanship. “I have worked with great enthusiasm, together with ZonMw and NWO, for a new impetus in financing scientific research and a more inclusive and sustainable way of financing,” says Jeroen Geurts. Soon Jeroen Geurts will look back on his term as board member in an extensive interview.

news-7907 Wed, 27 Oct 2021 11:39:32 +0200 26 projects to stimulate open science https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/26-projects-to-stimulate-open-science/ Twenty-six projects related to open science are set to receive a financial stimulus of up to 50,000 euros. It concerns projects that focus on innovative ways of (open) publishing, sharing FAIR data as well as software, or projects that help drive the culture change needed to achieve open science. ‘The Open Science Fund is an important next step in recognising and valuing open research practices,’ says Caroline Visser, who is responsible for open science on NWO’s Executive Board. The awarded projects cover a broad range of new open science practices. Some focus on developing new tools and software for data visualisation, such as the Raincloudplots 2.0 project by professor Rogier Kievit (Radboud University) or on anonymising open text data, as in the project by Dr Bennett Kleinberg (Tilburg University). Other projects aim to promote the interoperability of data by developing standards, as Dr Rombert Stapel (KNAW/IISG) will do in his CLAIR-HD project for the discipline of historical demography. Yet another category aims to promote the culture change needed for open science. The Open Science Escape Room by Dr Anita Eerland (Radboud University) introduces researchers to the benefits and challenges of open science in a playful way.

More information

  • An overview of all projects is available here

news-7897 Tue, 26 Oct 2021 14:31:43 +0200 Gravitation consortium participates in mapping the brain motor cortex region https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/gravitation-consortium-participates-in-mapping-the-brain-motor-cortex-region/ Two co-leaders of the Brainscapes consortium that is funded by NWO’s Gravitation grant, have contributed to successfully map the different cell types of the motor cortex and other cortical areas in the brain. Nature published a special edition with the results of this international BRAIN initiative Cell Census Network. De results showcase how geneticists, bioinformaticians and neuroscientists collaborate with the ultimate aim to develop better treatments for brain diseases. Two co-leaders of Brainscapes, Huib Mansvelder (VU) and Boudewijn Lelieveldt (LUMC) take part in a major international study called the BRAIN initiative Cell Census Network, worth more than 4 billion dollars, of which the goal is to map all brain cells of several species including human. Nature has devoted a special 17-paper issue to describe the first BICCN’s findings covering the motor cortex, including 2 papers to which Mansvelder and Lelieveldt contributed with their specific functional and informatics expertise, respectively. These accomplishments showcase the envisioned collaboration between several Dutch and international institutes to unify the informatics and neuroscience research field for the development of treatment for brain diseases.


The aim of Brainscapes is to map in detail the biological mechanisms underlying multiple brain disorders ('brainscaping'). Recent genetic discovery studies have provided more insight into the genes involved in brain disorders. The next step is to use this knowledge for gaining mechanistic disease insight, though an extremely complex task to fulfill due to the involvement of many different research fields that all speak their own language.

Brainscapes is therefore dedicated to bring together geneticists, bioinformaticians and neuroscientists to develop novel analytic and experimental tools to study the functional consequences of risk genes on the function of specific cells, their circuits and functional output. This all in the context of brain diseases, ultimately with the identification of novel drug targets.

Neuroscientific contribution

VU scientist Huib Mansvelder and his team, together with neurosurgeons from the VUmc, worked on a study of living neurons from brain tissue donated by patients from neurosurgical operations to treat epilepsy or brain tumors. To typify brain cells, the molecular signature of gene expression was determined for each cell individually. The human brain contains about 86 billion nerve cells and to determine the expression of ten thousand genes or more from each cell individually is an exciting challenge. The study to which Mansvelder and team contributed goes a step further, namely by studying the consequences of gene expression for cell shape and function of the mapped cell types. Mansvelder: “We find that these evolutionarily developed parts of the human brain contain cell types that cannot be seen in mice. The increased molecular diversity in humans is reflected in the diversity in the shape and function of the cells. The more 'human-specific' brain cell types are among the first to disappear in Alzheimer's disease."

Informatics contribution

Where Mansvelder is a pioneer in designing and applying revolutionizing functional methods, Leliveldt is a pioneer in the development of informatics tools. In collaboration with another Brainscapes member from TU Delft, Thomas Höllt, Lelieveldt made a key contribution to the data visualization of a study establishing the relationship between gene, expression, regulation and the DNA 3D structure of 300,000 individual brain cells to create a kind of cellular periodic table. “Our main challenge was displaying very complex data in a way that any hidden information within it can be interpreted more easily ‘as if it were a picture book’”, explains Thomas Höllt of TU Delft.

Brainscapes collaborative efforts

"You can compare this whole special issue a bit to a mission to Mars, where we have been asked to develop a few parts for the rocket. In the grand scheme of things, our contribution is a small one - but it was still a tremendous honor - and now we got to witness the aircraft land," Lelieveldt explains. The impact of this special BICCN issue will be huge in the field of neuroscience, including the research performed within the scope of Brainscapes. The BICCN-related Dutch collaborative efforts are just a small part of Brainscapes. In addition to LUMC, TU Delft and VU, also UMCU Utrecht, Amsterdam UMC, and the Hubrecht institute are actively working together to bridge the gap between genetics and neuroscience. Considering that the start of 10-year Brainscapes project was less than 2 years ago, more extraordinary collaborative efforts with mind-blowing results are definitely expected.

More information





news-7874 Thu, 21 Oct 2021 15:47:02 +0200 Infographic: International Call https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/infographic-international-call/ Within ZonMw, international collaboration is increasingly important. This leads to a large group of Dutch scientists taking part in international Calls for the first time. International calls for proposals however follow a different procedure than the standard ZonMw calls. To explain this we have developed an infographic, which provides insight into the basic steps of an international Call.

If you are planning to join an consortium to submit a (pre)proposal for an international call, or if you’re just curious about the procedure steps of an international call, you can view the infographic here. An animation of this process will also be available soon. Stay tuned!

View the infographic

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news-8100 Tue, 19 Oct 2021 14:45:00 +0200 MOMENTUM: structured research into health effects of microplastics https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/momentum-structured-research-into-health-effects-of-microplastics/ What happens if microplastics enter the human body? Do these accumulate and could that have harmful consequences? The public-private consortium MOMENTUM will investigate these questions in the coming years. Why is research into microplastics so urgent?

Even if the industry were to stop the production of new plastics now, the quantity of microplastics would continue to increase in the coming years. That is because a lot of plastic is already present in the environment, which is still in the process of decomposing into small particles.

Dick Vethaak is a toxicologist at Deltares and co-project leader of MOMENTUM: ‘There is a lot of attention for plastic waste in the environment such as bottles and packaging. However, indoors we are mainly exposed to other plastic particles from polymer paints or textile fibres.’ Plastics often contain a range of additives. For many of these additives, we hardly know how toxic these are. Small plastic particles spread easily: just like the natural fibres of cotton. ‘But plastics scarcely break down and instead decompose into increasingly smaller particles. As a result of this, they accumulate in the environment and in the food chain’, adds Dick.

Collaboration in a consortium MOMENTUM

Universities, institutes and companies are working together in this consortium that is funded by ZonMw, Top Sector Life Sciences & Health, TNO, government ministries and companies. The research builds further upon the 15 one-year breakthrough projects in the programme Microplastics & Health, which ZonMw funded in 2019.

For the next three years, MOMENTUM has a budget of 5.4 million euros available to organise follow-up studies. For ZonMw, participation in the consortium is a logical step; it fits within the ZonMw-wide subject ‘Healthy living environment’. This is a subject ZonMw has recently strengthened its programming efforts.

The design of MOMENTUM

‘We have named the project MOMENTUM because it must be like a train in continuous motion’, says Juliette Legler, Professor of Toxicology at Utrecht University and also co-project leader. ‘It is a project for the long term; a movement from the breakthrough projects towards an infrastructure for first-class research and solutions for the problem of microplastics. Alongside MOMENTUM, the European Commission also currently funds two Horizon 2020 projects at Utrecht University, because this is such a big subject that we cannot tackle it with MOMENTUM alone. There is already international interest.’

It proved to be a challenge to combine the most promising results from the 15 breakthrough projects into a single new project. And to subsequently obtain contributions from the private sector and research organisations. Juliette: ‘We have realised a unique public-private partnership. This is not just a fundamental research project; we are thinking about the future and how we can get rid of the problem of microplastics. But also about applications, solutions and risk assessment.’

Knowledge agenda microplastics provides guidance

In January 2021, ZonMw presented the knowledge agenda ‘What do microplastics do in our body?’ to the state secretary for infrastructure and water Management, Stientje van Veldhoven. Dick was one of the contributors to that agenda: ‘The knowledge agenda constitutes a script and provides recommendations and routes along which we can work the next 10 to 15 years.’

The Netherlands is a trailblazer in research into the health effects of microplastics. Juliette has the following to say on this point: ‘As far as I know, ZonMw is the first research council in the world to have invested in human health effects. ZonMw does not just focus on drugs and therapy, but also on the prevention of disease through environmental factors. The Netherlands has therefore acquired a leading role in this respect.’

What do we know about microplastics and what do we still need to discover?

Researchers compare the smallest plastic particles with nanoparticles. It is known that these can lead to inflammatory responses and DNA damage. In addition, it seems likely that the smaller microplastics, which we are exposed to every day via the air, food and water, pass through the epithelium of the lungs and intestines and are taken up in the blood and brain. These particles can also carry bacteria and viruses with them, which they introduce into the body. Recently, it has been demonstrated that microplastics are present in the placenta of an unborn child with as yet unknown consequences.

Some people already have plastic particles in their body, for example due to the decomposition of plastic prostheses or breast implants. Over the next three years, it will become clearer at which concentrations effects occur and whether these constitute a risk. ‘I hope that in three years’ time, we can make a distinction between the harmful and harmless properties of microplastics. And that means that we will not just bring bad news but solutions as well’, according to a hopeful Juliette.

Research also needed beyond the three-year period

For the time being, MOMENTUM is being funded for three years. But it is already clear that follow-up research will be needed after this period too.

Dick explains: ‘It is not realistic to expect any applications during the first three years. We are mainly working with the private partners to find solutions and to put together an action plan for the next 10 or 15 years. I certainly expect that there will be a new financial injection to continue the research. We cannot burden future generations with our plastic problem. Even if we should conclude in three years’ time that the concentration of plastic particles in our bodies is relatively low, then you still need to think about the consequences several decades from now.’

Communication with the wider public will be a fixed element in MOMENTUM, says Juliette: ‘We want to make it clear what we are doing and how we do research. And that we not only work with researchers, but also with plastic producers, companies developing new techniques and civil society organisations who have an interest in the results of our research. In other words, that it is a real team effort!’

Broader context of microplastics

Microplastics and health is part of the ZonMw-wide subject Healthy living environment. To contribute to human health, ZonMw enables the development and application of knowledge regarding the health effects of the living environment.

More information

> Klik hier voor Nederlands

news-7833 Mon, 11 Oct 2021 16:42:56 +0200 Joining forces for COVID-19 vaccination in patients with a compromised immune system https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/joining-forces-for-covid-19-vaccination-in-patients-with-a-compromised-immune-system/ In the beginning of 2021, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) launched eight different studies on the effects of COVID-19 vaccinations in immune compromised patients. Various knowledge partners are currently working in consortia on these studies. To ensure fast and effective implementation of the research results, ZonMw is working together with the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and informs the Health Council of the Netherlands. news-7826 Fri, 08 Oct 2021 15:40:16 +0200 24 Starting science talents go to top foreign institutions thanks to Rubicon https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/24-starting-science-talents-go-to-top-foreign-institutions-thanks-to-rubicon/ 24 researchers who have recently received their PhDs can do their research at foreign research institutes thanks to a Rubicon grant from NWO. The Rubicon programme gives young, highly promising researchers the opportunity to gain international research experience. They investigate, amongst others, why the gender pay gap has stopped decreasing and the effect of synthetic chemicals on biodiversity. Another researcher tests whether social-cognitive processes, defender-/victim characteristics and norms contribute to successful defending against bullying.

Read the full news article on the NWO website.

The following projects will contribute to medical science and healthcare innovation:

Fishing for the causes of neurodegeneration

D.E.M. de Bakker MSc (Dennis), Utrecht University -> Germany -> Leibniz Institute on Ageing, Jena -> 24 months

Biologists will study neurodegeneration in killifish, the only species known to lose neurons with ageing like humans. Through comparing, cutting and pasting in fish DNA, the researchers hope to identify how variations in DNA cause neurodegeneration in fish and humans.

Manipulating how bone becomes hard

Dr. S.J.P. Callens (Sebastien), TU Delft -> United Kingdom -> Imperial College London -> 24 months

It is still not entirely clear how bone mineralization depends on environmental factors. The researcher will use advanced techniques to study the role of geometry on this process, and how this could be leveraged to spatiotemporally manipulate mineralization in biomaterials.

The effect of dorsal root ganglion stimulation on the firing pattern of nerve cells in the spinal cord and treatment of neuropathic pain

Dr. G. Franken (Glenn), Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+) -> United Kingdom -> King’s College London -> 12 months

The Netherlands Chronic neuropathic pain is often induced by a disturbed firing pattern of the nerve cells in the spinal cord, which therefore constantly send pain signals to the brain. We will investigate if electrical stimulation of the dorsal root ganglion can decrease this disturbed firing pattern and treat chronic neuropathic pain.

How does the brain predict the future from the past?

M. Fritsche PhD (Mats), Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour -> United Kingdom -> Oxford University -> 24 months

When making decisions, the brain not only relies on information from the senses, but also on its own predictions. Here, the researchers will measure and manipulate the neurotransmitter dopamine in mice to understand how the brain forms such predictions.

Does the wonder drug fulfill its promises in diabetics with heart failure?

E.L. Fu BSc (Edouard), Leiden University Medical Center -> United States of America, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Department of Medicine, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics -> 24 months

SGLT2 inhibitors are a breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes and heart failure. The first investigations do not paint the whole picture. Therefore, the researcher will use big data to investigate how effective and safe these medications are in practice.

In or out of touch with yourself: basic mechanisms of self-other-distinction

Dr. R Kaldewaij (Reinoud), Radboud University -> Sweden -> Centre for Social and Affective Neuroscience, Linköping University -> 24 months

How does touch help us with experiencing our body as our own? Using brain and spinal cord imaging, this study investigates the difference between being touched by ourselves and by someone else - and how ketamine changes this.

Uncovering the logistics of molecular traffic in the human brain during health and disease

Dr. F.W. Lindhout (Feline), University of Utrecht -> United Kingdom -> MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), Cambridge -> 24 months

Perturbed logistics of molecular traffic in brain cells cause neurological disease. Today’s scientific insights on these processes mainly come from animal research, but is this translatable to humans? Scientists will now investigate this timely question using human lab-grown brain tissues.

Boosting De novo NAD+ synthesis to promote hepatic health

Dr. Y.J. Liu (Yasmine), University of Amsterdam -> Switzerland -> Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) -> 24 months

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+ ) is vital to hepatic health, but itslevels decline in fatty liver diseases. The researchers discovered that inhibiting ACMSD boosts NAD+ biosynthesis in the liver. They will investigate whether inhibiting ACMSD can manage these diseases.

Controlling cell fate decisions in homeostasis and disease

Dr. K. Lõhmussaar (Kadi), Hubrecht Institute (KNAW), University of Utrecht -> Denmark -> University of Copenhagen, Biotech Research & Innovation Centre (BRIC) -> 24 months

During intestinal injury, surviving cells acquire a fetal-like identity to repair the damage. In order to understand how to improve tissue regeneration, the researchers are interested to study how the faith of a cell is decided in this process.

How to silence an X chromosome?

J.C.K. Man PhD (Joyce), Amsterdam UMC (AMC location) -> Germany -> European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg -> 24 months

How female cells shut down one of their two X chromosomes has been a mystery for decades. Researchers have identified a key player in X-chromosome inactivation called SPEN. This project will elucidate SPEN’s mechanism of action in X chromosome-wide silencing.

Energy-burning fat cells originating from smooth muscle cells

Dr. J.M.E. Tan (Jospehine), University of Amsterdam -> United States -> Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania -> 24 months

There are two types of fat cells: those storing energy and those burning energy. Generating more “energyburning” fat cells can aid the fight against obesity. The researcher will study mechanisms through which smooth muscle cells transition into energy-burning fat cells.

Melancholy moods: ancient and medieval predecessors of depression

Dr. R.W. Vinkesteijn (Robert), Leiden University -> Germany -> Humboldt-Universität, Berlin -> 18 months

Depression is not merely a contemporary problem. Ancient and medieval philosophers and scientists extensively studied its predecessor, melancholia. What can we learn from their studies in order to find better ways of dealing with our contemporary problem?

Resetting the heart's nervous system

V.Y.H. van Weperen MD (Valerie), Utrecht University -> United States of America -> University of California, Los Angeles, Cardiac Arrhythmia Center -> 24 months

Heart disease disturbs the heart's nervous system, which predisposes to dangerous heart rhythms. This study will explore how, in heart diseases not due to blocked arteries, nervous system disturbances contribute to these dangerous rhythms and how this can be treated.

Out of my phase! Protein aggregation in ALS pathogenesis

Dr. V.I. Wiersma (Vera), Amsterdam UMC (AMC location) -> Switzerland -> University of Zurich -> 24 months

Cells dynamically concentrate proteins in liquid droplets. These droplets are handy, but possibly also risky, as they can change into solid protein clumps. The researcher studies the liquid-to-solid phase transition of the ALS-protein TDP-43 in cultured human brain cells.

news-7793 Mon, 04 Oct 2021 14:35:56 +0200 FAIR metadata about the COVID-19-projects available on COVID-19 Data Portal of Health-RI https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/fair-metadata-about-the-covid-19-projects-available-on-covid-19-data-portal-of-health-ri-1/ On October 5, Health-RI will demonstrate the COVID-19 Data Portal, which was developed with co-funding from the ZonMw COVID-19 research programme. The portal facilitates researchers to search, find and analyse information, and to request data according to the associated license, and governance. The portal exposes the information about COVID-19 research projects that is provided through COVID-19 specific FAIR metadata. ZonMw’s COVID-19 projects that provided these metadata can thereby be found on the portal.

Demonstration of the COVID-19 Data Portal

The COVID-19 Data Portal will be demonstrated during the Health-RI conference on the occasion of the start of the National Growth Fund (Groeifonds in Dutch). This funding powers Health-RI to accelerate the work on a national health data infrastructure. For ZonMw, this will create an important opportunity to further enhance the reusability of data (and other outputs) from its research projects. For science and society as a whole, it will improve the range of resources that become available for future research, innovation, and policymaking.

Workflow to FAIRify COVID-19 data

The significant impact of corona urged us to develop together with GO FAIR Foundation, DTL and Health-RI a workflow, tools and a data portal to facilitate COVID-19 researchers to produce FAIR data, i.e. data that are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. The development of these FAIR data services in the COVID-19 programme is in its final phase.

As a result, we now have COVID-19 specific metadata-for-machines (M4M) templates available. These are M4M forms that researchers can use to describe their research projects and databases in a standardised way. The information (metadata) that is provided by researchers in this way, is ‘machine readable’. This means that a computer (‘machine’) can find, understand and use the information. Data become more FAIR when they are accompanied by such machine readable metadata.

The COVID-19 Data Portal that Health-RI developed, exposes the metadata. The machine readable metadata thereby become available as ‘human readable’ information as well. Irrespective of the institute where each project's data is stored, the data portal facilitates for anyone who is interested to find the information about the COVID-19 projects and the data.

Researchers and data stewards are involved

A special feature of FAIR metadata-for-machines (M4M) templates, is that they capture the information about the data in a standardised way, making use of topics and vocabularies (language) that are commonly used within the research community. We therefore organised a number of workshops with the COVID-19 researchers and their data stewards to choose and agree on these elements. GO FAIR Foundation used this input from the research community to develop COVID-19 M4M templates that are well fit to describe the COVID-19 projects and datasets.

What can be done with the metadata that thus becomes available?

The information that is derived from the metadata and exposed on the COVID-19 Data Portal is open for anyone who is interested. Researchers, innovators, professionals and policy makers can benefit from it for their activities. The standardised descriptions, using terms that are meaningful for the COVID-19 research area, allows them to easily find, analyse and compare the information. Furthermore, someone who is interested the use a dataset that is described on the portal, can send a request through the portal. Data become available according to the associated license, and governance defined per dataset.


This COVID-19 Data Portal is a collaboration of HEALTH-RI, GO FAIR Foundation and ZonMw. Through this, we enable reuse of data to contribute to future innovations in health and health research. At present. the Data Portal exposes COVID-19 research. ZonMw will continue to develop community specific M4M templates, resulting in information on the data portal. Information about antimicrobial resistance and infectious diseases will follow soon, as well as other topics in the near future.

More information

news-7668 Tue, 07 Sep 2021 10:03:00 +0200 More than 80% of publications funded by NWO and ZonMw Open Access https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/more-than-80-of-publications-funded-by-nwo-and-zonmw-open-access/ In 2020, 85% of the publications resulting from NWO funded research were Open Access. For ZonMw, this percentage is 83%. These are the findings from the biennial Open Access Monitor carried out by CWTS at the request from NWO. NWO and ZonMw are strongly committed to the transition to Open Science. Since the introduction of NWO's Open access policy in 2009, great progress has been made. NWO and ZonMw continue to strive for 100% Open access to publications and for research data to be shared according to the maxim “as open as possible as, closed as necessary”.

The main findings of the CWTS-report are:

  • Of the articles published in 2020 arising from NWO funding, 85% are openly accessible: either through the publisher's platforms (gold route) or through a repository (green route). For ZonMw this figure is 83%. That’s an increase of 17% and 23% respectively, since the previous monitor in 2018.
  • The proportion of publications in full gold journals as well as the number of publications in hybrid journals is increasing. The latter as a result of the VSNU's successful Open access agreements with large and medium-sized publishers.
  • In terms of the overall Open access score, there are no major differences between universities. Between disciplines, however, there are differences in the preferred routes. Researchers in the natural sciences tend to choose the green route more often. In the biomedical sciences, publishing in full gold open access is more common.

Caroline Visser, responsible for Open Science in NWO’s  Executive Board of NWO: "It is fantastic that 85% of the research funded by NWO is now openly available. Open Science leads to increased findability and visibility of research results and therefore to more impact, both in science and society. In collaboration with the Dutch universities and medical centers, we have achieved a lot and although - as often - the last steps may be the most difficult, we continue to strive for 100%. And that is realistic. After all, sharing an article via a repository is always an option. We are also going to put more effort into monitoring the compliance with our Open access requirements".  

“As research funders, Open Access is important to us,” adds Jeroen Geurts, Chair of the board of ZonMw and member of the board of NWO, “because it increases the impact of research, improves quality due to transparency, and promotes international collaboration. That is why we set requirements for the research we fund. But we are also taking steps to help researchers do this. That is why, on 1 April of this year, NWO and ZonMw became members of Europe PMC (PubMed Central), an Open Science platform that maintains a worldwide collection of scientific articles and other research results. Researchers from NWO and ZonMw-funded research in the field of life and medical sciences can now share their publications with a worldwide audience in one central place. This membership of Europe PMC is the next step towards 100% Open Access publishing”.

Open Science is the movement that stands for research practices that are more open and participatory, wherein publications, data, software and other forms of scientific information are shared at the earliest possible stage and made openly available for reuse. Open Science leads to more impact, both on science and on society. NWO and ZonMw believe that publicly funded research should be openly available and therefore actively contribute to the transition to Open Science. In that context, they both joined cOAlition S in 2019, a consortium of international research funders with the aim to accelerate the transition to 100% Open Access. NWO's Plan S-based Open Access policy entered into effect as of January 1, 2021.

More information



news-7605 Thu, 12 Aug 2021 09:00:00 +0200 Challenge for Create2Solve can now be submitted! https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/challenge-for-create2solve-can-now-be-submitted/ ZonMw invites industry, research institutions and legislative bodies to formulate a challenge for Phase 0 of the call for proposals Create2Solve. In the initiative Create2Solve, the challenges from industry with animal-free innovations take centre stage. In the following phase, knowledge institutions and private partners will work on a project to come up with a solution fot the challenges. While the pharmaceutical, medical technologies, chemical, cosmetics and food industries are increasingly seeking solutions to improve, for example, their prediction of clinical efficacy and/or risk and safety assessments without the use of animals, the solutions are still insufficient. These organizations can now submit challenges for which they wish to develop an animal-free solution until 6 January 2022. Subsequently, the parties concerned will come together in a matchmaking meeting this autumn so that afterwards, they can formulate the challenges together and turn them into a call for proposals. With this approach, ZonMw encourages the development of animal-free innovations with impact that must lead to marketable methods, models and/or services.

The phases of Create2Solve

Create2Solve consists of three phases. Phase 0 has now started:

•    Phase 0: ‘Request for Challenges’

Industry, legislative bodies and research institutions submit challenges aimed at solving current problems so that innovations can be realised in an animal-free manner. By doing this, they request development of a animal-free solution to a problem, for which currently animal models are insufficient and no fitting alternatives are present. Two challenges will be selected and will result in a call for proposals.

•    Phase 1: ‘Proof-of-concept projects’

Knowledge institutions, together with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), can submit a proposal for a proof-of-concept project for animal-free solutions for the challenges. The committee of experts will select a maximum of three projects per challenge. These will start in Phase 1 and have a duration of eight months.

•    Phase 2: ‘Elaboration solution – research projects’

Two selected proof-of-concept projects, one per challenge, will further develop their animal-free innovation into a prototype. The duration of the research project is four to five years.

Funding and duration

The funding for Create2Solve is made available by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Dutch Research Council and the Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing. For each proof-of-concept project, a maximum budget of € 100,000 is available for a period of eight months. For the research projects, a maximum budget of € 900,000 is available per project for a maximum period of five years.

More information

With the call for proposals Create2Solve, which is part of the programme ‘More Knowledge with Fewer Animals’, ZonMw is organising demand-driven research into animal-free innovations.

•    Request for Challenges
•    Create2Solve is an initiative of the programme More Knowledge with Fewer Animals

news-7523 Mon, 19 Jul 2021 09:46:33 +0200 NWO launches new NWA call about acceptance of animal-free models https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/nwo-launches-new-nwa-call-about-acceptance-of-animal-free-models/ How can we encourage the acceptance and implementation of existing animal-free models? This is the key question in the new call published by the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA). Almost 2.9 million euros is being made available in this call for research by broad consortia of researchers and civil society partners. ZonMw is realising this Call for proposals in collaboration with NWO. Every day, people are exposed to numerous chemical substances which occur in products such as drugs and cosmetics and in the environment. A thorough safety assessment of a substance is necessary to protect people against its possible dangers.

Use of experimental animals is facing increasing criticism

Animal experiments are still frequently used for such assessments. However, this use of experimental animals is facing increasing criticism from both a societal and scientific viewpoint. Reasons for this include animal welfare and the translatability of the results from animals to humans. Several parties are committed to accelerating the transition to animal-free models for the safety assessment of substances.

Many animal-free models already exist. Yet despite this, the widespread use of animal-free models remains limited. Numerous parties from different domains are involved in this theme, such as society, science, legislation and industry. Each of these parties has its own motives, convictions and interests. The acceptance and implementation of animal-free models therefore require additional effort, flexibility and trust. By inviting all these parties to participate in consortia, we encourage the use of existing animal-free models for a more reliable prediction of the effects on human health.

More information about the Call 'Acceptance animal free models'


news-7495 Wed, 14 Jul 2021 09:14:00 +0200 78 researchers receive NWO-Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/78-researchers-receive-nwo-vidi-grant-worth-800000-euros/ The Dutch Research Council has awarded 78 experienced researchers a Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros. 15 of these fall under the ZonMw field of activity. The grant enables them to develop their own innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years. With the grant the Vidi laureates will do research on a variety of subjects including how the motivation to maintain positive self-views distort memory, compromising the quality of financial decisions. The Vidi will also help researchers study the interactions between respiratory viruses and implications for vaccination policies. Another research will focus on the safety of bridges, based on satellite data.

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 402 researchers submitted an admissible research project for funding during this Vidi funding round. Seventy-eight of these have now received grants. That amounts to an award rate of 19%. See the online list of awarded grants for the 2020 round which contains the names of all of the laureates and brief summaries of their research projects

More information


news-7487 Fri, 09 Jul 2021 13:37:15 +0200 Follow-up of the InSight programme gives new impetus to scientific research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/follow-up-of-the-insight-programme-gives-new-impetus-to-scientific-research/ The InSight (InZicht) programme will be continued in 2021. This means a new impetus for research for persons with visual disabilities. The goal of the InSigt programme is to fund scientific research that benefits persons with visual disabilities. The InSight Foundation (Stichting Inzicht) is responsible for this follow-up. The programme is funded by support foundations associated with Bartiméus and Royal Visio. ZonMw manages the programme.

Grant call

In August 2021, a grant call will be opened. Researchers and care institutions can then submit proposals for research projects.

Impetus for scientific research

The InSight Foundation and ZonMw are pleased that this continuation of InSight will enable them to continue and strengthen the focus on high-quality scientific research undertaken by care and research institutions.

ZonMw and the InSight Foundation will ensure that researchers within the field and beyond are well aware of the research being carried out. Researchers can thus take full advantage from the accumulated knowledge. Finally, the implementation of research results will be developed and strengthened in practice.

Persons with visual disabilities are closely involved in the design and implementation of the research projects.


The InSight Foundation has determined the focus and priorities for this follow-up programme, in conjunction with the ZonMw programme Expertisefunctie Zintuiglijk Gehandicapten. The programme builds on the earlier achievements of InSight. The focus is on scientific research that meets practical questions. In this way InSight optimally complements the Expertisefunctie Zintuiglijk Gehandicapten programme, which focuses on practice-oriented research.

Background information

The InSight programme has been in operation since 1998. ZonMw manages the grant calls and will ensure a careful assessment of the research proposals submitted. The assessment comprises the quality, and the relevance, of the proposals, so that the research fits the needs that live in the field.


Dick Houtzager, programme manager, or Rozemarijn Beemster, programme secretary, Inzicht@zonmw.nl, phone +31 70 3495322


news-7480 Thu, 08 Jul 2021 09:04:08 +0200 New planning for Veni rounds announced: uniformity across all domains https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/new-planning-for-veni-rounds-announced-uniformity-across-all-domains/ The new planning for the next Veni rounds has been finalised. In 2022, the planning for this NWO Talent Programme will be fully aligned, just as it was prior to the changes that took place last year as a result of the coronavirus crisis and hack at NWO. NWO also intends to introduce more uniformity in its procedures, which is a desire that has been expressed in the field for a long time. The mandatory preproposal phase will therefore apply to the Veni from now on, which is another step towards limiting the pressure during the application procedure. Joint starting date

NWO has carefully considered the best joint starting date for the new rounds in 2022, also taking into account the desire not to create an overlap of rounds or introduce new changes to the current evaluation procedures. The decision about the 2021 Veni for the ENW and ZonMw domains is planned for coming December, for Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES) domains is planned for April next year. NWO realises that the Veni applicants from the ZonMw and ENW science domains will have to wait longer than they had probably hoped.

The new Veni-planning for all domains is as follows:

  • Deadline for the (mandatory) preproposal is Tuesday 6 September 2022
  • Deadline for full proposals is Tuesday 24 January 2023
  • The decision about the Veni proposals for the 2022 round will take place in June 2023.

The cut-off date remains 1 January 2022. This means that the 2022 Veni round is open to researchers who will have obtained their PhD no more than three ago on 1 January 2022. Researchers who obtained their PhD between 1 January and 6 September 2022 are also eligible for this round.

More information

news-7392 Mon, 21 Jun 2021 11:42:00 +0200 ZonMw invests in bridge-builders between clinical practice and research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-invests-in-bridge-builders-between-clinical-practice-and-research/ Five young postdoctoral clinicians will set up their own line of research with a maximum grant of 200,000 euros per person from the Clinical Fellows programme. Their research projects are also aimed at building bridges between clinical practice and scientific research. The researchers will work on better treatment choices for patients in a preliminary stage of cervical cancer, better therapy choices for patients with intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, more knowledge of the disease rheumatoid arthritis, a faster recovery from a stroke, and personalised counselling and care for parents who experience a premature birth.

This year, the ZonMw programmes Efficiency Studies and Good Use of Medicines each had extra budget to offer a Clinical Fellowship to one talented young medical specialist.

Overview of the projects (alphabetical order of surname):

  • Dr Edith van Esch (Catharina Hospital) - Validation and implementation of prognostic immunological factors for clinical responses to imiquimod therapy in patients with cervical high grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (Good Use of Medicines)
  • Dr Noortje Festen (UMC Groningen) - Improving treatment for IBD by translating basic biology into treatment choices
  • Dr Rachel Knevel (Leiden University Medical Center) - Using a big data approach to divide the syndrome Rheumatoid Arthritis into homogenous subsets
  • Dr Bob Roozenbeek (ErasmusMC) - Prehospital triage of patients with suspected stroke symptoms: development, implementation and evaluation of a decision support tool (Efficiency Studies)
  • Dr Joanne Verweij (Leiden University Medical Center) - On the limits of neonatal viability: the ethics of changing towards an individualized prognosis-based approach

A Clinical Fellowship is a personal incentive grant for postdoctoral and specialised clinicians who want to continue combining clinical work with scientific research. With this fellowship, a clinician can make a start with setting up an own line of research. The programme is aimed at clinicians who are more or less at the beginning of their scientific career.

More information

news-7361 Thu, 10 Jun 2021 14:35:00 +0200 Team science for groundbreaking fundamental research receives boost of 12.5 million euros https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/team-science-for-groundbreaking-fundamental-research-receives-boost-of-125-million-euros/ Sixteen research teams will set up innovative collaborations that contribute to innovation in science and healthcare for the longer term. Each team has received a maximum of 750,000 euros from the programme ZonMw Open Competition. The research groups will investigate, for example, the genetic factors of heart muscle diseases, better treatment of damage to the retina and the development of antibiotics against tuberculosis. With a view to team science, the programme ZonMw Open Competition is specifically aimed at innovative and groundbreaking combinations of two or more research groups. The projects and the teams are assessed against criteria such as creativity, groundbreaking research of high quality, and the utilisation of knowledge via transmission and implementation through, among other approaches, the participation of stakeholders in the broadest sense of the word. The composition of the teams and the synergy between the different research partners was another important element in the assessment. ZonMw is increasingly using the narrative CV in funding rounds, and it was now used for the first time to assess research teams. In a manner appropriate to the research question and design of the research project, researchers and research groups are assessed for research, education, and a good balance between individual talent and team science, scientific leadership, and contributions to Open Science. This form of assessment is part of the new Recognition and Rewarding.

Besides budget for personnel and material costs, funding could also be requested for knowledge utilisation, internationalisation and research infrastructure. Three research groups received an extra investment module of at most 250,000 euros for medium-sized infrastructure.

These are the sixteen research teams who will set to work with innovative collaboration and groundbreaking research (in order of application number):

Linking mTOR to deregulated GABA signaling in developmental epilepsy
Prof. E.M.A. (Eleonora) Aronica – Amsterdam UMC-AMC
Dr D. (Dirk) Schubert – Radboudumc

Epilepsy is a common neurological disease, affecting approximately 180,000 people in the Netherlands. Treating childhood-onset genetic epilepsies is challenging. This project brings together researchers with expertise in epilepsy, neuropathology and neurophysiology to elucidate the mechanisms underlying altered neuronal network function in epilepsy, using human brain tissue and human cell models.

New energy for genetic cardiomyopathy
Prof. ir J.P.W.M. (Jeroen) Bakkers – Hubrecht Institute
Prof. F.W. (Folkert) Asselbergs and dr M. (Magdalena) Harakalova – University Medical Center Utrecht
Dr F.M. (Frédéric) Vaz – Amsterdam UMC

Cardiomyopathies are life threatening diseases that can be caused by genetic factors such as the PLN mutation. In this project it will be investigated how the PLN mutation affects the energy metabolism of the heart by using novel disease models. The results will help to develop new treatment strategies.

Disturbed protein complexes on cancer cells leads to reduced therapy response
Prof. A.B. (Annemiek) van Spriel – Radboudumc
Prof. P. (Piet) Gros – Utrecht University

Protein complexes on the cancer cell surface can facilitate growth. The researchers are investigating the structure and organisation of protein complexes on the cancer cell surface. This research may provide prospects to make cancer cells more sensitive to immunotherapies.

Ready for the new T: resident cells for tumorimmunity
Prof. T. (Thorbald) van Hall – Leiden University Medical Center
Dr K.P.J.M. (Klaas) van Gisbergen – Amsterdam UMC

Cancers consist of more than just derailed cells but are intermingled with normal cells of the body, including those of the immune system. Immunotherapy activates such immune cell and thereby control tumor growth. We here will investigate the role of a new lineage of cells: tissue-resident memory T cells.

Navigating uncertainty in gender incongruence and differences in sex development (DSD)
Dr C.M. (Chris) Verhaak and dr A.J.M. (Anke) Oerlemans – Radboudumc
Dr W.J.P. (Wyke) Stommel – Radboud University
Dr M.A. (Marij) Hillen – Amsterdam UMC-AMC
Dr A.L.C. (Annelou) de Vries – Amsterdam UMC-VUmc

Transgender and intersex children, their parents, and healthcare providers face substantial uncertainty. This covers medical, psychological, ethical and communicative aspects regarding treatment decisions and longterm development of the conditions. This project aims to understand uncertainty and support children, parents and healthcare professionals in recognizing, discussing and coping with uncertainty.

Cornea regeneration instructed by molecular cell identity characterization
Dr H. (Jo Huiqing) Zhou – Radboud University
Dr M. (Mor) Dickman and dr V.L.S. (Vanessa) LaPointe – Maastricht University

The current treatment for cornea damage depends on stem cells in the patient's own healthy eye. No
treatment is available for patients with two injured eyes. Scientists will develop a novel regenerative
technology to convert patient's skin and mouth cells into cornea stem cells to restore vision.

Peeping through the cell wall of the tubercle bacillus
Prof. W. (Wilbert) Bitter – Amsterdam UMC-VUmc
Prof. Dr D.J. (Dirk) Slotboom – University of  Groningen

The tubercle bacillus is remarkably resistant to antibiotics due to its fortified cell wall. Now, we will unravel how this cell wall works in keeping up defenses while allowing transport of essential nutrients. We will use this knowledge to device new antibiotics.    

In search for the origin of our autonomic nervous system
Prof. A. (Andries) Kalsbeek – Amsterdam UMC
Prof. O.C. (Onno) Meijer – Leiden University Medical Center
Dr C.X. (Chun-Xia) Yi – Amsterdam UMC
Dr A. (Ahmed) Mahfouz – Leiden University Medical Center
Prof. E. (Eric) Fliers – Amsterdam UMC

The hypothalamus is a small brain area that controls all of our physiology via hormones and autonomic nervous system. Its neuro-endocrine neurons have been well-characterized since a long time. With the newest microscopes and molecular techniques researchers will now trace and characterize the neurons that control our autonomic nervous system.

Family matters: genes and behavior as the biological basis for a long and healthy life
Prof. P.E. (Eline) Slagboom – Leiden University Medical Center
Prof. D.I. (Dorret) Boomsma – Free University Amsterdam
Prof. W.M.M. (Monique) Verschuren – RIVM
Dr M. (Marian) Beekman – Leiden University Medical Center

The life expectancy raises globally but the increase in healthy lifespan is lagging behind. Longevity families traced in Dutch databases often display disease-free survival into exceptional ages. In this project, we will disentangle the social, behavioral and genetic mechanisms that protect against age-related disease and promote a healthy life span.

Targeting the Mesenchymal Cancer Cell Phenotype for Therapeutic Gain
Prof. ir. P. (Peter) ten Dijke – Leiden University Medical Center
Dr P.E. (Pouyan) Boukany – TU Delft
Prof. J.W.M. (John) Martens and prof. S. (Stefan) Sleijfer – Erasmus MC Cancer Institute

Most cancer patients die from malignant metastases, or because the patients have become insensitive to chemotherapy. In this project, we aim to identify and repurpose existing drugs to selectively change the behaviour of aggressive cancer cells into non-invasive and therapy sensitive cancer cells or benign fat cells.

Out in the cold!
Prof. P. (Patrick) Schrauwen – Maastricht University
Dr E. (Eric) Kalkhoven – UMC Utrecht
Dr J. (Joris) Hoeks – Maastricht University
Prof. S. (Sander) Kersten – Wageningen University and  Research Center

In type 2 diabetes, tissues such as skeletal muscle take up less glucose, leading to elevated glucose levels in the blood. This research explores if cold-induced shivering, a type of muscle contraction that heavily relies on glucose for fuel, can stimulate glucose uptake and improve glucose control in diabetes patients.

Dynamic symptoms networks - a novel paradigm to improve diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of multimorbidity
Prof. M.G.M. (Marcel) Olde Rikkert and Dr G.M.E.E. (Geeske) Peeters – Radboudumc
Prof. T.M. (Thomas) Gill – Yale School of Medicine
Prof. C.L.H. (Claudi) Bockting and dr R. (Rick) Quax – University of Amsterdam

The researchers aim to develop a novel theory to improve diagnosis and treatment of older people with complex health problems. Symptoms of diseases overlap and influence each other. The insights gained through this theory can inform doctors about the optimal strategy to treat patients with multiple concurrent diseases.

Recovery of the cell's energy factories for tissue repair in COPD: muscles to the rescue
Prof. I.H. (Irene) Heijink – UMC Groningen
Dr R.C.J. (Ramon) Langen and dr H.R. (Harry) Gosker – Maastricht University
Prof. E.M.J. (Sabeth) Verpoorte – University of Groningen

COPD is a severe disease characterized by lung and often also muscle damage. We will investigate a
novel concept where aberrant interaction between lung and muscle leads to defects in the cell’s energy factories and impaired tissue repair. By restoring these defects, we aim to improve lung and muscle function.

Autism exposed
Dr R.A. (Raymond) Poot – Erasmus MC
Prof. B. (Bas) Van Steensel – Nederlands Kanker Instituut
Dr H.H.H. (Hieab) Adams – Erasmus MC

The risk to develop a mental disorder such as autism or schizophrenia is determined by your DNA. The researchers apply a new method towards reading in the DNA whether somebody is susceptible and to better understand what goes wrong in the brain development of patients.

Beta cell stress and the exocrine pancreas: A cause/ consequence relationship?
Dr B.N.G.G. (Ben) Giepmans – UMC Groningen
Dr E.C.M.C. (Elizabeth) Carroll – TU Delft
Dr A. (Arnaud) Zaldumbide – Leiden University Medical Center

Evidence that the complete pancreas is affected in Type 1 diabetes is emerging. In zebrafish larvae the scientist microscopically study a cause-consequence relationship to understand whether the insulinproducing cells will be stressed by their neighbors involved in food processing, which may be a long-sought trigger for Type 1 diabetes.

The bicarbonate umbrella – a multiorgan protective mechanism in humans.
Prof. U.H.W. (Ulrich) Beuers – Amsterdam UMC
Prof. A.J. (Ton) Rabelink – Leiden University Medical Center

Patients with cholestatic and genetic liver diseases suffer from consequences of worsening liver function, but also liver-independent complaints. We identified bicarbonate secretion as protective mechanism for liver and bile ducts. We aim to characterize and manipulate the 'bicarbonate umbrella' in liver, bile ducts and other organs in a multidisciplinary approach.

More information

news-8121 Thu, 03 Jun 2021 17:15:00 +0200 Start large-scale follow-up study into the health effects of microplastics https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/start-large-scale-follow-up-study-into-the-health-effects-of-microplastics/ On 3 and 4 June, the new MOMENTUM consortium will officially start with a two-day online kick-off meeting where all 28 partners will come together to get to know each other better and establish the plans for the coming period. First step

This new consortium was already announced last January during the presentation of the knowledge agenda Microplastics & Health to the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, Stientje van Veldhoven. The most important message from the knowledge agenda is that more research is needed, and MOMENTUM is taking an important first step in this direction. MOMENTUM is a collaboration between many parties, including universities, university medical centres, research organisations, companies and other relevant stakeholders. It builds further upon the 15 breakthrough projects that started in the spring of 2019 within the ZonMw research programme Microplastics & Health.


The aim of this consortium is to determine the effects of micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNPs) on human health and, ultimately, to prevent such effects. For this purpose, methods will first be developed to analyse and measure MNPs in the human body and subsequently investigate where these particles could possibly be absorbed by the human body. This can occur via the respiratory passages and the gastrointestinal tract, and researchers would like to know whether plastic particles can also end up in the brain or in the foetus. Finally, the possible effects of MNPs on our immune system will be investigated.

‘We hardly know whether MNPs can be absorbed by the body’, says Juliette Legler, Professor of Toxicology at Utrecht University and co-project  leader of MOMENTUM. ‘We already have the first indications for this, but we will now analyse that in far more samples taken from human blood and various tissues. That will enable us to better describe the exposure of humans to MNPs and to determine how serious that exposure is. In addition, we will itemise the effects of MNPs. If we know what is actually absorbed by the body and what the effects of this are, then we can better describe the risks and, together with industry, search for solutions to prevent exposure.’ Toxicologist and co-project leader of MOMENTUM Dick Vethaak (Deltares), agrees with this: ‘It is a very complex study and a long-term project, but we are already well underway in the Netherlands and we expect to take a huge step forwards in the coming years. In doing this, we will also examine new risks of plastic particles. For example, the first ZonMw projects revealed that certain bacteria and viruses thrive well on plastic and can therefore be transported by MNPs into the human body. We now want to further investigate what the effect of this is on our health.’

Officially started

With the kick-off meeting, MOMENTUM will now officially start. During this two-day online meeting, the focus is on establishing a joint basis. The parties involved will come together and get to know each other better, discuss the current state of the scientific research and take part in more in-depth parallel sessions about, amongst other things, new, alternative methods, health impact assessments (HIA) and the linking of environmental and health risks.

More research needed

This consortium has a budget of 5.4 million euros and is being funded by ZonMw, TNO, Health~Holland, various knowledge institutions and industry. These parties subscribe to the appeal for more research made in the knowledge agenda Microplastics & Health and make a contribution to this with the funding of the MOMENTUM consortium. Likewise, these organisations also call upon other parties involved to invest in research because more follow-up research is still desperately needed.

More information

  • Here you can discover the MOMENTUM project (soon available in English)
  • Please find the report from the online symposium ‘Microplastics and human health research in the Netherlands – State of the Science’ that was held on 4 November 2021 here
  • Read about the start of scientific research into health risks of microplastics in our previously published news item
  • Study the compilation of all of our information about the health effects of microplastics
  • Visit the programme Microplastics & Health
news-7236 Tue, 04 May 2021 14:07:37 +0200 Special edition Quality in Care (KIZ) journal published and available in English https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/special-edition-quality-in-care-kiz-journal-published-and-available-in-english/ The latest special edition of Quality in Care (KiZ) is all about implementation and offers a preview of the European Implementation Event 2021. Effective interventions do not automatically find their way into healthcare practice. We now know that active, knowledge-based implementation is necessary to realize and accelerate improvement in health care practice. Implementation has become a field in its own right with a growing scientific knowledge base. And more and more professionals have become specialized in implementation.

Sneak preview

A new special issue of the magazine Quality in Care (KiZ) is entirely devoted to implementation. The issue is a sneak preview of the European Implementation Event on May 27 and 28, 2021. The EIE2021 offers a rich and diverse program that features implementation research and practical experiences from multiple countries, sectors, environments and disciplines.

A number of articles from the KIZ special have been translated into English for our international readers.

  • Event organizers Bianca Albers and Pauline Goense explain the importance of the event and highlight several interesting sessions and the new online format.
  • Keynote speakers Professor David Chambers, Professor Jet Bussemaker and Professor Paul Iske discuss the key messages that they will present during the event.
  • The magazine also contains an article about early career implementation professionals and their specific situation and needs. At the event special sessions have been organized for them.

Registration for the event is still open.

For more information, articles and EIE registration:

news-7210 Wed, 28 Apr 2021 14:09:19 +0200 Industry and science will jointly develop animal-free innovations https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/industry-and-science-will-jointly-develop-animal-free-innovations/ Two Dutch research groups and industry will jointly develop animal-free innovations via the ZonMw call Create2Solve. Over the next five years, the projects will focus on a 3D model of human brain cells and a better test method for potentially toxic substances. The projects will contribute to limiting the use of laboratory animals in both industry and science. The selected projects: a better test method for potentially toxic substances

One of the provisionally awarded projects is from Dr Nynke Kramer (Utrecht University, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences), in collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the private partners Vivaltes and Toxys. This project focuses on developing a robust animal-free test method to establish the toxic dose of poorly soluble substances. ‘If the reliability of animal-free test methods is increased, users will gain more confidence in these and use them as an alternative for animal experiments,’ says Kramer.

The project will provide a solution for Challenge 1: the problem that was previously defined by a consortium consisting of Shell, Sabic and LyondellBasell. As a result, the questions have been posed by the end-users. ‘The outcomes of the project are therefore also something that the end-users will genuinely benefit from’, says Kramer. ‘This approach could enable us to realise an animal-free era in toxicology sooner.’ The project will also considerably limit the number of animal experiments by focussing on more than just the science. James Wheeler, Senior Eco-Toxicologist at Shell, says: ‘Bringing together several parties creates an ideal situation for the successful implementation of animal-free innovations in practice, also at the international policy level.’

A 3D model of human brain cells

The second project provisionally awarded funding is from Dr Femke de Vrij (Erasmus MC) in collaboration with the private partner Core Life Analytics. It focuses on developing an animal-free 3D model with human brain cells that will contribute to drug development and research. ‘Especially for complex brain diseases that are difficult to investigate in laboratory animal models, it is vitally important to do research with human material’, says De Vrij.

Therefore, this project will provide a solution for Challenge 2, the problem defined by the consortium consisting of Charles River Laboratories and Danone Nutricia Research. The design of the project is regarded as promising for medical applications. By combining in-depth academic knowledge with the input of the application-oriented industry, models will be created that could be used for the successful development of new drugs. The collaboration with industry opens new doors as well. ‘The scaling up of experiments and large-scale data analysis are now possible, whereas usually, an academic research group does not have the capacity for this’, says de Vrij.


With the call Create2Solve, which is part of the programme “More Knowledge with Fewer Animals”, ZonMw and industry together undertake demand-driven research into animal-free innovations. With this, ZonMw supports the development of animal-free innovations with an impact that aim to provide marketable methods, models and/or services. The funding for Create2Solve has been made available by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing.

In July 2019, phase 0 of Create2Solve was completed. In this phase, two questions, so-called Challenges, from two consortia of companies were articulated in a call for proposals. For these Challenges, knowledge institutions could submit a project proposal in collaboration with a private partner. Three “proof-of-concept” projects were admitted to phase 1 in December 2019. Two of these projects, one per challenge in the current phase 2, have been selected to develop their proposals into an animal-free innovation, together with the private parties involved. Each of the project groups will receive one million euros and will be given a maximum of five years to realise the project.

Summaries of the projects

Project Challenge 1: Better in vitro Dosing (BID): Framework and technology development for improving the quality of in vitro data - Dr Nynke Kramer (Utrecht University, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences)

(Private) partners: Vivaltes, Toxys and RIVM
Challenge holders: Shell, Sabic and LyondellBasell

To reduce animal experiments, in vitro cell systems will be used to establish the toxic dose for a test substance. Generally, the nominal concentration (the amount of substance added divided by the volume of medium) is used to establish concentration-effect relationships. However, in humans and animals, that leads to poor predictions of the toxic dose of volatile, lipophilic and unstable substances because only a small fraction of these substances ends up in the cells. In this project, we will keep the evaporation, breakdown and bonding of these substances to plastic and plasma proteins in vitro under control by using small, closed glass pots and well collection plates that are dosed using a polymer (so-called partition-controlled dosing). We have developed a decision tree that clarifies under which conditions it is recommended to use these techniques.

Project Challenge 2: 3D MICro-brains: An animal-free human 3D cortical network platform for screening myelination and inflammation phenotypes. 3D Myelination & Inflammation Cortical network platform (3D MICro-brains) - Dr Femke de Vrij (Erasmus MC)

Private partner: Core Life Analytics
Challenge holders: Charles River and Danone Nutricia Research

Recent developments in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology make it possible to implement
cell-type-specific human cell culture models for research and drug development. In this project, researchers will develop a 3D model with human brain cells that can simulate the brain’s complex structure in early development. These micro-brains (3D MICro-brains) will reduce the modelling of the frontal cortex to its essence in a format of, literally, a millionth of the normal brain volume. The platform contains all relevant brain cell types: functional neurons and glia in layered radial structures, including astrocytes, myelin-producing oligodendrocytes and microglia that play a crucial role in inflammatory processes in the brain. Furthermore, this model is entirely animal-free and thus contributes to the transition to animal-free research. Due to its scale and reproducibility, this platform is ideally suited for automated applications in drug development and research, which will be further elaborated with a company that will add automated, high-resolution image processing to this project.

More information:

news-7170 Mon, 19 Apr 2021 14:25:57 +0200 Pearl for data gold mine https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/pearl-for-data-gold-mine/ Which patients with cardiovascular diseases run the risk of a (new) heart attack, heart failure or stroke? What is the optimum personalised treatment? On 15 April, cardiologist Prof. Folkert Asselbergs (University Medical Center Utrecht) received the ZonMw Pearl for a data collection that contributes to answering these questions and for developing a self-management platform. Bridge-builder

The committee that awards the Pearl refers to Asselbergs as a bridge-builder who has contributed to a unique international collaboration. Currently, the genetic and clinical data of about 260,000 people from 64 hospitals have been stored in a standardised manner and made available for research. The international collaboration works with so-called federated data analyses, which leave the data in the original hospital. The analysis program visits all local data collections, so to speak, and only reports the conclusions. In this way, patients’ privacy can be guaranteed, and international collaboration becomes easier from a legal perspective too. That is because the patients’ personal data do not leave the hospital.

Initial results

It was found that not all genetic risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases contribute to an increased risk of recurring problems. A better understanding was also gained of individual differences in response to drugs and other treatments, as a result of which treatments can become increasingly personalised.



news-7109 Fri, 02 Apr 2021 10:29:33 +0200 Start research into the optimal use of COVID-19 vaccines for patients with immune system disorders https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/start-research-into-the-optimal-use-of-covid-19-vaccines-for-patients-with-immune-system-disorders/ Research groups will further investigate the effect of COVID-19 vaccines in patients with immune disorders, cancer or a transplantation. These research projects are part of the COVID-19 research programme, and each project has received a grant from ZonMw.
On behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and in collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), ZonMw is focusing in these studies on optimising the effect of COVID-19 vaccination in groups of patients who have an immune system disorder. This includes patients with malignancies, immune disorders and other patient populations not identified in previous studies.

The research to be funded supplements RIVM’s research in the context of monitoring and evaluating national vaccination programmes and also the research carried out by the vaccine manufacturers. The patients will be vaccinated as part of the government’s vaccination strategy against COVID-19. The new research projects will provide knowledge for patients and those treating them, and it will support an optimum use of vaccines in these groups.

Patients with an immune system disorder

The vaccines currently available are mainly, but not limited to, vaccines tested by the manufacturers on relatively healthy adults. Specific risk groups, such as people with certain diseases, obesity, Down’s syndrome, pregnant women and certain age categories (dependent on the maximum age of the people selected for the vaccine study) are only partly included in these studies. The registration authorities have approved the vaccines for these target groups as well. However, additional research into these groups is still needed to provide us with more insights into the immune response to vaccine antigens in patients with a less well-functioning immune system. Such a less well-functioning immune system could be due to birth defect or it could be caused by a transplantation or immune-modulating treatments (chemotherapy, immunotherapy).

Studies will initially focus on patients with autoimmune diseases who are treated with immunosuppressive drugs, patients with primary immune deficiencies or immune disorders, cancer patients (solid tumours) who are treated with chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy, patients with a kidney transplant and dialysis patients, lung transplant patients and people with Down’s syndrome. The RIVM will investigate the immune response in the general population, including the elderly.

Prepared for new pandemics

Within the ZonMw and RIVM projects, standardised protocols and measurement methods are used that have been internationally agreed upon. This means that overarching research across the different vaccines and populations is possible. The knowledge developed through national and international collaboration and analysis will ensure that we are better prepared for the use of vaccines in any possible new pandemics.

More information

•    Read more about research into the coronavirus and COVID-19

news-7082 Mon, 08 Mar 2021 14:57:00 +0100 Professionalising data stewardship with competences, training and education https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/professionalising-data-stewardship-with-competences-training-and-education-1/ As part of the National Programme Open Science (NPOS), the 'Professionalising data stewardship in the Netherlands' report was recently published. This report provides arguments for urgent decisions and activities to ensure adequate data steward capacity in the Netherlands, in order to realise the ambitions for Open Science. How are Open Science and FAIR data connected?

The Dutch National Programme Open Science (NPOS) has defined 3 key areas:

  • Open Access: making all research output (articles etc.) accessible for everyone without costs
  • FAIR data: making all research data FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable
  • citizen science: promoting the involvement of citizens in science programmes

Within the key area of ‘FAIR data’ the current report focuses on the people who can help to turn FAIR data into reality - namely data stewards.

What is a data steward?

Data stewardship is a catch-all term for numerous support functions, roles and activities with respect to creating, maintaining and using research data. The core responsibilities and tasks vary from policy advising and consultancy, to operational, and technical, ICT-related tasks. Unfortunately, a data steward is not yet uniformly defined as most descriptions originate from the fast evolving landscape of Open Science, research data management and FAIR data, and thus share its newness and fuzziness.

In this report data stewardship is defined as 'the responsible planning and executing of all actions on digital data before, during and after a research project, with the aim of optimising the usability, reusability and reproducibility of the resulting data' (definition put forward by DTL).

Why do we need more data stewards?

In the past years it has become clear that there is a large need for and shortage of individuals with data stewardship expertise. Furthermore, a lack of formal education and training, a lack of awareness and recognition amongst researchers and the absence of a coordinated approach all hamper the professionalisation and expansion of this profession.

How many data stewards do we need where in the organisation and with what competences?

Each research-performing institute should ask these questions. This report helps to build the foundation to answer them. It provides an overview of the current situation of data stewardship in the Netherlands. It gives specific recommendations to multiple stakeholders, so that they can move forward with advancing FAIR data stewardship in their organisation. Furthermore, it draws attention to the urgent need for nationally coordinated implementation.

What next steps can organisations take?

In the report it is recommended that:

  • the defined data stewardship and research software engineer competences will be consolidated and implemented
  • the corresponding job profiles should be formalised via national job classification systems
  • tailored training programmes matching the required competences should be defined, developed and delivered
  • a data steward skills tool should be built, which then serves as a single point of reference for up-to-date information on competences, job profiles, and training opportunities, and allows for (self-)assessment and identification of career development options

The recommendations in the report are specifically tailored to the following stakeholders in the Netherlands:

  • local research organisations, such as universities, university medical centres, universities of applied sciences, and their board members, deans and HR managers
  • umbrella organisations, such as VSNU, NFU and VH and similar representative organisations
  • research-funding organisations, such as ZonMw and NWO
  • representatives of the researcher communities, such as PNN, the networking organisation for PhD candidates, and the local Open Science communities
  • service-providing, networking and training organisations, such as DTL, SURF, LCRDM, Health-RI, and RDNL

Over 30 representatives from numerous organisations participated and endorse the report

The NPOS-F project team consisted of over 30 representatives of multiple Dutch universities, university medical centres, universities of applied sciences and service providers. In addition, major stakeholders speaking for diverse organisations such as VSNU, VH, NFU, PNN, SURF and ZonMw were involved in this project. Thanks to active involvement of these partners and the practical applicability of the recommendations, the team is convinced that the necessary decisions and activities to ensure adequate data steward capacity in the Netherlands will be implemented in the near future.

NPOS, ZonMw, Open Science and FAIR data

This end report of the NPOS-F project team ‘Professionalising data stewardship’ is part of the NPOS FAIR data programme line. Authors of the report are representatives of DTL (Dutch Techcentre for Lifesciences), DANS (Data Archiving and Networked Services), Maastricht University, GO FAIR Foundation, ZonMw and LCRDM (National Coordination Point Research Data Management).

ZonMw aims at improving the scientific and social impact of research output, including research data. To gain impact from research data, one must be able to reuse them for verification of research findings, or for future research. To this end, ZonMw requires researchers to perform research data management and stewardship (RDM), and to share their data to contribute to future, innovative research. ZonMw’s procedures for RDM aim at creating data that are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR), and high quality research projects.

More information

news-7008 Mon, 08 Mar 2021 12:06:45 +0100 Register now for 6th JPI HDHL conference on April 20 and 21 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/register-now-for-6th-jpi-hdhl-conference-on-april-20-and-21/ The 6th international conference of the Joint Programming Initiative ‘A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ will take place digitally on April 20 and 21, 2021. In 2020 we reached a milestone: 10 years of JPI HDHL. This conference offers the perfect opportunity to discuss with our stakeholders how we can build on our experiences and achievements. While there are many lessons to be learned and shared, one of the main recurring issues is how nutrition often falls in the gap between the themes of health and food.  JPI HDHL stands for the need to bridge that gap, to ensure that nutrition research and policy receives the attention it deserves. This is part of the urgent, broader call for a food systems approach. Therefore, we will explore during our conference how a systemic approach can be implemented to create more impact; what does this mean for scientists? What does it mean at a policy level? And how can we better connect the two? Through topical keynotes, a panel, workshops and informal discussions we will cover these and other questions relevant to the future of food, nutrition and health research.

Programme in a nutshell

This year we are organizing a 2-day conference on the morning of April 20th and the afternoon of April 21st in a digital conference environment.

April 20, 10.00-13.30
We will kick-off our conference with Dr. Sébastien Treyer (Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations) who will speak on connecting research to policy and the needs of society. Why is this important and how can it be strengthened? We will continue this topic with and interactive audience and panel discussion. The first day will conclude with several inspiration sessions; short talks about exciting developments relevant to the area of food, diet and nutrition.

April 21, 14.00-17.00
On the second day our keynote speaker is Professor of human nutrition John Mathers (Newcastle University, JPI HDHL scientific advisory board vice-chair). In his talk he will address the development of nutritional research in light of 10 years of JPI HDHL. He will reflect on the contributions of the JPI HDHL to the research field and the key issues for the future. The keynote will be followed by (interactive) workshops on a wide array of topics, including the intersection of physical activity and nutrition research and how to improve international collaboration.

Register now!

We look forward to welcoming you, because only through joint efforts can we move closer to achieving the aim of JPI HDHL in the next 10 years: the prevention of diet-related disease, for healthy people on a healthy planet. You can already register for one or for both days. After registering, you will be invited to choose your inspiration sessions and workshop in the upcoming weeks.  

More information



news-6980 Mon, 01 Mar 2021 08:48:58 +0100 6 scientists to receive NWO Vici grants for medical research and care innovation (ZonMw) https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/6-scientists-to-receive-nwo-vici-grants-for-medical-research-and-care-innovation-zonmw/ 6 leading scientists will each receive 1.5 million euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This Vici grant will enable them to develop an innovative line of research in the field of medical research and care innovation and set up their own research group in the coming five years. Hack NWO

As a consequence of the hack of NWO, ZonMw and NWO can at this moment only announce the laureates who applied at ZonMw. It is not yet possible to say when the applicants who applied at NWO, will be informed about their Vici proposal.


Vici is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands and targets advanced researchers. The Vici laureates will examine among other topics the role of ethnic descent on the risk of lifelong diabetes, spontaneous and inherited mutations in genes and new approaches to characterize how our immune system changes upon infection and how these changes drive virus evolution.


Of the 44 proposals applied at ZonMw, 15 (35%) were submitted by women and 29 (66%) by men. Overall, 1 female candidate and 5 male candidates were awarded a grant. The total award rate is 14 per cent.

Talent Scheme: about Vici

The Vici grant targets highly experienced researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative lines of research, and to act as coaches for young researchers. Vici provides researchers with the opportunity to set up their own research group, often in anticipation of a tenured professorship.

The Vici grant is one of three funding instruments within the Talent Scheme. The other two instruments are the Veni grant (for recently graduated PhDs, up to 3 years after graduation) and the Vidi grant (for experienced postdocs, up to 8 years after graduation).

The Vici is part of the NWO Talent Programme. ZonMw is realising this round for the domain of medical research and healthcare innovation.

More information



news-6971 Fri, 26 Feb 2021 12:26:24 +0100 ZonMw will announce Vici laureates medical research and health innovation next week https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-will-announce-vici-laureates-medical-research-and-health-innovation-next-week/ In the week of 1 March, ZonMw will announce which researchers who submitted a proposal in the domain medical research and health innovation will receive a Vici grant. That is possible because these applicants submitted their proposals to ZonMw and, as a result, the decision-making about their proposals is not affected by the hack of the NWO systems. Therefore, ZonMw can complete the decision-making process for its part of the Vici 2020 round. ZonMw will first inform the applicants about its decision and then publish the news about the laureates on its website. The awarding of Vici grants by NWO for the other domains (Applied and Engineering Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, and Science) are currently delayed. The decision-making for these applications will be resumed once the NWO processes can be restarted. NWO is currently doing all it can to fix the problem as quickly as possible. It is not yet known how long this situation will continue. As soon as there is more clarity about the exact consequences of the situation for the funding programmes, this will be announced on nwo.nl.

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news-8141 Fri, 12 Feb 2021 15:32:00 +0100 How harmful are microplastics to our health? Toxicologists call in Science for knowledge gaps to be bridged https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/how-harmful-are-microplastics-to-our-health-toxicologists-call-in-science-for-knowledge-gaps-to-be/ More research is needed into the health risks of microplastics, argue Dutch toxicologists in the renowned scientific journal Science. It is still far from clear whether these new environmental contaminants form a serious risk for human health, and so it is important to determine that quickly. Microplastics are everywhere

Microplastics, the collective name for small and very small plastic particles, occur everywhere. They can enter our body through a variety of routes (for example, via the air, food and water). The exact size of that exposure and what microplastics do inside our bodies is still largely unknown. What we definitely do know is that plastic particles are almost never broken down, and there are indications that they can be harmful in various ways.

Health risk

In the article published in the scientific journal Science, toxicologists Dick Vethaak from Deltares and emeritus professor at VU Amsterdam, and Juliette Legler, professor at Utrecht University, provide insight into the current state of research into microplastics. According to Vethaak and Legler, it is still far from clear whether these new environmental contaminants form a serious risk for human health. Crucial knowledge about exposure and harm is missing as a result of which far too many uncertainties remain. Moreover, no good measurement methods exist yet to measure the extremely small particles in the body. And we do not yet know how the immune system deals with these foreign particles either. Harmful chemical substances and possibly pathogenic organisms that attach to the surface of the microparticles can be transported into the body. Far more research is needed to be able to make a proper assessment of the risks. Therefore the authors make a clear appeal for the critical knowledge gaps in the research to be quickly bridged so that health policy and risk-limiting measures can be supported in good time.

Internationally leading role

The Netherlands currently leads the way in research into the health risks of micro- and nanoplastics. For example, during a virtual meeting held on 11 January 2021, the results of 15 breakthrough projects funded by ZonMw were announced. During the meeting, ZonMw also presented a strategic knowledge agenda to the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, Stientje van Veldhoven. This agenda was written on behalf of her ministry. The new research project MOMENTUM was also introduced. This is a consortium of 27 research institutes and companies that Legler and Vethaak will coordinate. The aim of the multidisciplinary research is to form the basis of the research infrastructure for microplastics and health in the Netherlands, which all parties involved can build further upon in the coming decades.
Collaboration and knowledge sharing with, amongst others, the polymer industry and medical world in the programme is unique and encourages targeted research and the finding of practical solutions.

More information

news-6897 Mon, 08 Feb 2021 10:28:00 +0100 Fellowships Gender in Research course https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/fellowships-gender-in-research-course/ After a successful first edition in 2019, ZonMw and ErasmusMC will again offer an interesting online joint course program on gender, health and research. The ZonMw Gender and Health Knowledge Program offers 20 Gender in Research Fellowships for early career researchers to participate in the course program. A Gender in Research Fellowship offers exclusive access to the full online course program. The course program is a two-part program: a ZonMw Gender in Research workshop in May and June and a Gender and Health course in late August organized by ErasmusMC as part of the well-renowned Erasmus Summer Programme. Exact dates will follow as soon as possible.

Throughout the course program, (inter)national experts and guest speakers from a multitude of disciplines will share their knowledge and research expertise with the next generation of researchers from all over the world. Over 5 sessions of 3.5 hours each, the ZonMw workshop will provide early-career researchers with new skills on how to include sex and gender considerations in all phases of the research cycle. The ESP Gender and Health course will offer participants the latest knowledge on critical health issues for women and men through the life cycle.

The ZonMw Gender and Health Knowledge Program offers 20 Gender in Research Fellowships for PhD-students and post-doctoral researchers to participate in the joint program. International early-career researchers are also very welcome to apply. Interested? Read more about the fellowship on our Funding Information page and submit your application before 18 March 2021, 14:00hr (CET).

More information

news-6872 Thu, 04 Feb 2021 10:15:23 +0100 ZonMw Open Competition: new funding round opens mid-June https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-open-competition-new-funding-round-opens-mid-june/ In mid-June 2021, innovative teams of researchers can once again submit project ideas for the ZonMw Open Competition. With the current pandemic situation, everybody is under a lot of pressure. Therefore, instead of 2 months, we will give applicants 4 months of preparation time to submit their project idea once the funding round has opened. The deadline for submissions is mid-October 2021. ZonMw Open Competition is specifically aimed at enabling excellent research teams to realise innovations in their research lines with regard to both content and collaboration. The objective is to create room for team science that leads to synergetic, groundbreaking research of exceptional quality in and around fundamental research into healthcare and health innovation.

The ZonMw Open Competition is part of the NWO funding line Curiosity-Driven Research. ZonMw is realising this round for the domain of medical research and healthcare innovation.

More information

news-6825 Fri, 22 Jan 2021 18:05:29 +0100 Awarded projects JPIAMR Network Plus Call https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/awarded-projects-jpiamr-network-plus-call/ The intent of the call is to support networks to design and implement ways to support antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research considering at least one of the six strategic areas of the JPIAMR Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA): Therapeutics, Diagnostics, Surveillance, Transmission, Environment and Interventions. Seven networks including 146 partners from 35 countries have been recommended for funding. The total funding amount is approximately € 737.000. Two networks with Dutch coordinators have been awarded a grant by ZonMw. Both networks will start early 2021, with a duration of 2 years. All consortia are composed of at least 6 partners from 6 different countries.

Within this call, eligible costs include costs associated with international network building and collaboration. Examples are joint seminars, courses, workshops, joint conferences, and joint publications or other joint information dissemination.

JPIAMR-network for Integrating Microbial Sequencing and Platforms for Antimicrobial Resistance (Seq4AMR)

The potential utilisation of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is being constantly refined, aided by the development of novel sequencing technologies, new protocols, algorithms and AMR databanks. In this respect, the Seq4AMR network will generate new synergies, identify AMR NGS gaps and solutions in applications and quality standards, develop and promote new teaching materials and publish an international Strategic Roadmap on NGS and AMR. To achieve this goal, Seq4AMR partners include interdisciplinary, One Health, international experts in the fields of antimicrobial resistance, software development, (open access) bioinformatics platforms, the applications of microbial genomics, DNA sequencing technologies, and microbial DNA databanks.


This project has two coordinators (shared), from the Netherlands and Sweden. The Dutch coordinator is John Hays (Erasmus MC). The network consists of 13 partners from 9 different countries.

  • The Netherlands: Erasmus University Medical Centre Rotterdam, Leiden Centre for Applied Bioscience and Leiden University Hospital
  • China: East China Normal Hospital
  • USA: Orion Integrated Biosciences Inc, SME
  • France: BioMérieux, large industry
  • Sweden: Chalmers University of Technology (CUOT) / University of Gothenburg
  • UK: Cambridge University and London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Canada: McMaster University
  • Switzerland: Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and SmartGene GmbH, SME
  • Austria: Ares Genetics GmbH, SME

JPIAMR Network T&CM alternatives for antibiotics worldwide: Global Initiative for Traditional Solutions to Antimicrobial Resistance (GIFTS-AMR)

Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) is often used in both animal and human healthcare and may contribute to reducing inappropriate antibiotic use or as alternative prevention or treatment.

The aims of the network are:

  1. To develop a global GIFTS-AMR network: to map and connect the research fields, research institutes, researchers and infrastructures in human and animal medicine involved in research on “Traditional Solutions to Antimicrobial Resistance” worldwide;
  2. To discuss and formulate a research agenda for at least one to three prioritised indications both in human and veterinary healthcare;
  3. Collaborate in funding applications.


This network has a Dutch coordinator, Erik Baars (Louis Bolk Instituut). The network consists of 23 partners from 17 different countries.

  • The Netherlands: Louis Bolk Institute and University of Applied Sciences Leiden
  • Austria: Private Medical University, Sigmund Freud University, Vienna and WissHOM
  • Belgium: Eurocam
  • Bulgaria: Medical University of Varna
  • China: Centre for Evidence-Based Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicin
  • Germany: University of Witten-Herdecke, University Medical Centre Freiburg and Sustainable Business Institute
  • Ghana: University of Ghana School of Pharmacy
  • Hungary: University of Pécs
  • India: The University of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences & Technology (B. Prakash)
  • Italy: Coordination Center for Complementary Medicine of the Health Unit Tuscany North West and Foundation for Salutogenesis
  • Mali: University of Sciences, Techniques and Bamako Technologies (USTTB) Faculty of Pharmacy
  • Nigeria: National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research & Development
  • Norway: Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture
  • Spain: IAVH
  • Turkey: Uludag University
  • Uganda: Makerere University
  • UK: Univ. of Southampton, School of Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education and Organic research centre

More information

  • Read more about this JPIAMR call on the JPIAMR website
news-6808 Tue, 19 Jan 2021 11:30:00 +0100 Access for researchers to worldwide open access publishing platform https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/access-for-researchers-to-worldwide-open-access-publishing-platform/ On 1 April 2021, NWO and ZonMw will become members of Europe PMC (PubMed Central), an open science platform that maintains a worldwide collection of scientific articles and other research output. This membership allows NWO and ZonMw funded researchers in the life sciences and medical sciences to globally share their publications via one central location. With this, they will also satisfy the requirements that NWO and ZonMw set for the research projects they fund: making publications openly accessible immediately. Europe PMC is one of the largest open access platforms and is the European mirror version of the American PubMed Central (PMC) that is used throughout the world. For example, Europe PMC contains 6.6 million full articles and 38.1 million abstracts, including those from PubMed and PubMed Central (PMC). Whereas PubMed provides access to abstracts and PMC to full articles, Europe PMC provides online access to a worldwide collection of abstracts, full articles, preprints and patents in the field of medical and life sciences. The membership of Europe PMC helps NWO and ZonMw funded researchers to make the research results openly available, according to the so-called “green route”, and to share these in open access form at a single location thereby making their work even more visible and findable.

The advantages of open access publication via Europe PMC

Europe PMC is more than just a platform. It is also a search engine that provides the richest sets of results in the area of the life sciences and medical sciences. Publications are automatically enriched or linked with information from other sources, such as preprints and information from research funding and project data or, for example, with links to underlying research data. Some publishers will automatically upload articles emerging from research funded by NWO and ZonMw to Europe PMC.
Europe PMC is pleased that NWO and ZonMw will become members of this global platform for open access publishing.

Aiming for 100% open access publishing

In 2019, the research funding agencies NWO and ZonMw endorsed Plan S with the ambition of fully implementing the principles of Plan S with effect from 1 January 2021. Plan S was drawn up by cOAlition S, a collaboration between international research funding agencies whose aim is to accelerate the transition to 100% Open Access. In recent years, NWO and ZonMw committed themselves to realising this. For example, they have both made their funding conditions stricter by stipulating that all scientific publications that emerge from research they fund should be published immediately in open access form. The membership of Europe PMC is the next step in supporting researchers to realise this and comply with the principles of Plan S.

NWO and ZonMw will soon inform researchers and other stakeholders about the way in which the services of Europe PMC can be used.

More information

Europe PMC:

NWO Open Access policy: 

  • NWO open access publiseren (NL) 
  • NWO open access publishing

ZonMw Open Access policy:

news-6779 Wed, 13 Jan 2021 17:04:00 +0100 New JPIAMR call focused on tackling antibiotic resistance https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/new-jpiamr-call-focused-on-tackling-antibiotic-resistance/ We are pleased to open this joint transnational research call about One Health interventions to prevent or reduce the development and transmission of antibiotic resistance. The call, has financial support from the European Commission, and include some 30 funding organisations from 21 JPIAMR member countries. The total estimated call budget is 24.9 million Euro. Antibiotic resistance, One Health and international collaboration

The call advocates for a One Health approach to 1) understand the impact of interventions on the development and transmission of antibiotic resistance and to 2) design, implement, evaluate, and compare interventions that will have a true impact on preventing or reducing the development and transmission of antibiotic resistance in and between the different One Health settings (human, animal, environment).

This call intends to create and reinforce the collaboration between research partners coming from different countries, including LMICs, and different fields of expertise to promote research on antibiotic resistance.

Proposals will be evaluated in a two-step procedure (pre-proposals/full proposals), and applicants have up to March 16th, 2021, 12:00 CET to submit their pre-proposals on www.jpiamr.eu/interventions-and-transmission-call-2021/.

Webinar [updated]

A live webinar was held on the 28th of January 2021 presenting the call and the partner search tool. Representatives from funders participating in the call answered questions live.

The presentations from the webinar are now published on the JPIAMR YouTube channel

A summary of the Q&A can be found here: Q&A Online Webinar for applicants 28 January 2021

Match-making tool

A match-making tool has been created for applicants, to facilitate networking and the creation of consortia. The tool can be consulted for several purposes:

  • Partner looking for project: As individual researcher or a representative of a lab or research team, searching for a project to join.
  • Project looking for partner: If you want to build a consortium around an existing project and want to find partners for your project ideas.

Find and use the tool here: https://ncn.gov.pl/partners/amr13th/

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news-6778 Mon, 11 Jan 2021 17:16:48 +0100 What do microplastics do in our body? https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/what-do-microplastics-do-in-our-body-2/ On Monday 11 January 2021, the knowledge agenda Microplastics and Health was presented to the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, Stientje van Veldhoven. This knowledge agenda describes the most important knowledge gaps and calls for more research. ZonMw, together with other research funding bodies, has made an important first step in the right direction for further solution-focussed research. On behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, ZonMw carried out a foresight study into the need for knowledge about microplastics and health. This has resulted in the knowledge agenda What do micro-plastics do in our body?. This knowledge agenda was produced in collaboration with various relevant parties: researchers, companies, policymakers, NGOs and other stakeholders.
Knowledge agenda’s recommendations

The Netherlands is one of the first countries in the world to have funded research into the health effects of microplastics. This is a good first step, but further research is desperately needed. The knowledge agenda clearly recommends further research. Fundamental research remains important and must also be expanded with research into exposure. The research infrastructure must be safeguarded and collaboration within the research is crucial, with a special focus on implementing the results in practice. Many parties have a considerable need for this knowledge, such as parties that produce and process plastics and are striving to achieve a circular economy, but also organisations responsible for water, air and food quality.


The key message from the knowledge agenda is the need for more research. ZonMw, TNO and Health~Holland, together with various knowledge institutions and industrial partners, are taking a first step in this direction. They are jointly providing 5.4 million euros in funding for the MOMENTUM consortium. The aim of this consortium is to determine the effects of micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNPs) on human health and ultimately to prevent this. First of all, methods will be developed to analyse and measure MNPs in the human body. Next, research will be conducted into where in the human body these plastic particles might be absorbed. This can occur via the airways and the gastrointestinal tract and it remains to be seen whether these plastic particles could end up in the brain or in an unborn child. Finally, the potential effects of MNPs on our immune system will also be investigated.

The MOMENTUM consortium builds upon the work of 15 breakthrough projects that started in the spring of 2019 within the ZonMw research programme Microplastics & Health. These projects focussed on the same subjects. ‘We know very little about whether MNPs are actually absorbed by the body’, says Juliette Legler (Utrecht University), Professor of Toxicology and project leader of MOMENTUM. ‘There are initial indications for this but we will now investigate it using far more samples from human blood and various tissues. That will help us to gain a better understanding of exposure in humans and to determine how serious this exposure is. In addition, we want to record the effects of MNPs. If we know what is actually absorbed in the body and what the effects of this are, then together with industry we can search for solutions to prevent exposure.’ Toxicologist Dick Vethaak (Deltares), also project leader of MOMENTUM, agrees with this: ‘It is a very complex and long-term study. However, we are making good progress in the Netherlands and we expect to make a considerable step forwards in the coming years. We will also search for potential new dangers of plastic particles. The first ZonMw projects revealed that certain bacteria and viruses thrive on plastic and can therefore enter the body via MNPs. Now we will further investigate what effect that might have on our health.’

In MOMENTUM, researchers from universities, university hospitals and research organisations will work together with companies and important stakeholders. Through scientific knowledge,
MOMENTUM will make an important contribution to solving the societal problem of MNPs in our living environment. Therefore, according to Legler, MOMENTUM’s impact will extend beyond the current project duration of three years; ‘The project is a next step towards an investment in the national infrastructure for microplastics, in which all parties jointly seek solutions instead of working independently from one another.’
More research needed

This consortium is just a first small step in the right direction for continued further research. The presentation of the knowledge agenda is simultaneously a call to the parties involved to invest in research. Within ZonMw, there are several initiatives that focus on a healthy living environment and how, through healthy behaviour, this can contribute to people’s overall health. The topic of microplastics therefore falls within these initiatives. More research is needed to make a difference and in this, collaboration plays a crucial role.

Further information about microplastics research within ZonMw and the digital edition of the knowledge agenda can be found at www.zonmw.nl/microplastics-onderzoek

Questions from the press

For questions from the press, please contact ZonMw spokesperson Cassandra Appelman (appelman@zonmw.nl, +31 6 8312 4710).

Microplastics & Health projects

Begin 2019 ZonMw started projects about microplastics and the effects on our health. Read about the most important results of these researches. Microplastics project results

Bekijk deze pagina in het Nederlands

news-6571 Wed, 25 Nov 2020 14:46:10 +0100 Pre-announcement: new round of ZonMw Open Competion in the fall of 2021 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/pre-announcement-new-round-of-zonmw-open-competion-in-the-fall-of-2021/ Fall of 2021 researchers can apply again for the ZonMw Open Competition. Originally the start of a new call for proposals was February 2021, but as a result of the COVID pandememic the current round is prolonged. This has consequences for the following calls, so we had to take measures and adapt the schedule. More information and the exact time table with deadlines for the new call for proposals will follow in 2021.

The aim of the ZonMw Open Competition is to create space for excellent, curiosity-driven, groundbreaking science. The grant offers excellent research groups the opportunity to renew their line of research, enter into new collaborations and perform studies of exceptional quality in the field of health.

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news-6527 Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:00:00 +0100 Award for RAPDIF https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/award-for-rapdif/ On 19 November, during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, ZonMw awarded a Parel (Award) to Dr. Henk Schallig, parasitologist at Amsterdam UMC. He received the award for the RAPDIF study, which developed better tools and knowledge for tackling fever and malaria in Africa. One of the biggest causes of fever is malaria, a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people in Africa every year, the majority of them children under the age of five. The RAPDIF study found that the diagnosis and treatment of fever in young children in Africa is often inadequate. Rapid malaria tests are not reliable enough and, in the absence of a proper diagnosis, children with fever are often treated with both anti-malaria drugs and antibiotics. The antibiotics were found to be of no benefit in no fewer than 50 to 90% of cases.

New rapid test

The RAPDIF researchers approached the problem from two angles: making rapid malaria tests more reliable, and identifying other causes of fever. The study was performed by a group of Dutch and Burkinabe researchers in Burkina Faso. Together, they succeeded in developing a new rapid malaria test that is no less than a hundred times more sensitive that the current rapid tests. Local health workers were found to have more faith in the new test. A follow-up study involving 5700 children and adults in five African countries will show whether the new malaria test works on a large scale.

Bacterial diagnostic test

The RAPDIF team also discovered that, besides malaria, fever in young children is commonly caused by four types of bacteria: E-coli, Salmonella typhi, Pneumococcus and Streptococcus. The researchers worked on a rapid diagnostic test to detect these bacteria in blood, but this is a difficult technical challenge. Provided they secure funding, they hope to enable a rapid test for these bacteria which, combined with the rapid malaria test, would allow fever to be treated in a much more targeted way. Children could be given the correct treatment, either anti-malaria drugs or antibiotics.

International research

This would also help curb antimicrobial resistance. ‘Infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance are good friends, travelling the world hand in hand, with no regard for borders or differences between people’, Henk Schallig explained. ‘The fact that we received this award for our work underlines the importance of international research into resistance. Knowledge gained in other parts of the world is very important for the Netherlands, and vice versa. The ZonMw and NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development grant for our RAPDIF study contributed a huge amount of extra knowledge about use of medicines, diagnostics and resistance, and also about capacity-building in Burkina Faso. For our team in Burkina Faso and the Netherlands, the Parel is a huge encouragement to continue this work, and that is just what we plan to do.’

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news-6513 Mon, 16 Nov 2020 17:56:31 +0100 Recent publications from international AMR projects with Dutch participation https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/recent-publications-from-international-amr-projects-with-dutch-participation/ On behalf of the Netherlands, we are part of the international partnership Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR), currently a collaboration between 28 member countries. Many projects funded under the framework of the JPIAMR already resulted in outstanding publications that range over One Health areas (Human, Animal, Environment). Here we highlight three projects. These projects are co-funded by ZonMw, with Dutch coordinators and/or project partners that recently published their results. Below are the summaries of the highlighted publications across the priority topics of the JPIAMR Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA).

WGS snapshot of MDR Klebsiella pneumoniae strains from WWTPs

A publication in PlosOne, 2020 from the project AWARE reported genomic characterization of 47 multi-drug resistant, carbapenem resistant and ESBL-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from hospitals and receiving wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Southern Romania. The presented results enrich the knowledge of the epidemiological context of ESKAPE pathogens at national and European level, a major step in the implementation of reliable surveillance and actions plans.

Priority topic SRIA: Environment
Call on Transmission Dynamics, 2016
Consortium coordinator: Ana Maria de Roda Husman, Centre Infectious Disease Control, RIVM, Netherlands.
Including partners from: Netherlands, Sweden, Romania, Germany, Australia, Switzerland
Involved funders: ZonMw, SRC/FORMAS, ANCSI, BMBF/DLR

A digital antimicrobial stewardship smartphone application

AB-Assistant published a study protocol to evaluate the impact of digital antimicrobial stewardship smartphone application on quantity and quality of antimicrobial drug prescribing for the hospital setting in BMJ Open, 2020. This study is now registered for an international randomised, multicentre, clinical trial. (Trial registration number: NCT03793946, ClinicalTrials.gov registry).

Priority topic SRIA: Interventions
Call on Prevention and Intervention strategies to Control AMR infections, 2017
Consortium coordinator: Annelies Verbon, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Erasmus University Medical Center, Netherlands.
Including partners from: Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Romania, Czech Republic
Involved funders: ZonMw, SRC, SNSF, CIHR

COM-Blockers reduce the spread of virulence factors and antibiotic resistance

The project COMBINATORIALS published an article in Cell Host & Microbe, 2020 where they identified potent competence inhibitors in Streptococcus pneumoniae, called COM-blockers. These compounds disrupt proton motive force, block natural competence (COM) and interrupt intraspecies horizontal gene transfer and exchange of antibiotic resistance. Such strategies might minimize clinical spread of antibiotic resistance.

Priority topic SRIA: Therapeutics
Antimicrobial Resistance through the JPIAMR, 2015
Consortium coordinator: Typas Athanasios, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Genome Biology Unit, Germany.
Dutch project partner: Jan-Willem Veening, Molecular Genetics Department, University of Groningen
Including partners from: Germany, Netherlands, France, Sweden
Involved funders: DRL, ZonMw, ANR, SCR
The entire list of the publications from the projects and networks supported under the JPIAMR framework is also available on the webpage: www.jpiamr.eu/scientific-articles

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news-6442 Thu, 05 Nov 2020 09:08:00 +0100 161 researchers awarded a NWO Veni grant worth 250,000 euros https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/161-researchers-awarded-a-nwo-veni-grant-worth-250000-euros/ The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a Veni grant worth up to 250,000 euros to 161 highly promising young scientists. The grant provides the laureates with the opportunity to further elaborate their own ideas during a period of three years. The Veni laureates will conduct research on a variety of subjects such as the impact of social networks on democracy, the development of a biosensor that contributes to the revelation of fingerprints, and sustainable hydrogen that benefits the energy transition. The Veni will also be employed to investigate the shared focal point of common diseases and rare diseases, metabolic potentiation of vaccines, and the dynamic prediction, monitoring and recommendations for late effects after breast cancer.

25 of the 161 rewarded researchers will contribute to innovation and new knowledge for health care and medical research.

Veni is part of the NWO Talent Programma which ZonMw executes for the domain of Health Care and Medical Reserch

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news-6430 Wed, 04 Nov 2020 09:20:00 +0100 81 researchers receive NWO-Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/81-researchers-receive-nwo-vidi-grant-worth-800000-euros/ The Dutch Research Council has awarded 81 experienced researchers 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. With the grant the Vidi laureates will do research on a variety of subjects including computational models that help understand social tipping points and ways to stronger assess climate adaptation policy. The Vidi will also help researchers develop a new system that gives robots an awareness of their physical limitations, even after failures. Another research will focus on the development of advanced computer models to improve the treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

15 of the 81 rewarded researchers will contribute to innovation and new knowledge for health care and medical research.

Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programma which ZonMw executes for the domain of Health Care and Medical Reserch

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news-6415 Wed, 28 Oct 2020 10:47:58 +0100 New research into promotion of the health potential of people in a lower socioeconomic position https://www.nwo.nl/en/news-and-events/news/2020/10/new-research-into-improved-use-of-health-potential-of-people-in-a-lower-socioeconomic-position.html How can the health potential of people in a lower socioeconomic position be better engaged and promoted? This is the key question in a new call for proposals from the NWA. news-6374 Mon, 19 Oct 2020 09:04:20 +0200 Largest study ever on research integrity launches, aimed at all researchers in the Netherlands https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/largest-study-ever-on-research-integrity-launches-aimed-at-all-researchers-in-the-netherlands/ The National Survey on Research Integrity (NSRI) is being distributed to nearly 40,000 researchers in the Netherlands starting today. The survey marks the starts of not only the largest study ever conducted, worldwide,on research integrity, but also the first and largest study to target the entire research communityin the Netherlands, acrossall disciplines. The survey seeks to sketch as accurate and complete a picture as possible of theissues that can foster or hinder research integrity, such as open science practices, competitiveness, trust in published studies, work pressure, and questionable and responsible research practices.

“We are living in a time when scientific research and outcomes are essential to making decisions that affect the general populationand our country’s welfare,” said professor Lex Bouter, project leader for the NSRI. “There is much at stake, and it is imperative that those who are relying on science can also trust our research practices.”

The NSRI is one ofthe projects in the Fostering Responsible Research Practices (FRRP) programme, conducting “research about research”and underwritten by the Dutch organisations ZonMw, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and their partners. ZonMw, NWO and their partners are investing a total of 3.8 million euros over five years to realise the four pillars of the FRRP programme, of which the NSRI is one of.

According to FRRP: “By means of the NSRI, we will gain insight into the nature and causes of questionable research practices. The results will be used to implement substantiated improvements.

"Why research integrity –and why now?"

Different to ethics, research integrity generally refers to the principles and standards whose purpose it is to ensure validity and trustworthiness of research,” according to Gowri Gopalakrishna, the post-doc researcher on the NSRI team. “It has become an urgent topic not only in the Netherlands, but also worldwide, especially with the open science movement.”

Accelerated scientific publishing during the Covid-19 pandemic is an example that Bouter, Gopalakrishna and their team have cited as a reason to bring research integrity topics to the front of researchers’ attention, noting that the first four months of the pandemic resultedin muchmore related scientific publishing than in 2003 with the outbreak of SARS.

“The rapidly increasing number of publications combined with the urgency to quickly understand the new pathogen presents a significant challenge for maintaining the integrity of the underlying evidence base, and to ensure that research is conducted according to global standards of research integrity,” Gopalakrishna and Bouterargue in a commentarywritten in June 2020 for British Medical Journal Opinion.

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news-6307 Tue, 06 Oct 2020 16:37:10 +0200 Powerful US research funder unveils strict open-access policy https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02793-5?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=f99132318c-briefing-dy-20201002&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-f99132318c-43672369 One of the world’s richest biomedical research organizations, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), announced on 1 October that it will require scientists it funds to make papers open access (OA) as soon as they are published — a change to its current policy, which allows a delay of up to one year before results must be free to read. news-6296 Tue, 06 Oct 2020 13:25:00 +0200 Overview of AMR-related resources and services https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/overview-of-amr-related-resources-and-services/ It is with pleasure that we share the public report on the survey set out to create an overview of resources and services related to antimicrobial resistance research. We would like to thank everyone who provided input, participated and/or shared the AMR survey. We are very delighted with the interesting insights it provided. Public report and dashboard – make sure to check it out!

It is with pleasure that we share with you two things:

  1. The public report of the survey results. View the public report
  2. A selection of the results are now also presented in an interactive and user-friendly dashboard that can be used by the entire AMR research community. View the interactive dashboard.

We could not have done this without the AMR community!

Next steps

Another survey will be set out to collect more detailed information about individual resources and services, and to address issues related to their findability, reuse, sustainability, and quality. For the next survey we strive to use a machine-readable metadata scheme, ensuring that the input is documented according to a standardised & community-agreed description, is interoperable, and remains up-to-date!

Feel free to share

You are more than welcome to further distribute the public report and dashboard within your network.

This is an initiative by ZonMw (the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) on behalf of the consortia JPIAMR and VALUE-Dx.

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news-6284 Tue, 08 Sep 2020 14:00:00 +0200 COVID-19 funding round for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/covid-19-funding-round-for-the-caribbean-part-of-the-kingdom-of-the-netherlands/ Within the COVID-19 Programme, ZonMw and NWO have opened a funding round that is specifically intended for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Reason for funding round

The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. Measures that have been taken worldwide, such as travel restrictions, have led to the loss of tourism to these countries. The considerable dependence on this sector, combined with the small scale of operations in the region, has resulted in many residents no longer having an income. At the lower side of the labour market, in particular, many jobs have been lost. Vulnerable groups in society are the worst-hit.

Solutions through research

There is no simple solution to this complex issue. Research is needed to offer government bodies and residents of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom a way out of this crisis and possible future crises too. How do you ensure that societies and economies become resilient? What works and what does not? The focus is on two subjects:
-    Protecting vulnerable groups in society;
-    Building up a more diverse and accordingly more resilient economy.
As part of the COVID-19 Programme – focus area Societal Dynamics -  this funding round therefore focuses on these two subjects.

Planning and budget

From 8 September 2020 onwards, research proposals can be submitted to ZonMw by the universities of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Martin. A total of € 500,000 is available and applicants can apply for a maximum of € 250,000 per project. The intended maximum duration of the projects is 18 months. The deadline for submitting proposals is 27 October 2020. The projects can start at the end of November.

More information

•    See the call for proposals COVID-19: Societal dynamics in the Dutch Caribbean
•    Read more about current and completed studies into COVID-19
•    Go to the page about the COVID-19 Programme

news-6102 Tue, 01 Sep 2020 09:41:36 +0200 Animal-free innovations for better COVID-19 research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/animal-free-innovations-for-better-covid-19-research/ This summer, 40 research projects into the coronavirus pandemic and the consequences of thisstarted with funding from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. We rapidly need a lot of knowledge about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease COVID-19. Animal-free models can play a role in that because the results can be better translated to humans and yield outcomes faster. Five projects with animal-free research will therefore start. In April of this year, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport made 40 million euros available to ZonMw and NWO for research into the coronavirus pandemic and the consequences of this for society, such as the illness COVID-19. The research results should become available as quickly as possible for everybody who has an interest in this illness: doctors and nurses, national and municipal governments, care providers and citizens. With animal-free innovations, research can be done better and faster. And that is vitally important now: the committee of the ZonMw research programme More Knowledge with Fewer Animals therefore made extra funding available to realise projects with such animal-free innovations within the research programme COVID-19. ‘I’m proud of the performance delivered by everyone involved, applicants and assessors, because an awful lot of work was realised in a short space of time’, says Dick Tommel, chair of the committee More Knowledge with Fewer Animals.

The Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing also made funding available for this call for proposals. ‘Many animal experiments are performed for research into COVID-19. We will almost certainly see that in the figures’, says Debby Weijers of the Society. ‘With this initiative, we want to contribute to COVID-19 research without animal experiments. For this disease in particular – and similar diseases in the future – we hope to achieve a lot with human models. That is because these models reveal far more accurately how the disease progresses in humans. Also, with human models, we can personalise the research, for example by using stem cells or computer simulations based on patient data. With such approaches, we can better investigate why the virus makes certain groups more ill than others. Animal models will not be able to provide an answer to these and other questions.’

Exemplary projects

In this special round, embedded in the COVID-19 call for proposals, five projects were selected that make broader use of existing animal-free innovation or make the development of new animal-free innovations possible.

A heparin puff against coronavirus infection? - Theo Geijtenbeek (Amsterdam UMC)

Theo Geijtenbeek, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Immunology at Amsterdam UMC, will lead research into the possible preventive effect of the anticoagulant low molecular weight heparin against SARS-CoV-2. Already, COVID-19 patients are now immediately administered heparin by means of injections when they are hospitalised in order to prevent blood clots. But Geijtenbeek and his group discovered that this drug also blocks the binding of the virus to cells and consequently prevents infection. Now they want to investigate whether inhaling heparin can have a preventive effect so that, for example, healthcare personnel can use a heparin inhaler to protect themselves from infection. The first step in the research is innovative, says a proud Geijtenbeek. Volunteers will be asked to inhale heparin via the nose. Subsequently, the researchers will remove some nasal mucosa cells (just like during a coronavirus test) and will subsequently expose these cells to the virus to investigate the antiviral effect of heparin. Geijtenbeek: ‘We want to do it in this way to prevent the need for animal experiments and so that we can enter the clinical phase earlier. And time is an important factor in this pandemic’. In addition, the research group will make use of a dynamic human cell model to further investigate the effect of heparin on the coronavirus infection.

A broadly applicable dynamic model – Robbert Rottier (Sophia Children’s Hospital)

A dynamic cell model is a research setup that the consortium led by Robbert Rottier, senior researcher at the Pulmonology Department of the Sophia Children’s Hospital, will use for their research. Static lung systems are used a lot in today’s coronavirus research. The disadvantage of these models is that they only simulate the functioning of human lung cells to a limited extent. Therefore, Rottier’s team, together with professor Roman Truckenmüller from Maastricht University and the MERLN Institute, will produce a closed dynamic system. They will use an existing bioreactor to simultaneously culture human cells from both the epithelium of both the respiratory passages and blood vessels. By transporting microfluids through this, a dynamic system will arise. That can be used to better study the development and progression of our infections such as COVID-19. Through the collaboration with Truckenmüller, an expert in the area of nanotechnology and biochips, and the MERLN institute, this system can also be rapidly produced at a commercial scale and made available to laboratories. The team is also working on a protocol so that the model can be used without the need for extra training. According to Rottier, working on animal-free innovations has additional advantages: ‘Since we started working on this type of innovation, we have increasingly looked for alternatives within the research group, and our use of laboratory animals has decreased.’

Combining human cell models with genetic characteristics – Jeffrey Beekman (UMC Utrecht)

Working on animal-free innovations can make researchers more aware of how they do their research. It is also what Jeffrey Beekman, Professor of Cellular Disease Models at University Medical Center Utrecht discovered. ‘Before this, I did not particularly focus on animal-free research, but the call for proposals and writing the proposal has made me more aware of this. I now pay more attention to the materials I work with, such as the human cells that originate from individuals and the serum that I use to allow those cells to grow. That serum often has an animal origin.’ For research into COVID-19, Beekman and his research team will use cell models to study how the coronavirus infection works in vivo on various organs: upper respiratory passages (nose), lower respiratory passages (lungs), intestines and kidneys. ‘By combining these models with unique genetic characteristics of the cell donors, you can compare the different tissues and discover factors that influence the effects of the coronavirus and the efficacy of the drugs used against it’, says Beekman. ‘In the case of COVID-19, that is particularly important because the virus affects various organs.’

Microchips as mini-patients with COVID-19 – Andries van der Meer (University of Twente)

How can you simulate a COVID-19 patient so that you can investigate why some patients develop blood clots? That was the question which Andries van der Meer, Associate Professor in Applied Stem Cell Technology at the University of Twente, and his team will tackle. Some 10-30% of people with COVID-19 who are hospitalised, end up developing blood clots. Consequently, this group of patients has a far worse prognosis. The basis for the project is a model of mini-blood vessels on a microchip developed by the University of Twente. By adding blood plasma from patients to this model, Van der Meer and his team hope to develop models of COVID-19 patients. These models can then be used to simulate the development of blood clots. To realise this, they sought collaboration with Saskia Middeldorp, Professor of Internal Medicine at Amsterdam UMC, and Christine Mummery, Professor of Developmental Biology at Leiden University Medical Center. For the research, it is vital that material from different patients with and without COVID-19 is used. Because why do some COVID-19 patients suffer from these clots and hypoxia, whereas others do not? These individual models will function as mini-patients on which treatments and drugs can be tested in the second phase. For Van der Meer, the use of these human models is a logical step: ‘The technology has developed in such a way over the past 5 to 10 years that we can now make models that closely resemble humans and consequently make a fast “turn-over’ towards patients. The reflex of using animal models in medical research is deeply rooted. However, with the extra tools that are now at our disposal, we can do exciting things that have added value and are animal-free.’

Better insight into lung damage due to COVID-19 – Pieter Hiemstra (Leiden University Medical Center)

Patients recover slowly from COVID-19, and it seems that both the virus and the immune system’s response to the virus cause damage to the alveoli. How do the cells that cover the respiratory passages and alveoli, the epithelial cells, respond to the virus and how does that response contribute to lung damage? These are the questions that Pieter Hiemstra, Professor of Cell Biology and
Immunology of Lung Diseases, will tackle together with his colleagues from Leiden University Medical Center. For the research, the team will make use of tested human cell models, organoids andconventional culture models. In the first phase, epithelial cells from, among other things, the nose and alveoli will be cultured to examine what the virus does with the different cell types.

news-6091 Mon, 31 Aug 2020 09:43:46 +0200 Open Access: more impact from research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/open-access-more-impact-from-research/ Open Access publishing ensures that research is quickly and easily accessible. During the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of that has become clearer than ever before. For example, doctors and patients search for information about the treatment of COVID-19. To increase the impact of knowledge, ZonMw will tighten the guidelines for Open Access with effect from 1 January 2021. What will change? Better research and more impact through Open Access

Sharing publications and data in a quick and accessible manner (Open Access) helps science, healthcare and education to progress. Doctors, patients, policymakers and professional practitioners can immediately make use of the most recent insights and data. The quality of research and data improves because colleagues can immediately examine the results published and can reproduce experiments in their own lab. It also improves national and international collaboration between researchers. Furthermore, It becomes clear at an earlier stage if something does not work, which means that research can then be adjusted or stopped. For example, it was mainly thanks to Open Access publications that the efficacy and safety of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 patients was quickly shown to be inadequate. Jeroen Geurts, chair of the board of ZonMw: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has very clearly underlined the importance of Open Access publishing’.

Implementation of Plan S

Since 2013, ZonMw has required researchers to make all publications that emerge from research that is partially or entirely funded by ZonMw available in Open Access form. A study by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) reveals that in 2018 that was already the case for 60% of publications. ZonMw wants to accelerate this positive development. In mid-2019, ZonMw endorsed Plan S for Open Access. This plan has been drawn up by cOAlition S, an international collaboration of research councils, with the aim of realising 100% Open Access. Just like NWO, ZonMw will implement the guidelines from Plan S this year.

Direct 100% Open Access from 1 January 2021 onwards

The principles of Plan S apply to all call proposals that ZonMw publishes with effect from 1 January 2021. Therefore, compared to 2020, ZonMw will further tighten the guidelines. In practice, this means, for example, that there is free access to the publications and no embargo period between the date of publication in a journal and the publication being freely accessible online. Publication will also be under a Creative Commons licence, enabling sharing/reuse of results. Also retainment of copyright by authors or institutes will be aimed for.

Obstacles to overcome

Many researchers already publish in Open Access form but not in all cases and not always directly. The implementation of Plan S will therefore provide researchers from ZonMw projects opportunities but also obstacles that need to be overcome. For example, researchers experience that large sums sometimes have to be paid for Open Access publishing. That problem is currently being worked on, for example through national agreements between universities and publishers. ZonMw will also examine possible solutions to this problem. Rob Diemel, ZonMw coordinator Open Science: ‘ZonMw wants encourage Open Access via several routes so the project leaders can make their own choices. For example, in new funding rounds from 2021 onwards, applicants can include a post in the project budget for publication via the so-called full golden route (publications that are immediately free and accessible for everybody ). We will also facilitate the green route by offering researchers access to a repository that is frequently used worldwide. This will lead to the more rapid spread of research results and will offer researchers greater visibility.’

Open Access to utilise knowledge in society

Even though the transition from publishing behind paywalls to Open Access is a difficult process, Jeroen Geurts also sees that researchers are increasingly embracing Open Access: ‘Of course, researchers also feel the need to allow their findings to be used by society. In the case of COVID-19 research programmes, you can see that there is a considerable amount of expertise in the Netherlands to counteract the medical and non-medical negative effects of COVID-19. Rapid access to each other’s research and being able to make use of each other’s research is vitally important for researchers, especially if they are working in a race against the clock.’

Recognising and rewarding researchers

Open Access also requires a different way of recognising and rewarding researchers. Open Access publications are easy to find, are cited more often and have a greater reach. It is important that researchers are rewarded for the quality of their research and its importance for science and/or society, and not for controversial indicators such as the journal impact factor and H-index. Therefore, from 2021 onwards, the DORA (Declaration on Research Assessment) principles will be used in the assessment and selection of ZonMw funding proposals. Amongst other things, that should lead to another way of recognising and rewarding researchers.

Requiring but also informing and facilitating

During the course of 2020, ZonMw will mainly focus on implementing the guidelines from Plan S and informing and advising researchers and project teams about the Open Access publication of their research. The ZonMw Open Access team will also facilitate this implementation by including the guidelines and the processes and thoroughly preparing ZonMw employees for these changes so that they can help applicants. All of the information can be found on the ZonMw website and, of course, if you have any questions, you can contact the employees of the Open Access team.

More information

news-6072 Wed, 26 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0200 Societal effects of COVID-19 examined https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/societal-effects-of-covid-19-examined/ 20 new research projects will soon begin to investigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Dutch society. 11 more projects will receive funding after additional administrative steps. These research projects will focus on the impact of the measures taken, the resilience of society, and the economic consequences for society. Thanks to the quick start and short duration of the projects, the studies can provide relevant knowledge in the short term. Effectiveness and impact of measures

Projects that are part of this theme will examine the effectiveness and impact of the measures taken and of the strategies in response to the coronavirus crisis. The projects range from research into the well-being and sustainable deployment of healthcare staff to research into the effect of the measures taken on the constitutional rights of vulnerable plaintiffs in particular, and their confidence in the justice system. Other examples are research into the lessons that we can learn from the measures taken by other European countries, and research into the preferences for introducing COVID-19 apps in the Netherlands.

Human resilience and society

Within this theme, the research mainly focuses on groups who during the coronavirus crisis have been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the measures taken in either the social or societal spheres. For example, research will be done into the educational disadvantage experienced by underprivileged (primary school) pupils and also new vulnerable groups that have arisen (such as sole proprietors and people with a temporary job, including many young people). Furthermore, the mental and physical long-term effects on former COVID-19 patients and healthcare employees will be investigated.

Consequences and solutions for the economy

Research into the economic resilience focuses on the effect of the crisis on various sectors of the economy, the labour market and support measures. For example, one study focuses on strengthening the regional economic structure with the aim of increasing the national economic resilience in the long term. In addition, research will be done into to what extent and in what way sectors in regions are affected by the corona crisis and what explains the differences in resilience and agility of regions.

COVID-19 Programme

More information about the projects will soon be available on the ZonMw website. These research projects are starting in the context of a large action and research programme concerning the new coronavirus that ZonMw set up in collaboration with NWO in May. Research projects into the diagnostics, treatment and prevention of the coronavirus began last month. In addition, more than 50 collaborations have been established within this programme between research institutions and civil society organisations.

More information 

news-6016 Fri, 07 Aug 2020 13:42:01 +0200 ZonMw’s approach to optimize reuse of COVID-19 related data https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmws-approach-to-optimize-reuse-of-covid-19-related-data/ Under the urgency of the outbreak of the corona pandemic, we take a number of actions to enable researchers in ZonMw’s COVID-19 projects to create FAIR data that can be used by humans as well as machines. As a result, data become findable through computer search, and accessible for learning-algorithms (comparable to the Personal Health Train concept). The results of the activities are available for the entire research community of COVID-19. VODAN for COVID-19 patient data

In spring 2020, ZonMw commissioned the GO FAIR initiative and its VODAN (Virus Outbreak Data Access Network) Implementation Network to make COVID-19 related data FAIR.  As a result, real world COVID-19 patient data become available for research, under well-defined conditions and with patient privacy well protected.

In summer 2020, the VODAN project delivered a proof of concept of a working VODAN infrastructure to open up COVID-19 patient data via so called FAIR Data Points: VODAN-in-a box. It is made up of a number of components:

  1. A semantic data model based on the case report form (CRF) following the WHO standards;
  2. Localized VODAN FAIR Data Points (FDP’s), where the (meta)data of the machine-readable eCRF files could be hosted. Several FDP’s have been installed, in the Netherlands, USA and on the African continent (funded by the Philips Foundation).
  3. A user-friendly data-entry-wizard, allowing data stewards in the local clinic or hospital to capture patient data in the CRF.
  4. Creating/updating the metadata on the installed VODAN FDP’s, “link” the patient data and indicate if the data can be shared.
  5. A simple tool to allow queries to “visit” the (meta) data across multiple FDP’s, thereby performing analysis based upon certain characteristics of the recorded patients.

FAIR data services and a national COVID-19 data portal

As a next step, building on the knowledge and deliverables from VODAN, ZonMw has commissioned the GO FAIR Foundation and the Health-RI Foundation to develop FAIR data services and a national COVID-19 data portal. These services will support researchers in the creation of FAIR research outputs, and to find and reuse COVID-19 related observational data from Dutch health care providers (taking privacy and other ethical, legal and social issues in to account).

An advanced approach for creating FAIR data

The FAIR data services will function as a three-point FAIRification Framework, where FAIR metadata are crafted for each project (1) as part of the overall COVID-19 Programme FAIR Implementation Profile (2) which then configures the FAIR Data Point (3) where COVID-19 Programme research outputs can be easily discovered and reused. The planned national COVID-19 data portal will form a human friendly interface to the metadata and observational hospital data.

Data experts collaborate with domain experts

A crucial aspect of the FAIRification approach is that domain experts collaborate with data experts in order to include the standards, technologies and infrastructure that match the research community, in this case COVID-19. We will therefore facilitate that COVID-19 researchers and data stewards from ZonMw projects make use of the three-point FAIRification Framework, with the support of the FAIR data experts from GO FAIR and Health-RI.

Workshops and training

Researchers and data stewards from ZonMw’s COVID-19 projects are invited for a workshop series in autumn 2020 for an introduction to the FAIRification framework, and to take part in tailoring the framework to the needs of the COVID-19 research community.
In addition, data stewards from the ZonMw projects will be trained by and get support from the FAIR data experts of GO FAIR and Health-RI. Support through the data steward community will be organised within the Data Stewardship Special Interest Group (DSIG).

Taken together, by taking part in these activities, researchers and data stewards create – as a minimum - FAIR metadata for their research data. They thereby allow other research on COVID-19 to directly benefit from their activities, and accelerate solutions for the corona crisis. In a broader sense, they contribute to a growing knowledge base on FAIR data, enabling innovative research methods.

More information

news-5961 Tue, 21 Jul 2020 12:27:58 +0200 Innovative research awarded funding in COVID-19 Programme https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/innovative-research-awarded-funding-in-covid-19-programme/ Within the COVID-19 Programme, a total of 40 projects have now been awarded funding. In addition, 12 more projects will receive funding after additional administrative steps. In this programme, research will start that focuses on the effects of the measures against the coronavirus pandemic. This concerns a substantial financial injection in the Dutch research field. With this funding, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, together with ZonMw and the Dutch Research Council (NWO), is focusing on the rapid introduction of innovative measures that emerge from these projects. Research across the full breadth of healthcare

An effective approach to the coronavirus pandemic is associated with many knowledge requirements and research questions. The COVID-19 Programme has three focus areas:

  • Predictive diagnostics and treatment
  • Care and prevention
  • Societal dynamics

Predictive diagnostics and treatment

Within focus area 1, “Predictive diagnostics and treatment”, 17 of the 22 eligible projects were awarded funding. Several of these projects focus on new or existing therapies and their modes of action. Other projects focus, for example, on acquiring insights into the microbiome, immunity, predictive parameters and individualised treatments.
An example of such a project is: A phase 2 clinical study necessary for the clinical development of the drug lanadelumab against COVID-19 from Dr R. Brüggemann and Dr F. van de Veerdonk from Radboudumc. In this project, it will be investigated whether the intravenous administration of lanadelumab can prevent and reduce the need for the external administration of oxygen – necessary due to lung oedema – during the COVID-19 infection.

Animal-free innovations

Besides the 22 projects stated, 5 projects within focus area 1 will do research into the development of new or broader applications of existing animal-free innovations. The ZonMw programme “More Knowledge with Fewer Animals” and the Dutch Society for Replacement of Animal Testing made more than 2 million euros available for this. The ultimate aim is more relevant health and healthcare research for people.

Care and prevention

Within focus area 2, “Care and prevention”, 20 of the 25 eligible projects were awarded funding. These projects focus on the organisation of care and vulnerable citizens. In addition, there is specific attention for care providers. The focus is on:

  • The impact of behaviour and behavioural changes on the spread of the virus
  • The consequences of the measures for the individual or the specific vulnerable groups
  • Spread of the epidemic and measures to prevent this

For example, there is the project “TRACE II: Patient outcomes after postponed elective operations during the COVID-19 pandemic” from Dr D. de Korte-de Boer and Prof. Wolfgang Buhre (Department of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Maastricht University Medical Center+). In this project, the effect of postponing non-acute operations during the COVID-19 pandemic will be investigated by a consortium of 10 institutions, including 4 university hospitals and 5 peripheral hospitals.

Palliative care

Within focus area 2, five projects in the programme “Palliantie. More than care” are eligible for funding. Three of those have now been awarded funding. The projects focus on support and grief counselling for the family and friends of people who have died. There is also attention for the impact of social isolation due to COVID-19 on intra- and extramural care for people with dementia in the palliative phase.

Duration and budget

The COVID-19 Programme has been funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and NWO. For this action and research programme a total of 40 million euros has been made available for grants for practice and research projects. At the end of August, the granting decision will be taken for the proposals from focus area 3 “Societal dynamics”. All projects will start in September 2020.

Exceptional situation

The coronavirus crisis has had a considerable impact, also on public health and healthcare. There is a huge demand for new knowledge and practical solutions to limit the negative consequences of the pandemic. Research is needed to learn from the negative and positive experiences, both now and in the longer term. Therefore, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and in collaboration with NWO, we prepared an action and research programme in March 2020 that, amongst other things, resulted in the COVID-19 Programme. The speed with which this was realised was an enormous challenge for the grant applicants, NWO and us.

More information


news-5744 Fri, 29 May 2020 14:33:32 +0200 Update COVID-19 Programme: many applications https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/update-covid-19-programme-many-applications/ The interest for our calls for proposals within the COVID-19 Programme is considerable. In the past few weeks, we were pleased to receive many applications. In this update, you can read about the current state of affairs and the planning for the coming period. The COVID-19 Programme is a collaboration between ZonMw and NWO, and funds research that focuses on the effects of the coronavirus crisis and the measures taken against the coronavirus pandemic. Knowledge, practical solutions and research are urgently needed because limiting the negative consequences of the pandemic is a top priority.

Considerable interest

The funding rounds of the three focus areas yielded a lot of project ideas. We received 120 grant applications for the funding possibility Science for professional practice.

  • From 1 to 14 May, the bottom-up funding round was open for the submission of project ideas for focus area 1, Predictive diagnostics and treatment, and focus area 2, Care and prevention. We received 189 project ideas for focus area 1 and 306 for focus area 2
  • From 8 to 25 May, the bottom-up funding round for focus area 3 Societal dynamics was open. We received 508 project ideas for this
  • From 8 to 25 May, the funding round Science for professional practice was also open. A total of 120 research proposals were received for this

Granting Urgent Research Questions

Previously research groups were invited for the route Urgent research questions. From this route two proposals for focus area 1, Predictive diagnostics and treatment have provisionally been assessed and selected for granting. Two other proposals for focus area 2, Care and prevention also have been granted. At this moment three proposals for urgent research questions are being worked out in a full proposal for focus area 3, Societal dynamics and will be assessed soon.


The next step for the three focus areas is the assessment of the proposals by the committees. If the committee issues a positive advice, then the applicants will receive an invitation to elaborate their project idea into a research proposal. At that moment, FAQs about this will be published on our website.
The selection procedure for the research proposals for Science for professional practice will start shortly.

The most up-to-date information about the process and the planning can be found on the various programme pages (only in Dutch):

  • Focus area 1: Predictive diagnostics and treatment
  • Focus area 2: Care and prevention
  • Focus area 3: Societal dynamics
  • Science for professional practice

More information


news-5667 Thu, 07 May 2020 12:03:00 +0200 COVID-19 Programme call for proposals “Societal dynamics” now open https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/covid-19-programme-call-for-proposals-societal-dynamics-now-open/ The call for proposals for the focus area “Societal dynamics” within the COVID-19 Programme is now open. Consortia, research groups and independent researchers from several disciplines can submit ideas for research aimed at the societal effects of the coronavirus pandemic and of the (intended) measures against it. Given the need to act urgently, the deadline for submitting ideas is 25 May 2020, at 14.00 hours. The COVID-19 Programme

The action and research programme COVID-19 focuses on research aimed at the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken against it. There are three focus areas:
1.    Predictive diagnostics and treatment
2.    Care and prevention
3.    Societal dynamics

This call for proposals concerns only focus area 3 “Societal dynamics”, and the total budget available for grants is €6.5 million. The call for proposals for focus areas 1 and 2 was published on 1 May 2020 and has a deadline of 14 May 2020 at 14.00 hours. Further information about this call can be read here (will soon be available in English).

Focus area societal dynamics

The focus area “Societal dynamics” concerns broad, societal issues in which several scientific disciplines are involved. For example, it concerns answers to questions such as: What are the societal consequences of the coronavirus crisis? Which social and economic problems have been exposed or have arisen as a result of this? But also: which positive effects does the crisis have? Which restart scenarios exist after a shorter or longer period of economic and widespread societal disruption? What can we learn from the crisis for the future?

Invitation to submit research ideas

With this call for proposals, consortia, research groups and individual researchers are invited to submit ideas for research projects to generate knowledge about the Dutch and worldwide impact of the coronavirus crisis and the measures taken against this. The research focuses not just on the challenges during this pandemic but also on the situation after the coronavirus crisis. Furthermore, the research relates to the priority themes described below.

Priority themes

A multidisciplinary expert panel chaired by Jet Bussemaker (former Minister for Education, Culture and Science) has put forward the following priority themes for which proposals on the associated subjects can be submitted:
1    Research into the effectiveness and impact of measures/strategies in response to the coronavirus crisis
Subjects: reliability and legitimacy of the government and science during a crisis, the conditions for technologies, linked to the “opening” of society, the effects of the 1.5 m measure, differences between European countries.
2    Research into the resilience of society
Subjects: vulnerable groups, social inequalities as a result of the measures taken, home education, psychological effects and emotional well-being, citizen initiatives.
3    Research into the economic resilience
Subjects: the economic effects of the lockdown for different sectors, reopening sectors of the economy, working from home.

These things need to be investigated with the highest urgency. Project ideas must relate to one or more of these themes. The themes and subjects are explained in greater detail in the call text.

Planning funding round

The following timetable applies to this funding round:

Deadline submission project idea 25 May 2020, 14.00 hours (CEST)
Receipt advice from the committee Around 18 June 2020
Deadline submission full proposal 29 June, 14.00 hours (CEST)
Receipt comments from referees 6 July 2020
Deadline submission rebuttal 8 July 2020, 12.00 hours (CEST)
Decision Around 23 July 2020
Latest starting date 3 August 2020

The English version of the call for proposals will be published on the ZonMw website shortly.

More information







news-5648 Fri, 01 May 2020 16:40:44 +0200 Call for proposals COVID-19 Programme (‘second wave’) open for project ideas https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/call-for-proposals-covid-19-programme-second-wave-open-for-project-ideas/ The call for proposals for two focus areas within the COVID-19 Programme has now been published. Research groups can submit proposals for research aimed at the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken against it. In view of the need to act urgently, the deadline has been set at 14 May 2020. Three focus areas

The programme has three focus areas:

  1. Predictive diagnostics and treatment
  2. Care and prevention
  3. Societal dynamics

The call for proposals concerns the first two focus areas.

Focus area 1: Predictive diagnostics and treatment

Research in this focus area concerns the (further) development of (predictive) diagnostics for individualised treatment and for the prevention of COVID-19-related symptoms in the early, acute and recovery phases. It concerns research that is urgently needed into new or existing therapies and their modes of action, and on obtaining insight into, amongst other things, the microbiome, immunity, predictive parameters and individualised treatment.

The focus area has four themes:

  1. Treatment
  2. Diagnostics of infection
  3. Risk analysis and prognostics
  4. Virus, immunity, immune response and pathogenesis

Focus area 2: Care and prevention

The emphasis within this focus area lies on obtaining insights and lessons learned that contribute to an improved, substantiated response towards the current pandemic, and the safeguarding of these improved approaches and processes in the care system of the future. Various types of research are possible: evaluation pathways, action research, effect studies, facilitation pathways, efficacy research in the case of postponement of treatment/avoidance of care, organisation of care issues, development of epidemiological models, and inventories.
To achieve this, collaboration between research groups, disciplines and relevant stakeholders is the starting point for obtaining these insights in an efficient manner and for realising an adequate preparation for a future pandemic.

The focus area has three themes:

  1. Organisation of care and prevention
  2. Care and prevention for vulnerable citizens
  3. Transmission and epidemiology

Focus area 3 and policy and professional practice boosts:

The call for proposals for focus area 3 Societal dynamics and the funding instrument policy and professional practice boosts will be published on 6 May 2020. Therefore keep an eye on the ZonMw grant calendar (open calls for proposals).

The following timetable applies to the funding round for focus areas 1 and 2:

Deadline submission project idea
Receipt advice selection committee
Deadline submission full proposal
Receipt comments from referees
Deadline submission rebuttal
Latest starting date

14 May 2020, 14.00 hours
Around 5 June 2020
15 June 2020, 14.00 hours
22 June 2020
24 June 2020, 12.00 hours
Around 9 July 2020
30 July 2020


More information



news-5616 Sat, 25 Apr 2020 11:56:32 +0200 Details COVID-19 research programme (“second wave”) now online https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/details-covid-19-research-programme-second-wave-now-online/ Today we published the COVID-19 research programme (“second wave”). The programme has three focus areas:

  1. Predictive diagnostics and treatment
  2. Care and prevention
  3. Societal dynamics

For each focus area, an expert panel will prioritise the research subjects in a very short space of time. The composition of these expert panels will be published next week on the programme page of ZonMw. Once the expert panels have determined the research subjects, the focus areas in the calls for proposals will be elaborated. The programme has three funding possibilities: urgent research questions track, bottom-up funding track and policy and professional practice boosts track. Within the urgent research questions track, the projects must be assessed and started very quickly. That requires a strongly abridged procedure. For this track, ZonMw will invite research groups to submit a proposal. The bottom-up funding track will be open for a short time (two weeks) for the submission of project ideas within the themes prioritised by the expert panel. This track will also use an accelerated procedure. For the policy and professional practice boosts, the programme has a budget for small projects and studies up to a maximum of €25,000. How this track will be given form has yet to be determined.
Further information about focus areas and the funding instruments can be found in the programme text.


The current timetable is given below. For the most recent timetable, please see the programme page.

  • We will shortly invite the research groups for the urgent research questions track. The first grants within this track will be announced in mid-May.
  • The call for proposals for the bottom-up funding track focus areas 1 and 2 will be published on the ZonMw and NWO grant calendars no later than 1 May.
  • On 6 May, we will publish the call for proposals for the bottom-up funding track focus area 3 and for the policy and professional practice boosts on the ZonMw and NWO websites.
  • It is expected that the first projects from the bottom-up funding track will be granted at the end of June/start of July.

More information

(all the information will be available in English before 1 May)

news-5614 Fri, 24 Apr 2020 14:04:00 +0200 Funding opportunity for Gender in Research Fellowships withdrawn https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/funding-opportunity-for-gender-in-research-fellowships-withdrawn/ Due to the constantly changing situation regarding the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic, the funding opportunity for Gender in Research Fellowships has been withdrawn. The ZonMw Gender and Health Knowledge Program was to provide the Gender in Research Fellowships for PhD-students and post-doctoral researchers to attend the Gender and Health course and participate in the Gender in Research workshops at the Erasmus Summer Programme from 17-21 August 2020 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Unfortunately, due to the measures regarding the containment of the corona virus (COVID-19), the Erasmus Summer Programme 2020 cannot take place in it’s original (physical) form. This means the Gender in Research Fellowships also cannot be awarded as originally planned this year and is withdrawn.

The Erasmus Summer Programme together with the ZonMw Gender and Health Knowledge Program are exploring possibilities to host the Gender and Health Course and Gender in Research workshops and provide Gender in Research Fellowships in a different format. Please keep an eye on our news page for further information.

More information


news-5590 Mon, 20 Apr 2020 11:35:04 +0200 Start research programme COVID-19 (“second wave”) https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/start-research-programme-covid-19-second-wave/ Due to the considerable impact of the coronavirus crisis, there is a major need for medical and societal solutions and answers. Therefore, ZonMw, on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, will shortly start the research programme COVID-19. This will be realised in collaboration with the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and as a follow-up to the “first wave”. The aim of this programme is to contribute to controlling the consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the short and long term, to generate new knowledge about prevention, treatment and recovery from this infectious disease, and to investigate the broader societal issues concerning this pandemic. It is expected that the programme will be published at the end of April. In view of the considerable interest of the research into the coronavirus crisis, we would like to inform you in advance about the anticipated main lines of the programme.

Grant possibilities for research into coronavirus (COVID-19)

The programme will be funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and NWO. A budget of € 27 million has been made available for grants for research and practice-oriented projects. In this new programme, there will be room for various types of research (from fundamental to action research). Besides knowledge and practical solutions to limit the negative consequences of the pandemic, research is needed to learn from the negative and positive experiences, both now and in the longer term.

Three major focus areas covered in this COVID-19 research programme

This programme will concentrate on three major focus areas:

  1. Predictive diagnostics and treatment
  2. Care and prevention, including transmission 
  3. Societal consequences of the coronavirus crisis and the measures to prevent these

A further explanation of the focus areas will follow when the programme is announced (see timetable).
An expert panel is currently being formed for each focus area, made up of various experts from the field. These panels will contain scientific experts and experts from everyday practice. The panels will have the task of prioritising research subjects (or themes) within their focus area.


For each focus area, ZonMw will make grants available in three tracks:
For example, the ultrafast track will make funding available for questions that need to be tackled very urgently, also because the answers are needed for the control measures in this phase of the pandemic. For this track, invited proposals will be submitted as soon as possible. The second track is thematic, bottom-up funding rounds for research proposals. The third track is the so-called policy and practice boosts and is aimed at small projects and studies. This track is aimed at the (fast and brief) tackling of concrete policy questions and providing practice boosts.

It is expected that more detailed information about the COVID-19 programme will be made available on the ZonMw grant calendar at the end of April.


  • At the end of April, the programme text for the entire programme will have been completed.
  • The announcement of the programme will take place via a news release at the end of April/start of May.
  • The awards for the urgent research proposals will be announced at the end of May.
  • The thematic funding rounds will be opened at the end of April/start of May.

More information


news-5575 Wed, 15 Apr 2020 13:44:44 +0200 First approved research projects subsidy scheme COVID-19 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/first-approved-research-projects-subsidy-scheme-covid-19/ Eight projects that will have a direct effect on the course of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and public health will soon be starting. This is the first result of the commission of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to ZonMw to finance critical research with a direct impact on the current corona pandemic. Top priority, quick action needed

Subjects have been inventoried and prioritised by an expert panel. Eight topics have been given top priority because they may have a direct impact on public health. Specific researchers were then asked to submit a research proposal on these topics. This (very) short application procedure was chosen because it was necessary to act quickly. Subsidies were granted to eight studies. A total budget of 5.5 million euro has been made available for this.

Funded projects

The projects that received an incidental subsidy cover the following subjects:

  1. 1Investigation into the course of the disease, long-term prognosis, cross-reactivity, re-infection, and the course of the immune response over time in relation to prognosis. To this end, a cohort of persons who have recovered from COVID-19 (RECoVERED study) will be followed.
  2. Research into carrier status, burden of disease and transmission from and to children (CoKids study).
  3. Research in the field of hospital epidemiology to support infection prevention measures (COCON study)
  4. A pharmacotherapeutic trial with anakinra in COVID-19 patients in intensive care (ANACOR-IC).
  5. Mapping virus evolution, spreading and transmission via sequencing to predict transmission routes.
  6. Social science research into the impact of social isolation on vulnerable populations and what support vulnerable groups need.
  7. Trial of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine treatment in patients admitted for moderate to severe COVID-19 (ARCHAIC study).
  8. Drug development: studies into the safety and efficacy of antibodies to the coronavirus.

Almost all of the projects involve partnerships between several university medical centres, universities and other research institutions. It is important that they can start as soon as possible. More detailed project information can be found at https://www.zonmw.nl/en/about-zonmw/coronavirus/research-on-corona-and-covid-19/

Action and research programme COVID-19 and other grant possibilities

In addition to the incidental subsidies already provided, there are more granting possibilities. In order to meet the high demand for solutions and answers, ZonMw will soon start the research programme COVID-19 on behalf of VWS and together with NWO. This programme is aimed at preventing or reducing the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, combating the pandemic and the social dynamics resulting from the pandemic. In this programme we make use of various granting mechanisms, including more open calls for proposals. These calls will appear on the ZonMw subsidy calendar. More information will follow in April.

Besides these initiatives, a scheme aimed at small projects with practical solutions for material shortages and other practical problems in and outside hospitals had also recently been started. In addition, the SET scheme was expanded. Both schemes have since been closed to new applications. The Virus Outbreak Data Access Network (VODAN) implementation network was also launched.

Important: Open access publications, especially at this time

Researchers are obliged to make all publications arising from scientific research that has been subsidised in whole or in part within this scheme immediately accessible through Open Access (without embargo) with an open license. In this way, we share new knowledge, that can contribute to improving public health regarding COVID-19, as quickly as possible. In addition, research results produced within this programme should be shared in line with the Joint statement on sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak.

More information about ZonMw and the coronavirus

news-5570 Tue, 14 Apr 2020 15:38:56 +0200 18 starting science talents go to top foreign institutions thanks to Rubicon https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/18-starting-science-talents-go-to-top-foreign-institutions-thanks-to-rubicon/ 18 researchers who have recently received their PhDs can do their research at foreign research institutes thanks to a Rubicon grant from NWO. The Rubicon programme gives young, highly promising researchers the opportunity to gain international research experience. Within the domain medical Sciences there are 10 young researchers  who received a Rubicon grant:

Faster and more efficient drug research

Dr R.P.A. (Ruben) van Eijk (m), University Medical Center Utrecht -> United States, Stanford University, Center for Innovative Study Design, 12 months. It costs a lot of time and money to develop drugs. The researcher will produce innovative mathematical models to more rapidly determine whether an experimental drug works and is safe. That will enable researchers to use the resources they have more efficiently in the future.

Detecting the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease with very frequent digital measurements

Dr R. J. (Roos) Jutten (f), Amsterdam UMC -> United States, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Neurology, 24 months. Obtaining insights into early abnormalities caused by Alzheimer’s disease is vital for research into preventative treatments. My research aims to improve the detection of the very first memory problems caused by Alzheimer’s disease with the help of new computer tests that will be taken very frequently among people at home.

Eating around the clock?

Dr I.W.K. (Imre) Kouw (f), Maastricht University -> Australia, Royal Adelaide Hospital, ICU Research, 24 months. Intensive care patients are usually fed continuously and deteriorate considerably during their admission. Eating around the clock has negative effects in healthy people. The researcher will examine how tube feeding at set times influences the blood sugar levels and gastrointestinal function of intensive care patients.

The professional profile of the eosinophil

Dr S.T.T. (Sjoerd) Schetters (m), Amsterdam UMC -> Belgium, VIB, Inflammation Research Center, Ghent, 24 months. Asthma is often caused by eosinophils, immune cells that cause damage to the lungs. New drugs knock out these cells, but it is also clear that some eosinophils also play a beneficial role in our body. The researcher will investigate whether different types of eosinophils are present during diseases such as asthma and whether it is safe to eliminate all of these.

Pain &stress: From the past to the present

Dr A. (Aleksandrina) Skvortsova (f), Leiden University -> Canada, McGill University, Pain Genetics Lab, 24 months. Previous experiences influence our pain sensitivity. This project will investigate the role of stress in the relationship between past and present pain, and whether the pain experience can be reduced by reducing stress.

Thyroid hormone and sugar metabolism in the liver

Dr A.H. (Anne) van der Spek (f), Amsterdam UMC, Location AMC -> United States, Cornell University, Weill Cornell Medicine, 15 months.Thyroid gland patients have a higher chance of developing diabetes. However, the relationship between thyroid hormone and sugar metabolism in humans is not yet clear. The researcher will study the influence of thyroid hormone on the processing of sugar in human liver cells.

Protection against sudden cardiac death for those who really need it

Dr F.V.Y. (Fleur) Tjong (f), University of Amsterdam -> United States, Stanford University, Stanford Medical School Cardiovascular Medicine, 12 months. An ICD is implanted to “reset” the heart if there is a risk of the heartbeat suddenly becoming so irregular that the patient would otherwise die. However, it is not always clear who is at genuine risk. Artificial intelligence can help to determine this and form a guideline for treatment.

A prosthesis with feeling: what does that feel like?

C.S. (Ceci) Verbaarschot, MSc (f), Radboud University -> United States, University of Pittsburgh, Rehab Neural Engineering Labs, 24 months. Prostheses now exist that allow people to move and have sensory experiences. This artificial sense is achieved by electrical stimulation of the brain. This project will investigate how this feels and which properties of feeling can be achieved by brain stimulation.

How do intestinal bacteria influence our response to medication?

Dr C.G.P. (Carlos) Voogdt (m), Utrecht University -> Germany, EMBL, Heidelberg, 24 months. Intestinal bacteria can change medicines taken before these reach their target. The researcher will determine which bacteria are responsible for this, how they do this exactly, and the consequences of this bacterial activity for our intestinal cells.

Towards precision psychiatry

Dr T. (Thomas) Wolfers (m), Radboud University -> United States, Harvard University Medical School & Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, 24 months. Treatments for psychological problems can only be improved if we understand the mechanisms underlying the problems. Thanks to my new method, we will be able to describe mechanisms for each individual patient.

Directly to


Source: NWO

news-5529 Fri, 03 Apr 2020 14:01:00 +0200 Additional investment for accelerated research programmes on corona https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/additional-investment-for-accelerated-research-programmes-on-corona/ Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Hugo de Jonge informed the House of Representatives on Wednesday 1 April that the cabinet is allocating a total of €42 million for research on the most urgent corona-related research questions. It is estimated that these additional funds will enable some 80 to 100 research issues to be investigated. It is important that these resources are made available in a well-coordinated but also quick and simple manner. A substantial part of the €42 million will be awarded by ZonMw and NWO, who will work closely together to this end in research programming. 1. Fast incidental funding round for COVID-19 (‘first wave’)

Right after the coronavirus was detected in the Netherlands, incidental funding was used for targeted and urgent research on ways of combating the COVID-19 pandemic. This was funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (€4 million) and ZonMw (€1 million); NWO has joined as well, making €1.5 million available.

The funding involves:

  • Medical research: monitoring recovering patients, the transmission of the virus to and from children, hospital epidemiology, the development of medication that can be used in the (very) short term, antibodies and virus evolution. Socio-scientific research proposals that examine the impact of social isolation and its consequences have also been prioritised. These projects have already been launched or will begin shortly. These studies are being coordinated by ZonMw.
  • Behavioural research: research on social distancing and its impact on the spread of the virus. This is being coordinated by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

It is also possible to apply for a small financial compensation (€7,500 to €15,000) for creative solutions for practical (hospital) care (dutch). For example for medical devices or to help care and assistance providers give vulnerable groups the right care and assistance. ZonMw is doing its utmost to respond to applicants within a week to ensure that creative solutions can be put into practice as quickly as possible.

A total of €6.5 million has been made available by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, ZonMw and NWO for this initial research.

2. COVID-19 research programme to be launched shortly (‘second wave’)

ZonMw and NWO are currently developing an additional research programme in close consultation with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the field. This new programme will provide space for different types of research (action research, applied and fundamental research) on subjects similar to those in the accelerated incidental funding round, but which will also focus on the (broader social) consequences of the crisis and measures to be taken in the longer term.
The grants will be awarded in the near future. The entire programme will run until the end of 2024 at the latest, for monitoring and completion of all pathways.

A total of about €20 to 25 million has been made available for this type of research by NWO, ZonMw, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

3. Fast-track data NWO research

To acquire data that can only be collected now, during the crisis, the NWO domains Social Sciences and Humanities, Science, and Applied and Engineering Sciences are developing a so-called ‘fast-track data’ request. Researchers can apply for funding for research that requires real-time data acquisition on issues emerging as a result of the crisis, data that can help to manage the crisis, or that can increase the learning capacity of society during a pandemic.
To ensure that the data can be collected as quickly as possible, NWO is doing its utmost to give applicants the go/no go within one working week. Researchers will make data and an initial analysis of this data openly accessible as soon as possible. Medical and care-related subjects are excluded from this enquiry. The call is already open and can be found here. (English version will be made available as soon as possible).

In total, NWO is making €1.5 million available for this call: each NWO domain is contributing €0.5 million.

For all information about funding opportunities for research on corona and COVID-19, please consult the research page www.zonmw.nl/coronaonderzoek. More information about research opportunities, the procedure and approach of the COVID-19 research programme will soon be published here.

Read Minister De Jonge’s Letter to Parliament here.


news-5491 Fri, 27 Mar 2020 07:35:52 +0100 Fellowships Gender in Research summer course https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/fellowships-gender-in-research-summer-course/ After a successful first edition last summer, ZonMw and Erasmus MC will again offer an interesting joint course program on gender, health and research, as part of the Erasmus Summer Program 2020 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. From 17-21 August, (inter)national experts and guest speakers from a multitude of disciplines will come together to share their knowledge and research expertise with the next generation of researchers from all over the world. Through the Gender and Health course and the Gender in Research workshops, participants are provided with the latest knowledge on critical health issues for women and men trough the life cycle and new skills on why and how to include sex and gender considerations in all phases of the research cycle.

For international researchers

The ZonMw Gender and Health Knowledge Program offers 20 Gender in Research Fellowships for PhD-students and post-doctoral researchers to participate in the joint Gender and Health course program. These fellowships are not just for Dutch young researchers. International researchers are also very welcome to apply for a fellowship. Interested? Read more about the fellowship on our Funding Information page and submit your application before May 28th 2020, 14:00hr.

More information

news-5463 Thu, 19 Mar 2020 08:31:09 +0100 Replication Studies third round: repetition of important research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/replication-studies-third-round-repetition-of-important-research/ For the third time, NWO is funding projects so that the research of others can be repeated. This time it concerns seven studies covering the area of the social sciences, humanities and health research and healthcare innovation. By funding replication NWO wants to contribute to increasing the transparency of research and the quality of how results are reported. The funding instrument aims at cornerstone research that in the past formed the basis for follow-up research or have assumed an important place in education, policy-making or the public debate.

More information

news-5459 Wed, 18 Mar 2020 12:02:15 +0100 Consequences COVID-19 outbreak for subsidy rounds ZonMw https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/consequences-covid-19-outbreak-for-subsidy-rounds-zonmw/ The very exceptional situation surrounding the coronavirus outbreak has consequences for the process surrounding ZonMw's grant applications. We consider it necessary to take appropriate measures in order to align with the measures instituted by the cabinet. We are committed to giving everyone the same opportunity to submit applications, do research or participate in committees or as reviewers for our rounds. The current situation places  many extra demands on our applicants, project leaders, committee members, reviewers and project and research participants. We have taken the following measures to spare them.


We have cancelled all meetings until Junil 1. It is possible that a meeting has been postponed. Please consult our agenda for new dates.

Grant applications

New subsidy rounds will not open until April 13. The situation will be reassessed in early April and a possible additional decision will follow. The submission deadline for all outstanding grant calls with a submission date from 17 March until the end off April has been extended by two months. The submission dates will be adjusted as soon as possible. Keep an eye on the subsidy calendar for the up-to-date submission dates.

Ongoing research

The deadline for submitting progress and final reports has been extended by three months. Where necessary, a budget neutral extension can be requested. If you have any questions about this, please contact the relevant programme manager.

Funding rounds in collaboration with NWO

These measures do not apply to the NOW Talent Scheme, Rubicon and NWA subsidy rounds. The NWO measures apply to these programmes.

Interview rounds and assessment meetings

All interview meetings from 17 March until the end off April will be canceled and rescheduled at a time to be determined later. Assessment meetings regarding grant applications that have already been submitted will take place via Skype or by telephone. These meetings can only take place if the required quorum is met.


The measures mentioned above do not apply to the following programmes:

  • The deadline of 17 March 2020 for submitting grant applications for the call for the “Care Evaluation and Appropriate Use (ZE&GG)” research will be maintained.
  • The deadline of 7 April 2020 for the submission within the call for funding for Promising Care, which is being carried out by the Healthcare Institute, will be maintained.
  • The ZE&GG Inclusion Accelerator call will open as soon as possible.


Depending on current developments, additional measures may follow. In early April, it will be decided whether the above-mentioned measures will also be applicable in  May and June.

news-5545 Fri, 13 Mar 2020 11:14:00 +0100 Start datanetwork coronavirus https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/start-datanetwork-coronavirus/ We have commissioned the GO FAIR Initiative to implement the first steps of VODAN. VODAN stands for Virus Outbreak Data Access Network. This implementation network aims to shape data about the current corona virus outbreak in a way that makes them accessible for learning-algorithms (according to the Personal Health Train principle). Infectious disease and data

For this task, GO FAIR and ZonMw are calling on experts in the fields of infectious disease and data to participate. ZonMw is a member of GloPID-R, a world wide collaboration of research funders in the field of ‘preparedness’ for outbreaks of infectious disease. ZonMw and other funding agencies hope to contribute with this commission to the solution of the current crisis caused by this virus and the infectious disease COVID-19.

Personal Health Train

According to the principle of the ‘Personal Health Train’, data remain where they were generated and can be ‘visited’ for certain research questions. The administrators of the data determine the conditions under which the data may be consulted for certain questions. This way, data are made available for research in an equal, yet controlled manner. This approach might have come just in time to be of immediate use for de COVID-19 epidemic. Furthermore, it will significantly contribute to the preparedness of countries for future epidemics of this scale.

Role of ZonMw

We fund healthcare research and stimulate healthcare innovation. We have extensive experience in the fields of infectious disease and data, both nationally and internationally.

More information:

Stay up to date about all the developments related to the corona virus.


news-5410 Thu, 05 Mar 2020 08:30:04 +0100 Partnership Human Measurement Models 2.0: for health research on diseases and prevention https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/partnership-human-measurement-models-20-for-health-research-on-diseases-and-prevention/ NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES), the Association of Collaborating Health Foundations (SGF), ZonMw and Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH; Health~Holland) together make 5.55 million euros available for the development and validation of human measurement models. Through public-private partnerships within the research programme a contribution is made to science that becomes more effective for human and is less dependent on laboratory animals. Background

Every day, millions of people have to deal with the consequences of serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases. NWO Domain AES, the SGF, ZonMw and Top Sector LSH are committed to contribute to better and longer healthier lives for everyone. Scientific research, to develop better treatments for example, is crucial. Research models based on human material such as cells and tissues, or computer models based on human data, are expected to resemble humans better than animal models. The more closely a research model resembles the human situation, the sooner the corresponding research results can be applied in practice.
Targeted funding is being made available in the programme Human measurement models, which has been set up by SGF, NWO Domain AES, ZonMw and Top Sector LSH. In 2019, the first funding round of the programme took place, entitled “Human measurement models. Towards better human measurement models”. The current (second) call “Human measurement models 2.0: for health research on diseases and prevention” will open in March 2020.

Aim and objectives

The aim of the programme Human measurement models is to facilitate the development of new, more efficient human measurement models for health research to ensure that research results can be applied better and faster in humans. The focus of the programme’s second call is to develop innovative human measurement models for disease research or the prevention of diseases, including toxicity studies. The results from health research and any developed model has to be applicable for multiple diseases, and has to have an impact for multiple patient groups.

Call for proposals

At the beginning of March 2020 a call for proposals that contribute to the aim of the programme will be opened on this website. Depending on the type of research (fundamental, industrial or experimental) and the contributions from private and public parties within the collaborative project, funding between 0.5 and 1 million euros can be requested per research project.

Applications can be submitted until mid-June 2020 by a consortium consisting of at least two research organisations and at least two for-profit enterprises. More information about the conditions and the assessment procedure will be made available in the call for proposals.

Network meeting cancelled

As a consequence of the measures because of the Corona-virus outbreak, the information and network meeting on April 2nd has been cancelled. We will monitor the situation in the coming weeks and will schedule an alternative date for the meeting as soon as possible. We will keep you informed via our website and social media.

More information

news-5348 Thu, 20 Feb 2020 13:00:00 +0100 32 scientists to receive NWO Vici grants worth 1.5 million euros https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/32-scientists-to-receive-nwo-vici-grants-worth-15-million-euros/ 32 leading scientists will each receive 1.5 million euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This Vici grant will enable them to develop an innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years. Vici is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands and targets advanced researchers. The Vici laureates will examine the role played by curiosity in child development, which changes give rise to congenital heart diseases, and how a mixed provision of languages influences the language acquisition of children. Another research project will focus on the neurobiology of Parkinson’s disease with the aim of detecting the disease earlier. Researchers will also develop a revolutionary engine that converts renewable fuels into clean energy.

These are the projects for the domain of the medical sciences:

Immunity throughout the body

Dr. J.A.M. (José) Borghans (f), UMCU - Immunology
Current insights into the human immune system are almost exclusively based on studies of the blood, a place where only a minority of immune cells reside. By combining experimental work with mathematics, this research unravels how long-term immunological memory is maintained by immune cells throughout the body.

Novel tactics to combat a silent but dangerous intruder; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

Prof. dr. S.W.C. (Saskia) van Mil (f), UMCU - Center for Molecular Medicine
Millions of people live with the silent liver disease non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, putting them at high risk for developing liver failure and cancer. Presently, no treatment is available. To address this need, researchers will selectively target the Farnesoid X Receptor to develop a highly effective therapy without side effects.

Genetic heart disease – what goes wrong?

Prof. dr. E. (Eva) van Rooij (f), Hubrecht Institute
Genetic heart diseases are caused by a mistake in your DNA and are characterised by several disease driving changes in the heart that contribute to the progression of the disease. To date very little is known about the exact mechanisms that drive these changes. The goal is to discover what causes these pathological changes to occur to potentially contribute to the development of enhanced therapies.

From Headache to Heartache

Dr. A. (Antoinette) Maassen van den Brink (f), Erasmus MC – Dept. of Internal Medicine
Migraine is a highly debilitating disease, especially in women. Moreover, it is a major cardiovascular risk factor. We will study why specifically women get more migraines, how to specifically treat women and how to mitigate that cardiovascular risk in migraine, taking into account potential cardiovascular risks of antimigraine medication.

Towards treatment of Intellectual Disability and Autism disorders

Dr. A. (Annette) Schenck (f), RUMC, Department of Human Genetics
Intellectual disability and autism are frequent and currently untreatable disorders. The researchers will use an ancient, highly conserved form of learning and the fruit fly as a model to investigate the neurobiology of these disorders and develop effective translational treatment strategies for subgroups of patients.

Keeping up appearances

Dr. N.M. (Nina) van Sorge (f), UMCU – Medical Microbiology
Bacteria are all covered by a thick cell wall, predominantly composed of sugars. The pathogen Staphylococcus aureus can cover itself in different ‘sugar coats’. Microbiologists think that recognition of these different sugar coats is a key factor in immune defense and for the development of new antibiotics and vaccines.

More information


news-5306 Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:39:34 +0100 Human Measurement Models 2.0: for health research on diseases and prevention https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/human-measurement-models-20-for-health-research-on-diseases-and-prevention/ NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES), the Association of Collaborating Health Foundations (SGF), ZonMw and Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH; Health~Holland) together make 5.55 million euros available for the development and validation of human measurement models. Through public-private partnerships within the research programme a contribution is made to science that becomes more effective for human and is less dependent on laboratory animals.


Every day, millions of people have to deal with the consequences of serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases. NWO Domain AES, the SGF, ZonMw and Top Sector LSH are committed to contribute to better and longer healthier lives for everyone. Scientific research, to develop better treatments for example, is crucial. Research models based on human material such as cells and tissues, or computer models based on human data, are expected to resemble humans better than animal models. The more closely a research model resembles the human situation, the sooner the corresponding research results can be applied in practice.

More information

news-5258 Mon, 03 Feb 2020 09:38:06 +0100 9 million euros for fundamental research by interdisciplinary research teams in the medical domain https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/9-million-euros-for-fundamental-research-by-interdisciplinary-research-teams-in-the-medical-domain/ Twelve research projects will soon start with innovative research lines and new collaborations between various research groups in the first round of the ZonMw Open Competition. Amongst other things, these projects will work on improving immune therapies against cancer, the role of genes in ageing processes, and anxiety disorders and insomnia. The projects will jointly receive more than nine million euros from this first round of the programme ZonMw Open Competition. This programme aims to create opportunities for outstanding curiosity-driven (groundbreaking) research. The funding enables excellent research groups to renew their research lines that contribute to health research. Another important requirement is that they realise new collaborations between different research groups.

Three of the twelve research groups have also requested funding within their projects for investments in infrastructure, such as scientifically innovative equipment. From 20 February onwards, funding in the programme ZonMw Open Competition can once again be applied for.

Projects with investments in infrastructure:

Biomechanical precision diagnostics in osteoarthritis

Project team: prof. S.M.A. (Sita) Bierma-Zeinstra (Erasmus MC), prof. J. (Jaap) Harlaar (TU Delft) and dr E.H.G. (Edwin) Oei (Erasmus MC).

Revealing HIV hiding places: functional characterization of the HIV reservoir in CD32a+ T cells

Project team: prof. B. (Ben) Berkhout (Amsterdam UMC Location AMC), dr A.O. (Alexander) Pasternak and dr J. (Jeroen) den Dunnen (Amsterdam UMC Location AMC)

TRIPLET: TaRgeted therapy and Imaging in experimental PLacEnTa insufficiency

Project team: prof. R.M. (Raymond) Schiffelers (UMC Utrecht), dr A.T. (Titia) Lely (UMC Utrecht) and prof. G.J. (Gustav) Strijkers (Amsterdam UMC).

Other projects:

Defining H3K9 methylation regulatory pathways in monocyte and macrophage function in cardiovascular disease

Project team: prof. M.P.J. (Menno) de Winther (Amsterdam UMC) and prof. M. (Michiel) Vermeulen (Radboud University Nijmegen).

Diaphragm protective mechanical ventilation in critically ill patients: the role of positive endexpiratory pressure

Project team: prof. L.H. (Leo) Heunks (Amsterdam UMC Location VUmc), dr J.T. (Tim) Marcus (Amsterdam UMC Location VUmc), prof. H.G. (Henk) Granzier (University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ) and prof. A.N. (Aart) Nederveen (Amsterdam UMC Location AMC).

Embryonic checkpoints - releasing the brakes on IVF

Project team: dr D. (Derk) ten Berge (Erasmus MC), dr N.C. (Nicolas) Rivron (Austrian Academy of Science) and dr E.B. (Esther) Baart (Erasmus MC).

Exploring Bacterial Cytological Profiling to find novel antibiotic leads

Project team: prof. L.W. (Leendert) Hamoen (University of Amsterdam) and dr J.C.N. (Jerome) Collemare (Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute).

Molecular engineering of healthspan extension leveraging genetics of aging-resilient animals

Project team: prof. E. (Eugene) Berezikov (University Medical Center Groningen), prof. E.A.A. (Ellen) Nollen and prof. C.F. (Cor) Calkhoven (University Medical Center Groningen).

Obesity during pregnancy: the role of the microbiome in maternal pregnancy and foetal complications

Project team: dr M.M. (Marijke) Faas (University Medical Center Groningen), dr S. (Sam) Schoenmakers and prof. R.P.M. (Régine) Steegers-Theunissen (Erasmus MC).

Optimizing the design of dendritic cell vaccine immunotherapies

Project team: prof. I.J.M. (Jolanda) de Vries (Radboud University Medical Center), prof. G. (Geert) van den Bogaart (University of Groningen), dr S.I. (Sander) van Kasteren (Leiden University), dr G. (Gerty) Schreibelt (Radboud University Medical Center) and dr M. (Martijn) Verdoes (Radboud University Medical Center).

REAL-HEARING: Real life measurement of the influence of hearing loss and listening effort on stress systems

Project team: prof. S.E. (Sophia) Kramer (VU University medical center), dr A.A. (Adriana) Zekveld (VU University medical center ) and prof. J.C.N. (Eco) de Geus (VU University).

REMOVE: Resolving Emotional Memories Overnight

Project team: prof. E.J.W. (Eus) van Someren (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience) and prof. M. (Merel) Kindt (University of Amsterdam)

More information

news-5193 Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:59:33 +0100 New round ZonMw Open Competition starts on 20 February 2020 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/new-round-zonmw-open-competition-starts-on-20-february-2020/ The second round of the new programme ZonMw Open Competition will open On 20 February instead of 23 January. The deadline for the first phase of project ideas will be 16 April 2020. The deadline for submitting full proposals will also shift, namely to 15 September 2020. The most important reason for these changes is a substantive sharpening of the call for proposals. Sharpening call for proposals

Using the experience from the first round, we want to sharpen this call for proposals for the second round, for example in the areas of knowledge utilisation and participation. This means that applicants from the first round who want to submit again will have to adjust their applications with respect to several points. They will soon hear whether their project in the first round of the ZonMw Open Competition will be awarded funding. By shifting the dates by four weeks, the applicants who received no funding from the first round will have more time to adjust their application for a potential resubmission.

From 20 February onwards you can find information about the new planning of the second round of the ZonMw Open Competition on our website.

ZonMw Open Competition

The programme ZonMw Open Competition aims to create opportunities for curiosity-driven (pioneering) fundamental research of excellent quality. The funding promotes team science and offers excellent research groups the opportunity to innovate their research lines, which contribute to health research. An important requirement in this respect is that they realise new, synergistic collaborations between research groups from different research institutions.

More information

news-5142 Tue, 14 Jan 2020 13:01:14 +0100 Two InnoSysTox-moving projects selected in the latest call for animal-free innovations for systems biology and toxicology https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/two-innosystox-moving-projects-selected-in-the-latest-call-for-animal-free-innovations-for-systems-b/ Two projects have received funding from the bi-national InnoSysTox-Moving programme to build an effective international collaboration with a clear benefit for replacing animal tests in the field of toxicology and systems biology. InnoSysTox is a collaboration of the German Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF), Projektträger Jülich (PtJ) and ZonMw. The projects, one in which computer calculations are used for the development of medicines, and the other in which computer models and a model based on human physiology, predict liver toxicity, have a maximum duration of four years.


The aim of this call is to bring about a mind shift towards human biology in the field of toxicology and computational modelling. In addition, to stimulate innovations without the use of animal testing. The projects are based on an international public-private partnership in a broad-based strategic consortium. The consortia represent strong partnerships with complementary expertise, in which all stakeholders are represented. Through international and interdisciplinary cooperation, the development and application of innovative systems-biology-based replacement methods in toxicology will be strengthened.

Project summaries

SafetyNet: Drug safety indices for heart and liver derived from network modelling

Projectleader: Prof. Jos Kleinjans, Maastricht University

SafetyNet proposes an in silico approach to replace animal testing in drug development. The approach is focused on computing safetyvindices (SIs) for drugs that induce liver and heart toxicity in humans. SI prediction is based on network modelling using different kinds of omics data that are available for the drug under study (methylome, proteome, transcriptome) . Applicants have previously developed drug response network (DRN) models for heart and liver using iPSC-derived 3D human cardiac and liver microtissues that were exposed to a panel of different drugs known to induce heart or liver toxicity. The goal of the SafetyNet project is to further refine, extend and test the DRNs by using a large body of publicly available drug response data (~ 500 drugs). For each of the drugs we will map the available time and dose-sensitive data onto the DRN and perform network propagation modelling to derive a final prioritization of the proteins. Functional testing of the most relevant proteins will be done to associate these proteins with heart and liver toxicities and to phenotypically anchor the DRNs. Additionally, literature mining and disease associations will be used to propose novel protein candidates to extend the DRNs. In an iterative process of computational network modelling, functional testing and text mining the two DRN models will be refined and ultimately used to compute a safety index (SI) for each drug. Use cases will be carried out to compare and validate SI predictions. A prototype will be implemented that contains the different elements of the SafetyNet approach for further exploitation in regulatory and pre-clinical testing. SafetyNet will be compatible with rodent data in order to be able to compare adverse outcome predictions using human in vitro data and rodent in vivo data. The final SafetyNet predictions for liver and heart toxicity should reduce uncertainty in adverse outcome prediction and should contribute to gradual replacement of animal testing.

SysBioToP-Moving: Systems Biology of Liver Toxicity Predictions - Moving on

Projectleader: Prof. Bob van de Water, Leiden University

There is an urgent need for next generation chemical safety assessment strategies that reflect human biology and do not employ animal testing. For appropriate quantitative adverse outcome predictions it is essential to integrate quantitative information on chemical-biological interactions using computational systems biology. Our vision is that quantitative dynamic measurements on xenobiotic induced cellular perturbations and adverse outcomes from human-based in vitro test systems followed by translation to human in vivo target tissue through quantitative in-vitro-in-vivo-extrapolation (qIVIVE) will provide an innovative strategy for future safety testing approaches. Systems biology and physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modelling are intrinsic cornerstones for such a strategy. Since the liver is a critical target organ of toxicity and highly difficult to predict, we will focus on the prediction of hepatotoxicity. Cellular stress responses in association with biochemical perturbation at the metabolic and cellular energy- and redox-status level are critical determinants for the onset of such hepatotoxicity. In SysBioToP-Moving we will integrate computational models of cellular stress response pathways and cellular adversity with PBPK models for in vivo translation. We will parameterize these models based on existing experimental data sets in which gaps will be filled with respect to concentration-time response to a panel of drugs having liability for drug-induced liver injury. These datasets involve live cell microscopy of cellular stress response reporters as well as metabolomics and transcriptomics studies. We will assess target organ variability based on different iPSC reporter cell line-derived cell lineage information. Ultimately, the models will be tested with substances that are relevant for the chemical and cosmetics industry sector, to ensure future implementation in integrated approaches to testing and assessment of chemical safety.

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news-5140 Tue, 14 Jan 2020 11:22:21 +0100 How can we embed responsible research practices in science? https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/how-can-we-embed-responsible-research-practices-in-science/ Integrity, quality and social impact are vital for the existence of science. Therefore, for several years, ZonMw and NWO have encouraged research into fostering responsible research practices and replication studies. On 31 October 2019, the researchers involved jointly reflected on the progress so far. The most important conclusion was that an active community has evolved, which has obtained insight into various factors that hinder responsible research. Now the time is ripe to use this knowledge to offer solutions and implement them in practice.

Common sense and openness

Science is a dynamic and complex system of individual researchers, institutes and culture. Consequently there is no single clear solution for removing obstacles to responsible research practices, as Dr Guus Dix (CWTS) and Dr Fenneke Blom (VU Amsterdam) described in their presentations. Both researchers distinguished three levels: the scientific system as a whole (including publication pressure and hypercompetitiveness), research cultures (including wrong role models and insufficient training) and the individual researchers (including conflicts of interest and moral attitude). Improving the quality of research and the integrity of researchers and research groups requires measures at these three levels.

Shared responsibility

In the discussion following the presentations, the participants considered the bottlenecks and possible solutions. Their most important conclusion was that facilitating the quality of research and integrity is a shared responsibility. Keywords included education and training, role models, examples from other sectors and an open culture. There were also warnings: give space to bottom-up initiatives, try to avoid bureaucratisation and the creation of a culture of fear, and be aware of the differences between scientific domains and disciplines. Furthermore, the discussion about responsible research practices should not remain limited to the bubble of the researchers from the programmes Fostering Responsible Research Practices (FRRP) and Replication Studies (RS).


Replication research is important for the quality of research. That was clear, for example, from the presentation of Prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (University of Amsterdam) in which she showed that since the arrival of digital archives it has become far easier to go back to sources and to test hypotheses and repeat research from behind your desk. For example, it is now easier than in the past to determine the authorship of texts and test earlier statements from historians. Dr Joost de Winter (TU Delft) presented his replication of a famous study by the American Prof. Eckhard Hess from 1960 into the relationship between pupil size and interest in what we see. De Winter established that the conclusion of Hess could not be confirmed. These and the other projects in the programme Replication Studies demonstrate that replicating research is an important tool to establish the quality of research and the robustness of research results.

More space for research into research

Transformation processes cost time. A movement has now arisen to improve research practices, partly due to the FRRP and RS programmes. Structurally embedding responsible research practices in day-to-day research requires even more still, including the implementation of the knowledge acquired and the involvement of PhDs and postdocs in the necessary innovation processes. And, as both programme chairs, Prof. Eduard Klasen (BVO) and Prof. Lex Bouter (RS), emphasised: more space for research into research. An initial step for this has been taken with the position paper “Promoting Responsible Research Practices”. During the afternoon of 31 October, participants could provide their input for this paper. Later this year, ZonMw will organise a consultative round to offer all researchers the opportunity to respond to this paper.

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news-5109 Mon, 13 Jan 2020 09:40:00 +0100 16 starting science talents go to top foreign institutions thanks to Rubicon https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/16-starting-science-talents-go-to-top-foreign-institutions-thanks-to-rubicon/ 16 researchers who have recently gained their PhDs will do research at foreign research institutions thanks to a Rubicon grant from NWO. The Rubicon programme is intended to give young, highly promising researchers the opportunity to gain international research experience. The majority of the researchers will go abroad for a period of 24 months. For example, they will investigate causes of reduced fertility at a later age, how the brain distinguishes reality from fantasy, grammatical relationships in indigenous languages from the Amazon region, and how our public transport can be better optimised from the travellers viewpoint.
Within the domain medical Sciences these are the young researchers  who received a Rubicon grant:

Good bacteria and healthy noses

Dr R (Rob) van Dalen (m), Utrecht University ‐> Germany, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection, 24 months
If the wrong bacteria can live in our nose, then we suffer from respiratory inflammations and allergies. This project will investigate how our immune system recognises the bacteria in our nose and can therefore attack the wrong bacteria, but support the good ones.

Advanced puzzling : the genetic complexity of psychiatric disorders

Dr M. (Marieke) Klein (f), Donders Institute and Radboudumc, Radboud University -> United States, University of California San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 24 months
DNA mutations often have serious consequences and yet millions of changes take place without any apparent consequences. Together they form a key for the development of psychiatric disorders. The researcher will develop new analysis methods to investigate the interaction of these genetic variants.

Beta pods for the treatment of type 1 diabetes

Dr S.G. (Sami) Mohammed (m), Radboudumc -> United States, Joslin Diabetes Center, Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology section, 18 months
Beta pods are specially made implants to transplant insulin producing beta cells for type 1 diabetes. The aim of this project is to investigate the effectiveness of the beta pod in maintaining the balance of blood sugar values during a preclinical study.

Releasing all brakes against cancer

Dr J.G.C. (Janneke) Peeters (f), UMC Utrecht -> United States, University of California, Berkeley, Molecular and Cellular Biology Department, 24 months
Neuroblastoma is a highly lethal form of childhood cancer because our immune system cannot attack the tumour. The researcher will investigate how cells that inhibit the immune system contribute to neuroblastoma and will try to find mechanisms that can eliminate these cells.

Acute leukaemia treatment: double-edge sword

Dr J. (Jurjen) Versluis (m), Erasmus Medical Center Cancer Institute -> United States, Harvard Medical School – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Department of Hemato-Oncology, 12 months
A tailored approach for the treatment of the individual older patient with acute myeloid leukaemia is desperately needed. The researcher will develop an innovative complex risk model to better inform doctors and patients about treatment choices.

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news-5066 Thu, 19 Dec 2019 09:47:53 +0100 Three project groups take on industry challenges to develop animal-free innovations https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/three-project-groups-take-on-industry-challenges-to-develop-animal-free-innovations/ The first phase of the programme Create2Solve can start with the three proposals that ZonMw selected to develop animal-free innovations for industry and research. The research groups will develop proof-of-concept projects for two Challenges, formulated by companies in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. The project groups will receive a maximum of 7 months to realise their project. In the autumn of 2020, ZonMw will assess these projects and decide which can be elaborated in phase 2. Projects selected

In July this year, ZonMw published the two selected Challenges from consortia of companies. ZonMw subsequently selected three of the proposals submitted. These research groups will each receive a maximum of 100,000 euros; that excludes the in-kind contributions from industry and/or the own institution. The research groups will work on proof-of-concept projects for these Challenges. These are the projects:

Challenge 1: Better in-vitro Dosing (BID):

  • Better In-Vitro Dosing (BID): Framework and technology development for improving the quality of in-vitro data
    Project leader Dr Nynke (N.I.) Kramer (Utrecht University, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences)

Challenge 2: Need for human mini -brains as screening tools to assess efficacy of pharmacological or nutritional agents for neurological disorders characterised by white matter issues:

  • 3D Screening Platform for White Matter defects
    Project leader Dr Vivi (V.M.) Heine (Amsterdam UMC - location VUmc)
  • An animal-free human 3D cortical network platform for screening myelination and inflammation phenotypes. 3D Myelination & Inflammation Cortical network platform (3D MICro-brains)
    Project leader Dr Femke (F.M.S.) de Vrij (Erasmus MC)

Progress of the projects

The project groups will receive support from the companies involved to ensure that the questions from industry and the proof-of-concept project to be developed are well aligned. The Create2Solve committee will also play an active role in supervising the projects. They will visit the projects in the spring of 2020.

Next phase

In the autumn of 2020, ZonMw will select a maximum of one project per Challenge. In the second phase of Create2Solve, the selected proof-of-concept projects will further develop, validate or expand their animal-free innovation into a prototype. The maximum duration of these research projects is 5 years.

Create2Solve: demand-driven animal-free innovations

With Create2Solve, ZonMw supports the development of animal-free innovations with an impact that must lead to commercial methods, models and/or services. The funding for Create2Solve is being provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing. Create2Solve is an initiative of the ZonMw programme More Knowledge with Fewer Animals.

Project summaries

Better In-Vitro Dosing (BID): Framework and technology development for improving the quality of in- vitro data
Project leader Dr Nynke (N.I.) Kramer (Utrecht University, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences)

The nominal concentration, i.e. the theoretical concentration based on amount of test chemical added to culture medium, is generally used to express concentration-effect relationships in in-vitro toxicity tests. However, for instable, volatile, lipophilic and highly plasma protein bound chemicals, the nominal concentration does not represent the concentration responsible for the observed effect at the target site in cells. In this project, we are further developing tools that control for the degradation, evaporation and binding of chemicals to the in-vitro system setup of these chemicals. These tools include exposing cells in sealed glass vials and microtiter plates dosed through polymers loaded with test chemicals (i.e. partition-controlled dosing). A decision tree will be evaluated to allow researchers to determine whether the use of each of these tools is necessary and applicable for the chemical and in vitro biomarker they wish to test.

3D Screening Platform for White Matter defects
Project leader Dr Vivi (V.M.) Heine (Amsterdam UMC - location VUmc)

White matter abnormalities are present in many neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and Huntington’s disease. White matter is characterised by the presence of myelin and many other cellular structures, including oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, microglia and neurons, contributing to the development and maintenance of proper white matter. While much research is being done on laboratory animals, they do not represent cellular diversity and the large amount of white matter in the human brain. Hence, we need a human model system that is quantitative and represents different neuronal and glial structures. Recent developments in the stem cell field, such as induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology and mini brain cultures, provide new tools. Here, we aim to develop a high throughput organ-on-a-chip platform, involving different cellular structures in a physiological microenvironment. If successful, these platforms could provide powerful preclinical tools to study disease mechanisms, to identify drug targets or molecules critical to the repair of the white matter.

An animal-free human 3D cortical network platform for screening myelination and inflammation phenotypes. 3D Myelination & Inflammation Cortical network platform (3D MICro-brains),
Project leader Dr Femke (F.M.S.) de Vrij (Erasmus MC)

Recent developments in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology offer the unique opportunity to implement lineage-specific human cellular models suitable for drug development applications. In this project, researchers will expand their established platform for 3D neural networks of human brain cells that resemble the human frontal cortex in early development. An industry partner will contribute innovative synthetic extracellular matrix technology to support 3D structure formation. The resulting 3D MICrobrains model will be the essence of cortical structure formation in a miniature format that is literally about 1 millionth the size of a normal human brain. The platform will contain all relevant cell types: functional neurons and glial cell types in layered radial structures, including astrocytes, myelinating white matter cells (oligodendrocytes) and cells that are crucial for immune responses in the brain (microglia). Moreover, this advanced 3D MICro-brain platform is amenable to high throughput analyses for screening purposes.

More information

news-4976 Wed, 04 Dec 2019 09:36:18 +0100 Are you an artist or designer and interested in the life sciences? Submit your proposal for the Bio Art & Design Award 2020 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/are-you-an-artist-or-designer-and-interested-in-the-life-sciences-submit-your-proposal-for-the-bio/ We are happy to invite artists and designers to submit a proposal for a collaboration with leading Dutch life sciences research groups. The Bio Art & Design Award (BAD Award) is a competition that awards € 25.000 for three successful applicants to fully realize new bio art or bio design. These art works will be exhibited in MU at the end of 2020. Not only does this collaboration provide new insights at the frontiers of art and science, the BAD Award is a unique experience for both parties.

The Bio Art & Design Award highlights and explores exciting new intersections among design, artistic practice and the Life Sciences. The Award is a product of collaboration between ZonMw, MU and BioArt Laboratories.

To be eligible for the award you must have graduated no longer than five years ago from a design or art programme (at either the Masters or Bachelors level). Applicants are encouraged to relate their proposals to recent advances in the Life Sciences, including those within specialties such as ecology, biomedicine, big data, and genomics. Please be sure to read all information about the award regulations and participating research groups before submitting an application on the BAD Award website. The applications can be submitted ultimately 30 January 2020.

news-4870 Mon, 28 Oct 2019 12:30:00 +0100 International funding for antimicrobial resistance https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/international-funding-for-antimicrobial-resistance/ ZonMw JPIAMR, in collaboration with NWO-WOTRO and the ZonMw programme Goed Gebruik Geneesmiddelen, finances innovative projects on diagnostics and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Call for funding

The 9th call JPIAMR Call "Diagnostics and Surveillance" has yielded 34 full applications with innovative research projects. 20 international financiers participate in this call. The research projects focus on new or improved diagnostic and surveillance tools, technologies and methods to effectively control antimicrobial resistance in humans, animals and the environment (One Health). Low and middle income countries (LMICs) are strongly represented as project partners.

Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs)

New in this call was that 3 specific LMIC funders were involved:  NWO-WOTRO  (Netherlands), SIDA  (Sweden) and  IDRC  (Canada).  One of the specific goals of this call was to support and increase the participation of LMIC researchers. Research and innovation in the field of AMR by and within LMICs are of great importance for our collective global future. AMR thrives in environments with limited access to water and sanitation, medicine, veterinary medicine and healthcare. These circumstances therefore represent increased and unknown risks for humans, animals, and the environment. Including LMIC perspectives in the development of AMR diagnostics increases understanding of local limitations as well as cultural, contextual, and behavioral factors that can influence the use of antibiotics. It also provides knowledge about which technologies and methods are the most suitable and cost-effective to implement.

This call is therefore well aligned with the message that was conveyed during the 2nd ministerial conference in June this year. At this conference it was emphasised that AMR causes an increase in poverty and in particular poses a major threat in LMICs.

How do we fund such an international call?

Of the 34 project applications, 12 are recommended for funding. Dutch researchers are involved in 5 of these projects, often with a coordinating task. Because of this success and the limited Dutch budget, we started looking for additional funding within and outside ZonMw. The majority of the budget has been made available from the ZonMw JPIAMR international subsidy program; with an additional budget from the ZonMw program GGG, the French subsidy provider ANR and the Swedish development aid financier SIDA. NWO-WOTRO participates in this call by funding LMIC activities: they finance global development and capacity building activities, both carried out by Dutch researchers in LMICs and by local LMIC researchers.

International collaboration

The beauty of international collaboration is that international funders can support each other. And in this way can together solve a potential budget deficit. This allows to grant as many project applications of good quality and relevance as possible. Moreover, the knowledge that can be acquired in international projects is often many times greater than in projects that are performed solely nationally. In addition, as a funder you also have access to the results of the project in which no Dutch researchers are involved.

'One Health' approach

The purpose of this call is to effectively control antimicrobial resistance in humans, animals, and the environment. Looking at the relations between humans, animals and the environment is called the 'One Health' approach. It is the joint effort of multiple sectors and disciplines - both local, national and international - to achieve the optimal health for people, animals, and the environment.

More information


news-4658 Mon, 07 Oct 2019 14:00:00 +0200 ZonMw Veni round: Deadline submission full proposal postponed https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-veni-round-deadline-submission-full-proposal-postponed/ For various reasons, we have been forced to postpone two deadlines for the current Veni round by one month. This concerns the deadline for informing the ZonMw applicants about the intended decision concerning their Veni pre-proposals and the deadline for submitting a full proposal. The period between the intended decision and the deadline for submission of a full proposal therefore remains the same, namely eight weeks. The deadline for the final decision about the full proposals also remains the same. New deadlines

The modified planning is as follows:

  • Intended decision pre-proposals: no later than 15 November 2019 (instead of October ).
  • Period in which a written reaction can be submitted following a negative decision: 1 week after intended decision.
  • Deadline submission full proposals: 11 February 2020, 14:00 h MET (instead of 9 January 2020).
  • Date decision full proposal (remains the same): mid-July 2020.

New planning only applies for ZonMw

The new planning only applies to proposals submitted to ZonMw and not to proposals submitted to the domains of NWO Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), Science (ENW) and Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES).

Reasons for postponing the deadlines

This year, far more Veni proposals were submitted to ZonMw than in previous years, namely one third more. In addition, we have experienced a major adjustment in the work process due to two innovations, namely the pilot pre-proposal and the implementation of the new ICT system (MyZonMw). This has given rise to extra work.

This means that in the original planning, too little time was available to realise the pre-proposal phase in a correct and meticulous manner. We have therefore postponed the deadline for sending the intended decision to applicants by one month. To ensure that the preparation time Veni applicants have for submitting a full proposal remains the same, we are also extending the submission deadline by one month. We have taken these measures because we want to safeguard a correct and meticulous selection process in which the chances for all applicants are the same.

More information


  • Guillaume Macor
  • Hesham Alghiwi
  • Rosan Rongen
  • Email: Veni@zonmw.nl
  • Phone: +31 (0)70 349 5468
news-4582 Thu, 19 Sep 2019 15:41:54 +0200 AquaticPollutants Cofund accepted by the European Commission http://www.jpi-oceans.eu/news-events/news/aquaticpollutants-cofund-accepted-european-commission The consortium consisting of 32 partner institutions from the three Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) on Water, Oceans and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has been invited to sign the Grant Agreement. news-4487 Fri, 30 Aug 2019 10:00:00 +0200 More than 100 million euros for groundbreaking fundamental research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/more-than-100-million-euros-for-groundbreaking-fundamental-research/ Six consortia with top researchers from different Dutch universities have received a total of 113.8 million euros to carry out scientific research programmes in the coming years. The Minister for Education, Culture and Science (OCW), Ingrid van Engelshoven, made these funds available for research consortia that are among the best in the world in their field in carrying out groundbreaking research. The research programmes awarded funding concern research into complex brain disorders at the molecular and cellular level, strengthening agricultural crops to tackle the challenges of sustainable food production, a radical new approach to mental diseases to realise a healthy society, measuring and explaining the effects of the environment on our health (the so-called "exposome"’), the development of a system for artificial intelligence (AI) in which people take centre stage (hybrid intelligence) and a new approach for investigating the development of disruptive technologies.

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news-4363 Tue, 23 Jul 2019 10:04:37 +0200 Proof of Concept projects https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/proof-of-concept-projects/ ZonMw selected two challenges for ‘proof of concept’ projects of Create2Solve. With Create2Solve, ZonMw makes funding available to research organisations and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) for the development of animal-free innovations within the program More Knowledge with Fewer Animals. This call for demand-driven innovations is now open for proposals. On 22 August, ZonMw will organise a webinar for any interested parties who want to know more about the call and the challenges. Create2Solve Challenges

Two Challenges are selected that have been formulated by the chemical and food industries.

  1. Better in-vitro Dosing (BID): Framework and technology development for improving the quality of in vitro data.  Companies: Shell, Sabic and LyondellBasell
  2. Need for human mini -brains as screening tools to assess efficacy of pharmacological or nutritional agents for neurological disorders characterized by white matter issues. Companies: Danone Nutricia Research and Charles River

Webinar Challenges Create2Solve

Do you have any questions you would like to ask the companies that have set up Challenge 1 or Challenge 2? That will be possible! On August 22, ZonMw organizes an webinar. Representatives of both Challenges will present their challenge and answer your questions live. Do you want to ask questions about the procedure and conditions of this call? That is also possible during the webinar. ZonMw will give a presentation about this, and of course, you can also ask questions live. You can register for the webinar by sending an email to mkmd@zonmw.nl.

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news-4265 Mon, 01 Jul 2019 08:13:50 +0200 Professor Monique den Boer receives second ZonMw Open Science Boost https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/professor-monique-den-boer-receives-second-zonmw-open-science-boost/ On Friday 21 June, Monique den Boer from the Princess Máxima Center received the second ZonMw Open Science Boost. Radjesh Manna, director of programmes at ZonMw, handed her the prize during a surprise visit to Utrecht. Monique den Boer, Professor of Molecular Pediatric Leukemia, together with her research group, made a big contribution to the objectives of open science: responsive, transparent, and responsible science. With this boost, ZonMw wants to encourage her to continue along this path and be an example for researchers within and outside her research group. Ambassador for open science

The ZonMw Open Science Boost consists of an award of 1500 euros that Monique den Boer can use for a visit to an international conference. ZonMw also asks her to be an ambassador for open science there. She furthermore received a trophy in the form of a crystal ball as a symbol for a future with transparent and responsible medical science.

Surprise visit to the Princess Máxima Center

The awarding of the ZonMw Open Science Boost was a surprise for Den Boer. On Friday afternoon, Radjesh Manna stood in front of her to award the second Open Science Boost 2019. Manna explained that she has received this encouragement because the final report for her Vici project "Challenging old dogmas: improved diagnostics and tailored therapy by unraveling biology of acute leukemia in children" revealed that she, together with her research group, makes open science possible in a structural manner. During her Vici project, she published 33 articles in open access form, as a result of which everybody has access to the results. With this, she made a big contribution to open access. She also realised a systematic review, as a result of which she had an as complete as possible overview of all previous research on her subject, made data from her research available, and also published the negative results of her research. The latter unfortunately happens too little, partly because the current publication culture is mainly focused on positive results. The publication of negative results ensures that the knowledge within a research field becomes more complete. By making all knowledge accessible, unnecessary research can be prevented.

Particularly impressive: how her research group works

For Monique den Boer, open science is more than just open access, making data available and carrying out systematic reviews. It is also part and parcel of how she leads her research group by encouraging collaboration and letting the group assume joint responsibility for responsible and transparent science. One of the ways she has achieved this within her group, which is also part of the Oncode Institute, is the introduction of an audit system for publications. Before an article from her research group is published, the researchers first determine, on the basis of raw data, whether the data and conclusions are correct. A colleague from the group performs this audit. This not only contributes to the transparency of the data but is also a learning exercise for the more junior researchers. Furthermore, she has ensured the systematic use of a digital lab journal. All researchers in her group use this system to archive the data in a clear, uniform and accessible manner. By regularly using this digital lab journal in work meetings, everybody can contribute ideas about the documentation of experimental data and suggest how this can be improved. This approach to archiving works so efficiently that other groups within and outside of the Princess Máxima Center want to adopt this approach too.[QUOTE van Monique] “Data stewardship is a team effort with high gains  in data transparency and reproducibility!”

Role model for Open Science

ZonMw is impressed by how Monique den Boer structurally embeds Open Science in her research and her research group. With this, she has made a big contribution to the objectives of open science and responsible science. She is a role model for her research group and researchers in the field of paediatric cancer. With the Open Science Boost, ZonMw endorses her efforts for responsible and transparent science and hopes that her example will inspire other researchers to realise the objectives of open science in the medical sciences.

More information

ZonMw actively supports Open Science. Open Science make science accessible for researchers, society and the economy. Collaboration and exchange of knowledge are key aspects of this. The aim is to increase the quality and impact of scientific research. See the ZonMw website about Open Science.

Monique den Boer has received various grants from NWO and ZonMw:

  • Vidi: "Biological role and clinical relevance of miRNAs in childhood acute leukemia"
  • Vici: "Challenging old dogmas: improved diagnostics and tailored therapy by unraveling biology of acute leukemia in children"
  • Programme Translational Research: "Proof-of-principle study of a new diagnostic test for classification and stratification of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia"

Monique den Boer was appointed as senior principal investigator at the Princess Máxima Center in 2018. With her group, she investigates paediatric leukaemia. Leukaemia develops due to changes in the DNA. This only happens in the leukaemia cells and not in the healthy cells. The research focuses on finding errors in the DNA that cause the leukaemia cell to divide and proliferate whereas this does not happen in healthy cells. With this research, the researchers hope to develop better criteria for the diagnosis and treatment of paediatric leukaemia and to better match the choice and use of medicines to this ("targeted therapy", also referred to as "precision medicines").  

Monique den Boer leads the Oncode research group "Acute lymphoblastic leukemia", one of the 62 research groups of the Oncode Institute. The Oncode Institute is a network of more than 800 researchers from 12 institutes. Oncode consolidates the strengths of the Dutch research world and translates fundamental cancer research findings as quickly as possible into applicable methods for diagnosis and treatment.

news-4261 Thu, 27 Jun 2019 16:34:00 +0200 Contribute to international overview AMR databases https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/contribute-to-international-overview-amr-databases-1/ At least once, you must have had one of the following thoughts…  

  • Does this data already exist?
  • I wish I could compare this resource to other resources!
  • What are possible collaborations? Which groups/consortia are collecting similar information to my group?
  • Could our data be linked to others to investigate entire new research questions?
  • So many databases. How do I know what kind of data are actually in this database or biobank? I wish there were good metadata available that describe that.

We are working on the solution!

ZonMw (the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) invites you, on behalf of JPIAMR and the recently started consortium VALUE-Dx, to take part in a survey on resources (collections of biological material and databases) that are relevant for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research. In parallel, we set out to collect information about services that are provided by research infrastructures and some biobanks.


Please follow this link to the survey: https://nl.surveymonkey.com/r/VS87GV8 and complete the survey before September 1st, 2019. You are more than welcome to further distribute this message amongst your network.

Why should you participate?

By participating in this survey, you are contributing to closing the current gap of information, and establishing a strong basis for AMR research. As the survey is initiated by a large network of active AMR researchers, participation may also open up opportunities for future collaboration, publications, and research funding. Also, you will get first-hand information from the report that will be constructed from this survey.

Aim and ambition of the survey    

The aim is to get an overview of existing resources and services that are relevant for AMR research. Our ambition is to improve their findability and reusability, and thereby their sustainability. The AMR research community will benefit from this initiative, as it will expand options for innovative research. The overview will become available for the entire AMR research community.

More information

news-4210 Thu, 20 Jun 2019 13:55:05 +0200 Evaluating research: what effects do current funding practices have in the Netherlands? https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/evaluating-research-what-effects-do-current-funding-practices-have-in-the-netherlands/ On Friday June 14th, the workshop ‘Evaluating research: what effects do current funding practices have in the Netherlands?’ was hosted by ZonMw. The workshop was a result of the research project ‘Follow the Money’, that was funded as part of the ZonMw-programme ‘Fostering responsible research practices’. An audience consisting of around 30 researchers and funders with a wide variety of disciplinary and institutional affiliations discussed the merits and drawbacks of existing funding practices, as well as proposing improvements. Too much low risk and top-down science

After an introduction by project leader Gerben ter Riet (Amsterdam UMC and HvA), postdoctoral researcher Stephanie Meirmans (Amsterdam UMC) presented some of the project’s findings on scientists’ experiences of how competitive research funding affected their scientific practice. Based on 14 interviews and 12 group sessions with researchers from the humanities, natural and biomedical sciences, in the Netherlands and Switzerland, she showed that scientists were predominantly, although certainly not exclusively, negative in their assessment. Scientists warned for dangers such as too strict planning and bureaucracy in research, too much low-risk and top-down science as well as unrealistic expectations leading to unintended side effects. Expectations and values of researchers and funders may in practice diverge to such an extent that they can lead to demotivated researchers. Strikingly, Swiss scientists were much more positive than their Dutch colleagues about their situation and their relation with science funders.

National differences between scientists’ experiences

A number of commentators added extra perspectives to the scientists’ perceptions. Barend van der Meulen (Rathenau Institute) found the national differences between scientists’ experiences remarkable, given the large similarities between the Dutch and the Swiss science system at a macro-level. He hypothesized that especially the relation between scientists and their funders constituted an important difference, contrasting a Swiss sense of ownership among scientists to a feeling of distance and consumerism in the Netherlands. In his historical contribution Pieter Huistra (Utrecht University), the project’s other postdoctoral researcher, pointed out that scientists’ reservations vis-à-vis their funders have a long history, but that such reservations may have lately increased due to an increasing power and importance of funding bodies.

Competition versus collaboration

Sonja Jerak-Zuiderent (Amsterdam UMC) added an anthropological perspective to the discussion. Her research consists of ethnographic studies of scientific practice, to find out what ‘achieving good science’ means on an everyday level. Her most important conclusion was that our tendency to understand science in terms of competition is contradicted by much of scientists’ collaborative work and therefore is at least partially misguided. The need to think beyond competition was also much heard in the second part of the workshop, dedicated to constructive changes in the funding system.  

Sharing research evaluation amongst funders and researchers

Drawing upon her interview material, Meirmans offered a number of suggestions for fostering good science, scientists and evaluation practices, e.g. more focus on long-term aims also extending beyond economic ones, bottom-up science, more time and room for scientists to tinker, and a reduction in the number of evaluations and more care when doing so. Speaking from his own experience, Jeroen Geurts (ZonMw) added the need for diversification in evaluations. He shared his dream for research funding that should foster science in the form of bottom-up interdisciplinary collaborative ‘networks of networks’, which led to a very fruitful discussion. Gerd Folkers (Swiss Science Council) gave an insight into the benefits and downsides of the Swiss funding system, illustrating some elements responsible for its success: high-risk high-gain funding, a mix of funding instruments, a certain degree of scepticism towards evaluators, and a firm conviction to design funding ‘with the researchers and for the researchers’. It led the workshop’s chair and project leader Herman Paul (Leiden University) to conclude that the way forward for research evaluation should be shared by funders and researchers.

More information

ZonMw research programme Fostering Responsible Research Practices (FRRP) FRRP Project Follow the Money

Author: Dr Pieter Huistra, Department of History and Art History at Utrecht University

news-4176 Thu, 13 Jun 2019 22:36:30 +0200 Three bio artists win €25,000 with Bio Art & Design Award 2019 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/three-bio-artists-win-eur25000-with-bio-art-design-award-2019/ Bio artists Emma van der Leest and Aneta Schaap-Oziemlak (duo), Jon Ho and Michael Sedbon were named the winners of the Bio Art & Design Award 2019 (BAD Award) on Thursday June 13. During the finale, eleven international teams of artists and scientists pitched their bio art project ideas. An independent expertjury, led by jury chairman William Myers, has chosen these three projects as winners, who will each receive a prize of €25,000 to realize their bio art project. The three artworks will then be exhibited from November 29, 2019 at MU in Eindhoven.  

The award ceremony took place during the Border Sessions festival in The Hague, where the eleven teams presented their project ideas during the festival night of the four-day event. The reactions from both the jury as well as the audience were full of praise. William Myers, chairman of the international expert jury, was impressed by the submissions: “This year we had a diverse mix of ideas in the proposals, the quality of which made selecting winners difficult. Overall, they show that these kind of collaborations embrace recent research in the life sciences while pushing its boundaries. The BAD Award is among the first such awards where collaboration is central. We are proud that we can show that the fusion of creativity and research can build community while fostering deeper and better discussions about the impact of the sciences on culture.”

From bacterial culture to leather and gender fluidity 

The duo Emma van der Leest and Aneta Schaap-Oziemlak investigate the wide spectrum of properties of fungi, such as dyes and texture, and how these can be applied to improve qualities of biofabricated products. This has led to a cellulose-based ‘leather’, produced by microorganisms. In this collaboration they develop a waterproof fungi-derived biocoating to improve functional design of ‘leather’. They will realize the project in collaboration with researchers from the Center of Expertise in Mycology (Radboudumc/CWZ). 

Artist Jon Ho looks at sexual fluidity from a new perspective. Recent medical advances, combined with the increased use of gender-fluid identities in popular culture, enable the modern human to envision a reality that extends beyond the traditional confines of one’s biological sex. He dives deeper into this and aims to build an immersive installation chronicling the complex and transgressive capabilities of hermaphroditic fluidity. He will do this in collaboration with the Department of Ecological Science (DES) at VU Amsterdam.

Michael Sedbon explores the era that will be marked by the agency of everything non-human: from selforganizing urban infrastructure to ubiquitous politically driven digital networks. This raises new questions: will this act as a catalyst of already existing tensions or allow for totally new distributions of power? In an experimental setup he highlights both the hopes and issues through an artificial ecosystem comprised of photosynthetic bacterial culture sharing light resources. Governance of this resources is executed by a constantly refining algorithm. Like so, the photosynthetic cells and the computer are experimenting with different political systems granting access to this life necessary resource. Sedbon collaborates with the Biophysics of Photosynthesis research group at the VU Amsterdam. 

The jury about the winners

See the attachment for the jury's laudations about the three winners of the BAD Award 2019 (English).

About the BAD Award

The Bio Art & Design Award (BAD Award) is a unique competition for artists and researchers who push the boundaries of art and science with biotechnological projects. Since 2010, the BAD Award has encouraged young artists and scientists to explore the world of bioart and design. With the support of renowned Dutch scientists, they create new work in which life sciences and art merge. The Bio Art & Design Award is a product of collaboration between ZonMw (Medical Research Council, The Hague), MU Artspace (Eindhoven) and BioArt Laboratories (Eindhoven).

More information

Photo: Wouter Vellekoop

news-4148 Tue, 04 Jun 2019 14:36:14 +0200 Call for proposals: Hestia – Refugees in Science Scheme https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/call-for-proposals-hestia-refugees-in-science-scheme/ The ‘Refugees in Science’ pilot programme that was first launched in 2018 is set to continue in 2019 and 2020 under the name Hestia – Refugees in Science Scheme. On 4 June, NWO will announce the new call for 2019. The ‘Refugees in Science’ pilot programme that was first launched in 2018 is set to continue in 2019 and 2020 under the name Hestia – Refugees in Science Scheme. On 4 June, NWO will announce the new call for 2019.

Through the Hestia – Refugees in Science Impuls, NWO will provide funding for the appointment of academics who have fled their home country and wish to continue their scientific career in the Netherlands. Candidates must hold a master’s degree or a doctorate and must have been granted refugee status in the Netherlands. The pilot was developed in consultation with the Young Academy, KNAW and the Foundation for Refugee Students UAF.

  • The deadline for the call for proposals is 10 September 2019. 
  • More information about the call for proposals will be given during the information session on 3 July.

More information about the call for proposals and the information session can be found on the website of NWO.

news-4145 Tue, 04 Jun 2019 11:13:16 +0200 Final version of Plan S published https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/final-version-of-plan-s-published/ Friday the first of June, cOAlition S published the revised and final version of Plan S. This plan aims to accelerate the transition to open access of all academic publications. The publication of the revised plan follows an intensive consultation process, with more than 400 responses from over 40 countries. Several changes have been made to the plan, including an extension to the formal commencement point for Plan S which will now take effect from 1 January 2021. The current version of Plan S is in alignment with the open access policy ZonMw applies since 2013. The revised version of Plan S can be seen as a logical follow up. 

More about the revised verson of Plan S can be found on the website of NWO.

Zie: Finale versie van Plan S gepubliceerd voor de Nederlandse versie.

news-4139 Tue, 04 Jun 2019 08:41:43 +0200 Twenty-six teachers receive Doctoral Grant https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/twenty-six-teachers-receive-doctoral-grant/ From research on the effect of music on slowing down dementia, the impact of the digital society, the use of smart software to explain a medical diagnosis, to research that designs a model for SME financing – these are some examples of the various subjects that the talented teachers will be doing PhD research on in the coming years within this science-wide programme. The grant is meant for teachers in primary, secondary, vocational, higher vocational and special education. There are no limits to the type of PhD research that they do or want to do. With the PhD grant a replacement teacher can be appointed for a period of maximum 5 years for half of the contract hours, up to a maximum of 0.4 fte.

These are the Doctoral Grants for the domain Health reserach and development:

Nurses’ participation in Antimicrobial Stewardship (NuPAS)

M.J. (Maria) Bos (f) Avans University of Applied Sciences – Radboud University Nijmegen

Antimicrobial resistance (resistance of micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria) against antibiotics) is a global threat with major consequences for healthcare. One of the interventions that can reduce antimicrobial resistance is to ensure that antibiotics are used appropriately. Nurses can play a crucial role in this. This research aims to clarify and describe this role.

Towards nursing competencies which improve access to care for Turkish and Moroccan migrants with dementia and their informal caregivers

G. (Gözde) Duran (f) Windesheim University of Applied Sciences – VU Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The number of Turkish and Moroccan migrants with dementia is rapidly increasing. These migrants hardly use dementia care. This study explores how nurses can recognise, assess and strengthen the ability of Turkish and Moroccan migrants with dementia and their informal caregivers to improve their access to appropriate dementia care.

From black box to intelligible machine learning for the accurate diagnosis of medical images

R. (Ralf) Raumanns (m) Fontys University of Applied Sciences – Eindhoven University of Technology
Smart software, trained in medical imaging, has major potential in healthcare. It is extremely difficult, however, to pinpoint how the software ‘thinks’. This research examines how we can provide those involved with a better understanding by adding a more explicit visual explanation about the diagnosis in order to clear the path for application.

Synthesis of carbohydrate-based multivalent galectin inhibitors

N.V. (Nishant) Sewgobind (m) Avans University of Applied Sciences – Utrecht University
Blocking the action of carbohydrates on certain proteins, specifically galectins, can close off undesirable paths to certain illnesses. Powerful and selective inhibitors for galectins can make this happen. These are designed, synthesised and strengthened in this project. The evaluation will take place in important cell systems and ultimately in mice and humans.

Access to music for people with dementia

R.R. (Rik) Wesselink (m) Windesheim University of Applied Sciences – Eindhoven University of Technology
The quality of life of people with dementia decreases rapidly when they experience difficulties using everyday products and lose their initiative. This research will examine how smart technology can support people with mild-moderate dementia to benefit from the positive effects of listening to music in daily life.

Read more on the website of NWO.


news-4127 Mon, 03 Jun 2019 10:17:54 +0200 Automated tools to ensure value in research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/automated-tools-to-ensure-value-in-research/ Research environments are expected to drastically change with recent advancements in artificial intelligence and automation. Dr Gerben ter Riet and Dr Mario Malički have been commissioned by ZonMw to identify automated tools that could enhance funder's workflow and support funders in ensuring value in research, while stimulating open science and research innovation. Their findings are published in the report ‘Possible uses of automation technology for optimizing funder’s workflow’. The project included a broad literature study on automated tools and stakeholder consultations. As a result 34 current tools and services were identified and grouped according to the task they aim to facilitate within the funder workflow. For example, automation of knowledge synthesis, writing of proposals or publications, finding reviewers, and evaluating research impact. Validation of the automation tools is still lacking: nevertheless, these tools have the potential to enhance the current workflows. In addition, these tools will help to avoid research waste, fostering responsible research practices and ensuring value in research.

Read more about their findings and recommendations for funders in the article:

Mario Malički and Gerben ter Riet: Possible uses of automation technology for optimizing funder’s workflow. Report For the Committee on Open Science at ZonMw (April 2019) pdf

At The Researcher to Reader Conference in London in February 2019 they organised a series of workshops to discuss their findings.

Video of Mario Malički introducing the workshops

Video of Gerben ter Riet sharing the conclusions of the workshop


news-4092 Fri, 24 May 2019 08:25:02 +0200 Discover the to-reach Strategic Research Agenda https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/discover-the-to-reach-strategic-research-agenda/ The TO-REACH Consortium is pleased to share its draft Strategic Research Agenda (SRA). The SRA has the ambition to address the increasing challenges faced by health systems, directed to those research areas of major relevance in the coming years. In particular, the TO-REACH SRA provides a European strategy to advance our knowledge and understanding of the adoption, implementation and potential scale-up of service and policy innovations while also addressing their translation to other settings within and across countries.

TO-REACH is also launching an online consultation on its SRA. The aim of the consultation is to gather inputs on the document from a wide range of stakeholders to move towards the development of a future EU joint research programme on health services and health systems research.

The consultation will be open until 28th June 2019 !

news-4023 Fri, 10 May 2019 14:22:42 +0200 New strategic research and innovation agenda on antimicrobial resistance https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/new-strategic-research-and-innovation-agenda-on-antimicrobial-resistance/ The update of the JPIAMR Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda on Antimicrobial Resistance (SRIA) presents an overview of recent developments and future needs for AMR research. The agenda was launched 7th May 2019. The SRIA outlines 6 key priority topics within the AMR field: therapeutics, diagnostics, surveillance, transmission, environment and interventions. The SRIA has defined a set of research objectives within each priority topic. Together, 27 countries have created the SRIA.

The SRIA highlights many important research needs, including:

  •     The need to address AMR with a holistic One Health approach
  •     The necessity of including innovation in every aspect of AMR research
  •     Increased inclusion of Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs)
  •     The need for developments incorporating personalised medicine and artificial intelligence

The SRIA is a prime guiding tool for AMR research prioritisation in investments, research activities and planning for JPIAMR member states and other funding initiatives. It is also one of the most thorough guidelines on AMR research, helping researchers, policy makers, media, educators, health workers and the scientific community to work together on solutions to curb AMR on a global scale.

More information

news-4019 Thu, 09 May 2019 15:02:31 +0200 Award Fostering Responsible Research Practices https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/award-fostering-responsible-research-practices/ Three projects have each been awarded 75,000 euros to implement knowledge from previous projects from the Fostering Responsible Research Practices programme. These include the establishment of a platform for knowledge and advice about responsible scientific editing policy, the organisation of workshops for hospital personnel to improve the implementation of guidelines and laws concerning the use of human material, and finally the provision of workshops and courses about the shared ideals for responsible biomedical research and how these can be applied in practice. With this approach, the programme will make an important contribution to responsive, transparent and responsible research practices.

In 2017, various projects started within the opening round of the Fostering Responsible Research Practices programme. These projects have now yielded promising results in the area of responsible research practices. ZonMw wants to ensure the implementation of this knowledge and experience. The project groups were therefore invited to submit an implementation plan in the Open Round – Implementation Call.

The following three projects were awarded funding:

Platform for Responsible Editorial Policies (PREP)

Project leader: Dr W. Halffman

The PREP project is a follow-up to the IMPER study into how scientific journals assess their publications using the peer-review procedure. We found pointers for the types of peer review that are more likely to ensure that articles are not first published and then retracted due to errors. In PREP, we will build a website about peer review on which academic journal editors can receive advice about how their peer review procedure could be improved. In exchange for that advice, we will, in turn, collect more data about the current peer review procedures of academic journals. We intend the PREP website to grow into a knowledge platform about responsible editing of academic journals. Recommendations about improved transparency and the responsible use of publication indicators will therefore be included.

PREP will be realised in collaboration with the Centre for Science and Technology Studies in Leiden.

Practical help towards responsible use of residual biospecimens and data in medical research in the Netherlands

Project leader: Dr M.K. Schmidt & Dr S. Rebers

For many disorders, human material, such as tumour tissue, is taken during an operation or for diagnostic purposes. Subsequently, surplus material often remains that can be used for scientific research. Dutch and European guidelines and laws govern the proper and transparent "further use" of human material with respect to privacy and consent, for example. The project group has developed a toolkit to help hospitals better implement these guidelines and laws. The toolkit contains technological and other resources, examples of good practices and implementation strategies. This project aims to facilitate the use of this toolkit by organising workshops. This meets the wishes of hospital employees to share experiences to facilitate the implementation. Moreover, specific knowledge acquired during the earlier project, especially about GDPR, will be translated into online flow diagrams to enable hospitals to use this knowledge in a practical way.

Stimulating Academic Gatekeeper Engagement in responsible research assessment (SAGE)

Project leader: Prof. S. de Rijcke

The project "ORR" has yielded a wealth of knowledge about the shared ideals of responsible biomedical research and the different ways in which these ideals are shaped in practice. In "SAGE", the researchers will translate the results to the practice of organising and evaluating biomedical research. With this, the focus will be on the "gatekeepers" at university medical centres who can contribute to changing the criteria for assessing and rewarding researchers. SAGE will result in: a workshop tailored to the organisation and a report for each of our two partner institutes (Deliverables 1 and 2); a two-day course for the responsible administrators working at all Dutch university medical centres (Deliverable 3); instructional videos about responsible evaluation for the purpose of the course, which will be made available online upon conclusion of the course (Deliverable 4).

More information

  • Programme Fostering Responsible Research Practices  The programme Fostering Responsible Research Practices funds research into responsible research practices. This programme therefore responds to the need for more quality, integrity and efficiency in scientific research.


"Evolution or Revolution" The researcher in 2030
On Thursday, 23 May 2019, ZonMw and NWO are organising the conference "Evolution or Revolution?" which will be held at the Fokker Terminal in The Hague. Would you like more information? Programme and registration


news-4017 Thu, 09 May 2019 11:55:16 +0200 Call for proposals for innovative research on lymphoma https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/call-for-proposals-for-innovative-research-on-lymphoma/ The Lymph&Co Foundation is funding innovative scientific research from basic/preclinical research through translational research to treatment and prevention of lymphoma by outstanding researchers worldwide. In 2020, we intend to fund one or two research projects with a maximum budget of 1.5 M€.

The deadline for submitting the pre-proposals is 15 July 2019.

More information?

Please visit Lymph&Co Research Grant

news-3989 Mon, 29 Apr 2019 14:49:48 +0200 Apply now for a Gender in Research Fellowship - deadline 9th of May https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/apply-now-for-a-gender-in-research-fellowship-deadline-9th-of-may/ The deadline to apply for a Gender in Research Fellowship is approaching fast! With the fellowship, both national and international PhD-students and postdoctoral researchers from all kinds of health-related disciplines are given the opportunity to attend this interesting new course of the Erasmus Summer Programme, focusing on gender, health and research. Through the Gender and Health course and the Gender in Research workshops, participants are provided with new skills and knowledge on why and how to include sex and gender considerations in all phases of the research cycle. This is highly important, as biological, psychosocial and cultural factors can affect the health of men and women differently.

ZonMw encourages the next generation of researchers to gain the skills and know-how of integrating sex and gender in their future work. The course is held from 19-23 August 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. ZonMw offers 20 fellowships for this joint course programme. Deadline for application is May 9th, 14.00h. Read the flyer for more information.

Apply here for the fellowships

Flyer Gender&Health



news-3971 Thu, 25 Apr 2019 12:15:40 +0200 Share your vision about scientist 2030 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/share-your-vision-about-scientist-2030/ The recognition and appreciation of the scientist of the future will be the subject of our discussion with established and young scientists, researchers, funding organisations and civil-society partners. New set of competencies for tomorrow’s scientists

Is science in need of renewal? Society as a whole takes a critical view of the value and function of science. The recognition and appreciation of scientists relies strongly on citations and impact factors and scientists face serious pressures in terms of their time and their performance in both research and teaching. But what does the current system say about their contribution to science or to society? Is it time to consider a completely new set of competencies for tomorrow’s scientists?

Share your vision

In the Fokker Terminal in The Hague on 23 May, 2019, ZonMw and NWO are organising the conference 'Evolution or revolution? Join the conversation about the scientist of 2030'. You are warmly welcome to attend – sign up and share your vision.

Join the conversation online: #wetenschapper2030



news-3954 Fri, 19 Apr 2019 17:20:01 +0200 ZonMw joines GLoPID-R for infectious diseases https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-joines-glopid-r-for-infectious-diseases-1/ GloPID-R is pleased to welcome the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), represented by Suzanne Verver, into the network. GloPID-R is a unique international network of major research funding organizations. The network of 27 countries facilitates a rapid and effective research response to infectious disease outbreaks. ZonMw and international research

ZonMw funds health research in the Netherlands and promotes the practical application of the knowledge this research produces. While mainly focused on research projects within the country, it also has an international focus through its participation in various European initiatives, including Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs), ERA-NETs, and European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). ZonMw also participates in Heads of International Research Organisations (HIROs) to discuss large, international health care themes.

Antibiotic resistance

ZonMw runs separate programmes for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and other aspects of infectious diseases. For these programs the aim is to cover the entire spectrum of research from science to policy and through a One Health approach. ZonMw currently runs a national research program on antibacterial resistance (ABR) and is partner in the Strategic Research Agenda of the JPI on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR), also a partner of GloPID-R. In the national programme, ZonMw finances many projects studying ABR such as alternative ways to reduce antibiotic use in animals and human-animal ABR transmission.

Infectious diseases

ZonMw also runs a national programma on infectious disease control, including non-alimentary zoonoses. Emerging infectious disease research is part of this programme. The programme funds currently around 40 large research projects, including projects on HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, STIs, pneumonia, vaccine preventable diseases, infection control, arbovirusses, Lyme disease, campylobacter, rabies, Zika, tick-borne diseases, psittacosis and clostridium difficile. By joining GLoPID-R ZonMw intends to expand its international collaboration on emerging infectious diseases.

Data sharing

Despite being a new member, ZonMw jumped into the network and has already participated in the GloPID-R Data Sharing working group. GloPID-R appreciates their participation and looks forward to learning more from their expertise.

More information


news-3952 Fri, 19 Apr 2019 09:49:00 +0200 ZonMw, NWO and KNAW to sign DORA declaration https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-nwo-and-knaw-to-sign-dora-declaration/ KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) and ZonMw (Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) will sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) on 18 April. DORA is a global initiative that aims to reduce dependence on bibliometric indicators (such as publications and citations) in the evaluation of research and researchers, and increase the use of other criteria. The declaration outlines a set of recommendations on how to improve research evaluation. KNAW, NWO and ZonMw fully endorse the principles laid out in the DORA declaration and will adapt their own procedures to it.

The DORA declaration was published in 2012 and targets research funders, publishers, research institutes and researchers. The declaration has already been signed by more than 1,200 organisations and almost 14,000 researchers around the world.

Signing the DORA declaration fits within the broader aim of developing new approaches for recognising and valuing researchers in the Netherlands. Moreover, this coincides with the transition to open science and open access. The key aim is to evaluate research and researchers on their merits.

Signing DORA means that organisations have to align their practices and procedures with the principles in this declaration. DORA is about more than just that, however. Endorsing the values of DORA requires a broader discussion within the scientific community about how researchers evaluate (each other) and about the criteria for evaluating scientific quality.

Joint follow-up actions

KNAW, NWO and VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands, which had already signed the declaration) will team up to ensure that the DORA principles become firmly entrenched during the forthcoming review of the standard evaluation protocol (SEP).

As far as the KNAW and NWO institutes are concerned, staff policy will be made DORA-proof where necessary. Indeed, more attention will be devoted to the value of the content and the impact of the research, and other forms of output like citations or impact factors of journals will be taken into account as well. On 23 May, ZonMw and NWO are organising the conference 'Evolution or revolution?' to launch a discussion about rethinking how we recognise and value scientists. KNAW is organising a gathering for its members on 7 June to discuss the significance of DORA.

    Join the conversation about the scientist 2030 at the conference Evolutie of revolutie (23 May 2019)

NWO and ZonMw’s follow-up steps

As a result of having signed the DORA declaration, NWO and ZonMw are planning to take the following concrete steps:

  • Identify (and substantiate) more clearly which criteria will be used to evaluate quality. This will be carried out for all funding instruments in the context of the specific objective of the instrument in question.
  • Remove all references to Journal Impact Factors and the h-index in all call texts and application forms.
  • Actively inform referees and committee members about NWO and ZonMw’s signing of DORA and the consequences that this will have for them, namely: that their main priority when evaluating research proposals must be the quality of the researcher and of the proposal’s content and not the prestige of the journals in which researchers have published or the statistics derived from that, such as the Journal Impact Factor or the h-index. A training activity is being developed for referees, committee members and secretaries.
  • Take other scientific outputs with scientific and/or societal impact into account as well (such as data, software, codes, patents, and so forth) when evaluating quality.
  • Maximise publication lists in applications. Ask researchers to explain in detail how they are contributing to their scientific field: why and what was the impact of their work on science and/or society? Some experience has been gained in this area already, among others through the pre-proposal pilot for the Veni scheme.
  • Accept preprints as research output, in line with recent policy changes introduced by the European Research Council (ERC).
  • Explicitly recognise open research practices by applicants in evaluation procedures and acknowledge their value. NWO is considering a pilot with an ‘open science track record question’ on application forms. Researchers would thus be asked about their commitment (in the past and in the future) to open science activities: open access publishing, sharing of preprints, sharing of research data and other kinds of open science.

KNAW’s follow-up steps

KNAW has further adapted its procedures and practices to the DORA principles during the past period. The guidelines for nominating members to KNAW and The Young Academy are already DORA-proof. The guidelines for awards and funding handled by KNAW will be brought more in line with the DORA principles.

In the coming period, KNAW will also focus on DORA’s points of departure by facilitating discussions between scientists. What are the benchmarks for evaluating quality? What kinds of opportunities have presented themselves? As a scientist, how do you proceed in practice when you have to evaluate dossiers as a member of an appointment committee, as a department head or as a peer reviewer for grants or for nominations and recommendations?

This discussion, which is already being conducted in various juries and committees, will take place during a member gathering on this theme on 7 June, for example.

More information

news-3934 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 09:19:20 +0200 ZonMw participates in the public-private partnership VALUE-Dx to fight antimicrobial resistance https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-participates-in-the-public-private-partnership-value-dx-to-fight-antimicrobial-resistance-1/ On April 1st 2019 the kick-off meeting of the European public-private partnership VALUE-Dx took place. This European-wide approach aims to generate evidence on the medical, economic, and public health value of diagnostics in tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR). As a member of the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR), ZonMw participates in this consortium. Better prescription and use of antibiotics

VALUE-Dx is the first Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) project that is conceived by representatives of the diagnostics sector and includes world renowned experts from a wide range of academic disciplines. The project is initiated by 6 in vitro diagnostic companies that join forces with 20 non-industry partners that together set out to combat AMR and improve patient outcomes. The consortium aims to transform medical practice to achieve more personalised, evidence-based antibiotic prescription and use in community care settings through the widespread use of clinical and cost-effective innovative diagnostic strategies. VALUE-Dx is co-funded by the European Commission (IMI), the Wellcome Trust and private companies, with a total budget of approximately 14 million euros over 4 years.

AMR and diagnostics

Diagnostics are an essential element in the fight against AMR, and as mentioned by Dr. Pierre Meulien, Executive Director of IMI, “Only by pooling expertise and working together in this way can we hope to address major challenges like AMR”. The project will focus on acute respiratory tract infections acquired in community care settings. These infections are the most frequent cause of medical consultation and inappropriate antibiotic use. Moreover, the outcomes of VALUE-Dx have the potential to be applied to other common infections such as urinary tract infections, blood stream infections, and hospital-acquired respiratory tract infections.


“VALUE-Dx is a unique multidisciplinary consortium, with participation of clinicians, microbiologists, health economists, social scientists, and industry”, states Professor Dr. Goossens of the University of Antwerp and coordinator of this project. Furthermore, he mentions: “the VALUE-Dx project will be a game changer to show the true medical and economic value of diagnostics to support antibiotic stewardship and preserve the efficacy of these medications for improving patient care today and for future generations.”

ZonMw: participation in VALUE-Dx as member of JPIAMR

ZonMw participates in JPIAMR since 2012. This research initiative of 27 countries coordinates national public funding to support AMR research and activities in a transnational manner. ZonMw coordinates two work packages. One has resulted in a newly updated strategic research and innovation agenda including priority areas such as the development of new therapeutics, diagnostics, transmission, environment, interventions and surveillance. The second one promotes reuse of research data and microbial collections, as well as supporting services and research infrastructures.


Enabling reuse of data and microbial collections is the common interest of JPIAMR and VALUE-Dx. Therefore, ZonMw is currently developing a survey with the aim of getting an overview of existing resources and services that are relevant for AMR research. The overview will be made available for the entire AMR research community. It will advance AMR research by making valuable resources and services findable, and contribute to their reusability.

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news-3910 Mon, 15 Apr 2019 08:46:14 +0200 Young research talents off to foreign top institutes thanks to Rubicon https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/young-research-talents-off-to-foreign-top-institutes-thanks-to-rubicon/ 17 researchers who have recently received their PhDs can do their research at foreign research institutes thanks to a Rubicon grant from NWO. They will investigate, amongst other things, artificial intelligence for improved ultrasonography, Imaging muscle function in ALS patients, Printing living tissue through protective cell coating and new blood vessel formation. The Rubicon programme gives young, highly promising researchers the opportunity to gain international research experience. Thanks to the Rubicon grant, these young researchers can do their research at top institutes like the University of Cambridge and Harvard University.

These 6 project will contribute to health research and development:

A healthy pregnancy for a healthy child's heart

  • Dr A.W. (Arend) van Deutekom (m), VU Amsterdam -> United Kingdom, University of Oxford, Department of Cardiovascular Clinical Research, 12 months. Birth-related factors influence the disposition for later cardiovascular diseases. Using new imaging techniques we will investigate how these factors influence the development of the child's heart, and whether a healthy pregnancy results in a healthier heart for posterity.

Imaging muscle function in ALS patients

  • L. (Linda) Heskamp MSc (f) Radboudumc -> United Kingdom, University of Newcastle, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre, 24 months. In ALS patients, some muscles are frequently affected and others rarely. The researcher wants to understand this by using a new imaging technique to investigate the muscle composition and function of several muscles in ALS patients to gather knowledge for the development of treatments.

Printing living tissue through protective cell coating

  • Dr T. (Tom) Kamperman (m), University of Twente -> United States, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Department of Medicine, Division of Engineering in Medicine, Shin Laboratory, 12 months. The 3D printing of organs offers new solutions for treating diseases. Unfortunately, many cells die during the 3D printing process. In this project, I will develop a protective cell coating as a result of which cell death during the printing process will be prevented.

Understanding new blood vessel formation

  • Dr T. (Tommaso) Ristori (m), Eindhoven University of Technology -> United States, Boston University, Biomedical Engineering, 24 months. By combining sophisticated computational models and experiments, I will unravel the interaction between different cellular signals regulating the formation of new healthy and pathological blood vessels. This research contributes to the development of new medical treatments for diseases such as cancer and ischaemia.

Artificial intelligence for improved ultrasonograph

  • Dr R.J.G. (Ruud) van Sloun (m), Eindhoven University of Technology ->Israel, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, 12 months. The most important medical imaging techniques today, such as MRI and CT, are not sustainable. The machines are very large, use dangerous radiation or are very expensive. An exception is ultrasonography, but this does not provide the same image quality as MRI/CT. The researcher will deploy artificial intelligence to change this.

A closer look at the inflammatory response

  • Dr L. (Lotte) Spel (f), University Medical Center Utrecht -> Switzerland, University of Lausanne, Biochemistry, 24 months. Constant inflammation without a cause; often associated with fever, skin rash and joint pain. The researcher will investigate the so-called inflammatory diseases at the molecular level. She will zoom in on the working mechanism by unravelling which proteins switch on and switch off the inflammation.

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news-3875 Wed, 03 Apr 2019 13:55:35 +0200 Preventing behavioural problems from changing the child's brain https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/preventing-behavioural-problems-from-changing-the-childs-brain/ Research conducted at Erasmus University Rotterdam reveals that a child's brain changes in the event of persistent behavioural problems. Windesheim University of Applied Sciences translates this type of new knowledge into the educational situation. The longer serious behavioural problems exist in the children, the higher the chance that their brains change. This was demonstrated by neurobiological research carried out at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Windesheim University of Applied Sciences is working on embedding this type of new knowledge in the courses it offers to youth and legal professionals.

‘Our aim is to improve the lives of children and families’, says child and youth psychiatrist Tonya White. At the Erasmus University Rotterdam, she is head of brain imaging in Generation R, a large-scale population study into children and young people in Rotterdam. Children with severe behavioural problems and severe mental health problems run a higher risk of developing a mental health disorder as adults, says White. This disorder is not necessarily the same as that experienced in childhood and can, for example, manifest as addiction, personality or mood disorders. ‘Clearly there is something in the brain that gives a higher risk for all of these disorders’, says White. That "something" is what she wants to gain a clear picture of in this research.

Visible and invisible differences

White is therefore now investigating how the brain in children with severe anxiety, depression, aggression and attention problems (in summary: a dysregulation profile) develops. On scans from the youngest group, aged 6 to 9 years, she found almost no difference in the brains of the children with and without problems. However, in the following measurement, in children aged 9 to 11 years, these differences were present. They were visible in the white matter (that makes the connections between the different areas of the brain), the thickness of the adrenal cortex and in the areas involved in higher cognitive functions. The learning ability of the children with a dysregulation profile, corrected for genetic influences, was an average eight points lower.

Stable behavioural problems

‘Behavioural problems in children aged six years are far less predictive than in older children’, concludes White. ‘The stability of behavioural problems increases with the age of the child. If behaviour is continuously repeated, then the brain starts to behave differently.’ The psychiatrist is therefore in favour of early interventions. These could contribute to the brain continuing to develop more according to normal patterns. However, intervention research is first of all needed before we can know that for certain, says White. ‘The cause of the problems can vary. That requires different types of interventions. For some children, behavioural therapy is good, whereas others need family therapy.’ Knowledge exchange with professionals would be good, concludes White, who would prefer nothing more than that the insights from her research find their way into professional practice.


The project “Unfamiliarity breeds suspicion” that Windesheim University of Applied Sciences carries out in collaboration with Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, NeuroLabNL and two academic workplaces for youth, is in line with that wish. The aim is to translate existing neurobiological and psychosocial knowledge about problematic antisocial and criminal behaviour of young people to the higher vocational education setting, including the study programme “Social Work and the minor. Working in a constrained context”. Unlike universities, knowledge does not always reach the curriculum of higher vocational education courses for future coaches and care providers, says project leader and lector Youth Dorien Graas. These professionals in training often know too little about recent scientific insights and the significance of these for their work. ‘Whereas that is often so desperately needed for these young people with often persistent problems.’

Three steps

The project will start in May this year by bringing together existing knowledge. That includes evidenced-based insights as well as knowledge from professional practice and people with relevant experience. In the next step, the knowledge collected will be translated into education modules for future professionals and professionals already working in the field. This will be done using the method of Design Thinking. ‘We will first develop a prototype together with university of applied sciences lecturers, people with relevant experience, young people and researchers. We will subsequently refine each prototype into an optimal module.’ Step three concerns a dynamic development to rapidly incorporate new knowledge into existing modules. Otherwise professions will continue to work with outdated insights.


The modules will also tackle how people view neurobiological insights and their attitude towards these, says Graas, ‘This is because, among professionals as equally young people and their parents, we see an overestimation and underestimation of the role biological factors play. Those perceptions partly determine what will happen with the insights. Therefore we first want to know which knowledge the professionals have and how they view this. During the development of new modules, we want to pay close attention to that.’

No third line of action

The integration of existing sociological, psychological and neurological knowledge is another ambition of the project. Graas: ‘In the past, the emphasis was first on the social factors and then on the psychological factors. With the neurobiology, we do not want to add a third line of action, but rather link the explanations this offers to the other explanatory models. We want people to realise that these three levels are associated with each other.’ The lector already looks forward to future exchanges with researchers like Tonya White. ‘With our approach we are taking a fantastic step towards the implementation of knowledge. Thanks to our broad collaboration we can continue to guarantee the knowledge transfer and with that the expertise of our future professionals.’

Author: Veronique Huijbregts, Mediator 34

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news-3827 Mon, 25 Mar 2019 15:20:58 +0100 From fundamental research to personalised medicine for cancer: ‘We increasingly know which drug works best for which patient.' https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/from-fundamental-research-to-personalised-medicine-for-cancer-we-increasingly-know-which-drug-work/ Fundamental research formed the basis for the personalised treatment of cancer patients. Thanks to whole gene sequencing, doctors can now treat their patients based on their genetic makeup. That is not only good news for the patient but also medical science, says Edwin Cuppen, director of the Hartwig Medical Foundation. ‘Knowledge about cancer is increasing, and much of that is entering the clinic to improve the treatment of patients’. ‘Every letter from you r DNA mutates at least once every three years somewhere in your body’, says Edwin Cuppen, Professor of Human Genetics at the University Medical Center Utrecht and principal investigator at the Oncode Institute. Cuppen is also director of the Hartwig Medical Foundation, a non-profit organisation that through a systematic, data-driven approach is trying to understand the development of cancer and in so doing aims to improve the treatment of patients.

Recipe book

DNA, our molecular recipe book, can be found in every cell of the body. It contains all the recipes for the proteins that give each cell its function: the genome. The information in the genome is written in four types of letters: the bases cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine. But just like during the repeated copying of a recipe, during the copying of the DNA, errors can occur between the letters, and mistakes can happen due to external factors such as ultraviolet light and smoking. These mutations can cause cancer by undermining the self-correcting capacity of the genome.


Thanks to fundamental research into the function of DNA, scientists have been able to read the letters of the molecular recipe book since the 1970s. They read the DNA by chemically unravelling it to make the sequence of the base visible so that recipes can be read. Initially, researchers could decipher 100 to 1000 letters of the genome per day using manual sequencing techniques. Due to the automation of this process that increased to hundreds of thousands in the 1990s. This led to the development of the Human Genome Project, an international collaboration of researchers that managed to read out the entire human genome in 15 years.


Thanks to improvements in and the scaling up of that sequencing process, the genome of a single person can now be processed within a single day (whole genome sequencing). That technology enables researchers and treating physicians to examine the DNA of cancer patients and to offer a personalised treatment based on the patient's genetic makeup. Cuppen: ‘We compare the DNA of the tumour with the normal DNA of the patient. This allows us to make statements about the characteristics of the cancer, such as heritability, and how drugs will respond to it.’

Precision drugs

The fundamental research underlying Cuppen's work makes it possible to develop drugs that are more precise than traditional chemotherapy, which inhibits the division of all cells in the body. Newer drugs specifically target one or more processes that underlie the onset of cancer. However, these drugs are often so specific, or the processes they are aimed at so complex, that they do not work for all cancer patients. More specific administration of these drugs is therefore desperately needed, says Cuppen. ‘We still do not know enough to find an effective, personalised treatment of cancer for every patient. Currently, we feel that a treatment is effective when we have done scientific studies that prove that the drug has a better result than the one we obtained previously. Nevertheless, this still often means that the drug only works for 30% of the patients and that 70% of the patients are overtreated.

Side effects and costs

This overtreatment often causes serious side effects, whereas doctors want to treat their patients as safely as possible. Moreover, if the treating physician prescribes a drug that does not work, then the patient only experiences the side effects. Furthermore, these drugs are expensive and unnecessary prescribing creates cost pressures. Cuppen: ‘It is in the interest of pharmaceutical companies that their drugs are prescribed to as many patients as possible. At the same time, they therefore put pressure on our healthcare system. I support effective drugs entering the market on time, but we subsequently do nothing to reduce overtreatment and to investigate which patients benefit from these drugs, and which not. I find that unacceptable.'

Project TANGO

In the project TANGO, a national collaboration of researchers is seeking a solution for these problems. The whole genome sequencing realised by the Hartwig Medical Foundation lies at the basis of this. It collects relevant information from the DNA of individual patients and is building a database that includes patients' clinical details. Thus, researchers and treating physicians can look for correlations and explain the effectiveness of drugs. The aim is to be able to predict whether or not somebody will respond to a particular type of immunotherapy. That will prevent side effects and the unnecessary prescription of expensive drugs. In addition, TANGO will explore how making systematic use of whole genome sequencing for this patient group will influence the costs for our healthcare system.


The database of the Hartwig Medical Foundation contains information from more than 400,000 cancer patients and is therefore a unique source for research worldwide. Furthermore, the genetic information enables doctors to offer an alternative treatment possibility to some patients who have exhausted other treatment options, as it often provides leads for medication registered for other indications. But this comes too late for many of the patients whose DNA information can be found in the database. They have since died from the consequences of their illness. And that is distressing, says Cuppen. ‘A broader diagnostics and another therapy might have been able to help them. Although fundamental knowledge about cancer has increased considerably, much of that knowledge is still waiting for the development of appropriate drugs.’

For the generation of the sequencing data, researchers from the Hartwig Medical Foundation are working on this project together with the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Netherlands Cancer Institute, University Medical Center Utrecht, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Erasmus Medical Center, University Medical Center Groningen, Amsterdam University Medical Center, University of Twente and CPCT.

TANGO is one of the projects awarded funding from the ZonMw research programme Personalised Medicine with a focus on Rare Diseases and Oncology. The initiators of this programme, the Dutch Cancer Foundation, health insurer Zilveren Kruis and ZonMw, are jointly investigating how developments in the area of gene sequencing can reach the patients faster.

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news-3824 Mon, 25 Mar 2019 14:54:16 +0100 Gender in research fellowship https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/gender-in-research-fellowship-2/ This Summer, ZonMw and Erasmus MC offer an interesting joint course program on gender, health and research, as part of the Erasmus Summer Programme in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The Gender and Health Knowledge Program offers 20 Gender in Research Fellowships for PhD-students and post-doctoral researchers to participate in the program. From 19-23 August 2019, (inter)national experts and guest speakers from a multitude of disciplines will come together in Rotterdam to share their knowledge and research expertise with the next generation of researchers from all over the world. The ZonMw Gender in Research workshops in the afternoon will allow participants to improve their skills in performing health research by including a sex and gender perspective in every stage of the research cycle. The morning sessions provides participants with the latest knowledge on critical issues for women and men through the life-cycle.

The ZonMw Gender and Health Knowledge Program will provide 20 Gender in Research Fellowships for PhD-students and post-doctoral trainees to attend the joint Gender and Health course program. These fellowships are not just for Dutch young researchers. International researchers are also very welcome to apply for a fellowship. Interested? Read more about the fellowship on our Funding Information page and submit your application before 9 May 2019, 14:00hr.


news-8140 Fri, 22 Mar 2019 15:09:00 +0100 Start research into health risks of microplastics https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/start-research-into-health-risks-of-microplastics/ ZonMw has given the starting shot for 15 unique research projects into the effects of micro-and nanoplastics on our health. This is the first scientific programme in the world about the subject. A total of 1.6 million euros is being invested in the studies. Professor Dick Vethaak van Deltares, involved in 4 of the 15 research projects, explains: ‘Microplastics easily spread via water and wind which results in a worldwide problem; they are found everywhere and are present like a kind of grey mist in our environment.
We are continuously exposed to small plastic particles via our food, drink or the air we breathe  However, the significance of this for our health cannot be properly estimated yet. There are strong indications of possible health risks, but many uncertainties and knowledge gaps also exist.’

Vethaak continues: ‘I’m therefore very pleased with this initiative from ZonMw and the involvement of the Plastic Soup Foundation. It concerns an initial exploratory study in which experts from various disciplines and sectors will collaborate. In particular, the collaboration between environmental scientists and medical specialists is both unique and robust. With this, the Netherlands is playing an internationally leading role. I therefore expect a lot from the research!’

The projects, with a duration of one year, consider important questions such as:

  • How can microplastics penetrate our body?
  • Which role do the size, shape and composition of the particles play in this?
  • Could plastic debris form a source of diseases and infections in view of the fact that certain bacteria seem to thrive on plastic?
  • Can our immune system deal with plastic, or will we run a higher chance of inflammations and infections because of plastic?
  • How deep do microplastics penetrate into our body? Do they harm the human brain? And are they harmful to the unborn child?

Dr Heather Leslie from VU Amsterdam, involved in three of the projects, says: ‘If plastic particles can lead to chronic inflammations, then that could be the prelude to a whole series of chronic diseases. We therefore need to urgently investigate how many plastic particles from our consumer society penetrate the human body.’

The first interim results will be presented on 3 October during a Plastic & Health congress in Amsterdam.

Just the beginning

ZonMw emphasises that the awarding of these 15 projects is only the beginning. A year is not long enough to obtain all of the answers. Henk Smid, director of ZonMw, sees huge potential in the studies and therefore hopes that long-term follow-up research will be possible. ‘The Netherlands has a leading international position in scientific research into microplastics, and this must be expanded as quickly as possible.’

Plastic Health Coalition

Communication about the different pilot projects and the (interim) results will be organised by the Plastic Health Coalition, an initiative of the Plastic Soup Foundation. In this coalition, various national and international environmental and research organisations work together that are all concerned about, or conduct research into, the effects of (micro) plastic on our health.

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news-3695 Thu, 28 Feb 2019 16:57:59 +0100 SAVE THE DATE: Evolution or revolution? https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/save-the-date-evolution-or-revolution/ Join the discussion about the scientist of 2030. Is it time for a scientific revolution? Society is increasingly critical about the value and function of science. Scientists are heavily dependent on citations and 'impact factors' for recognition of their work, and they feel under huge pressure to perform and publish while at the same time juggling their other academic responsibilities. But what does the current system actually tell us about their contribution to science or society? Is it time to recognise a new set of competences for the scientists of tomorrow? How would you like to be recognised as a scientist? This will be the subject of discussion on 23 May. If you have a clear idea and vision about these issues, then you should put the conference on 23 May in your diary. Don’t miss it!

What to expect

Various inspiring speakers will share their vision of the scientist in 2030 and what is needed to achieve this vision. This will be followed by a discussion during which you and the other participants can share your own visions and formulate possible routes to achieve the ‘scientist of 2030’. ZonMw and NWO have organised this conference because we believe it is time to start rethinking how modern scientists are recognised and valued.

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the programme of the conference

news-3670 Tue, 26 Feb 2019 12:15:00 +0100 32 scientists to receive NWO Vici grants worth 1.5 million euros 32 leading scientists will each receive 1.5 million https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/32-scientists-to-receive-nwo-vici-grants-worth-15-million-euros-32-leading-scientists-will-each-re/ 32 leading scientists will each receive 1.5 million euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This Vici grant will enable them to develop an innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years. Vici is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands and targets advanced researchers. The scientists conduct research in different fields. Indeed, the Vici grant gives scientists the freedom to propose their own research project for funding. The Vici laureates will examine how living cells handle stress, whether a computer can predict illnesses and what kind of an impact the emergence of co-parenting and new forms of relationship will have on children and parents. Other research will examine whether stem cells can change sex and which genes can be activated for that purpose. Researchers are also going to develop a new microscopy method to examine molecular structures a millionth of a millimetre large. These are merely a selection from the various research topics.


Of the 239 proposals, 88 (37%) were submitted by women and 151 (63%) by men. Overall, 11 female candidates and 21 male candidates were awarded a grant. The award rate is therefore 13 and 14 per cent respectively.

Talent Scheme: about Vici

The Vici grant targets highly experienced researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative lines of research, and to act as coaches for young researchers. Vici provides researchers with the opportunity to set up their own research group, often in anticipation of a tenured professorship. The Vici grant is one of three funding instruments within the Talent Scheme. The other two instruments are the Veni grant (for recently graduated PhDs, up to 3 years after graduation) and the Vidi grant (for experienced postdocs, up to 8 years after graduation).

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news-3537 Tue, 05 Feb 2019 08:06:00 +0100 New online service desk for Vici applications at ZonMw https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/new-online-service-desk-for-vici-applications-at-zonmw/ NWO and ZonMw opened the 2019 Vici round on 23 January 2019. As in the Veni round of 2019, ZonMw will be using a new system for applications to the Healthhcare Research and Medical Sciences divisiondomain. Known as ‘Mijn ZonMw', it replaces 'ProjectNet'. The procedure for assessing and selecting applications will remain the same. Mijn ZonMw has a number of practical implications for Vici applicants for the Healthcare Research and Medical Sciences divisiondomain. A large amount of information must for example be entered in the Mijn ZonMw digital environment, and Vici applicants must create a new account. The advice is therefore to begin your application process in good time.

This change applies only to applications to the Healthcare Research and Medical Sciences divisiondomain. Applications to the other NWO domains, Social Sciences and Humanities, Exact and Natural SciencesScience and Applied and Technical Engineering Sciences divisions can be submitted in ISAAC, as in previous years.

In case you have any questions regarding the call, you contact us, Sanneke van Vliet +31 70 349 5454 or Nina Albers, +31 70 349 5437, during the telephone consultation hour on:

  • Tuesday 12 March 2019 10:30-12:30 hours
  • Tuesday 19 March 2019 15:00-17:00 hours
  • Friday 22 March 2019 10:00-12:00 hours
  • Monday 25 March 2019 15:00-17:00 hours

Go to the ZonMw website for more information on Mijn ZonMw and Vici:

news-3525 Tue, 29 Jan 2019 08:59:39 +0100 Call for proposals: ZonMw Open Competition For renewal in research and collaboration https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/call-for-proposals-zonmw-open-competition-for-renewal-in-research-and-collaboration/ ZonMw opened its call for proposals for the ZonMw Open Competition. The aim of the ZonMw Open Competition is to create space for excellent, curiosity-driven, groundbreaking science. Research groups of excellent quality can use a grant of €750,000 to renew their line of research and enter into new collaborations. The grant offers excellent research groups the opportunity to revitalise their line of research, enter into new collaborations and perform studies of exceptional quality in the field of health. In view of its purpose of revitalising lines of research the ZonMw Open Competition is specifically intended for combinations of research groups.


In the ZonMw Open Competition applicants may request funding for staff, equipment loans, investment, valorisation/impact and internationalisation. The Investment module includes the possibility of an extra grant for medium-sized infrastructure. The investment should be between €100,000 and €250,000, and be intended for funding innovative scientific equipment, for example. Matching funding is required for such extra infrastructural investments.

Procedure and deadlines

The procedure consists of two stages: a project idea and a full application. Submission of a project idea is a mandatory part of the procedure, and the deadline is 28 March 2019. The deadline for submission of full applications is 29 August 2019.

In line with the process of harmonisation and simplification of funding instruments across the board at NWO, the ZonMw Open Competition replaces ZonMw’s TOP Grants and Medium-sized Investments programmes.

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news-3513 Thu, 24 Jan 2019 13:44:50 +0100 National Health Research Infrastructure brings Personalized Medicine closer https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/national-health-research-infrastructure-brings-personalized-medicine-closer/ The initiative for a national Health Research Infrastructure (Health-RI) is gaining momentum this year. ZonMw interviewed Explorer Leone Flikweert of Health-RI about the importance of Health-RI.

ZonMw interviewed Explorer ('kwartiermaker') Leone Flikweert of Health-RI about the importance of Health-RI, particularly for the Personalized Medicine program of ZonMw, KWF and Zilveren Kruis.

In 2019, the Health-RI organization will take concrete steps towards a national infrastructure for health data, images and samples, together with tools and facilities for optimal use. This is good news for researchers in the field of personalized medicine, for caregivers and for patients.

The sharing of data and materials is increasingly recognized as the norm and that is good news. Ultimately, we want to create a research data infrastructure that is sustainable and no longer dependent of project subsidies. "It is a bit like the environment: everyone agrees upon its importance, but it takes a while before everyone take pains to act and pay for it. Therefore, it is great that the ZonMw’s Personalized Medicine program already recognized the importance of Health-RI at an early stage and actively contributed to several important projects."

2019 kicks off with the Health-RI Conference on January 17th, with the theme Opening doors to P4 Health – prediction, prevention, personalization, and participation (P4). More and more people realize that data and samples of many patients and healthy citizens are needed to realize a learning care-system. This allows for scientific substantiation of prevention and tailored treatment.

"Participation is key – we hope that as many as possible research institutes and care organizations will participate, as well as patients and healthy citizens."

Making data, images and samples accessible for (other) researchers was already the focal point of several initiatives, such as the Data4LifeSciences program, BBMRI-NL, and the Parelsnoer Institute. However, health data are one of the most privacy sensitive data known. It is therefore important to think carefully and develop reliable solutions and the financial sector might serve as an example. For patients and health care providers the concept of the Personal Health Train can be of interest. The ELSI Servicedesk, installed in 2018 with the aid of ZonMw’s Personalised Medicine program, helps researchers who have questions about ethical, legal and societal aspects of personalized medicine & next generation sequencing. In the near future, Health-RI plans to set up similar service desks, e.g. for researchers with commonly occurring problems concerning software and data storage.

The Netherlands signed the MEGA declaration (Million European Genomes Alliance) in 2018 and Health-RI is glad that this international collaboration will start sequencing the genome of one million Europeans. The data will be made accessible for European research as to accelerate knowledge development and personalized health. Just as important is that genome data generation and storage, and the conditions of accessiblity of the data will be agreed upon within the MEGA collaboration. This enhances the exchangability of the data within Europe and sets the standard for mutual exchange.

For Health-RI, an important step in 2019 will be the dialogue that is now being set up – with researchers, data stewards, IT-professionals and others. Flikweert and her colleagues are preparing a ‘roadshow’ that will visit all medical knowledge institutes in the Netherlands. "What are the problems, what’s on the wishing list and what are priorities? This will be the input for our action plan so that we can jointly move forward on the way to Personalized Medicine. From thinking to doing, that’s our 2019 theme"

Tekst: Pieter van Megchelen
Photo: Rob ter Bekke

Read the ZonMw article here (in Dutch).

news-3348 Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:07:53 +0100 Presenting the international Programme Committee Microplastics & Health https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/presenting-the-international-programme-committee-microplastics-health/ ZonMw is pleased to present the international Programme Committee Microplastics & Health. The Committee will evaluate the 22 research proposals received in the recent call based on independent review reports and rebuttals from applicants. The general aim of the call is to gain insight into possible health threats and the biological mechanisms that might be involved when humans are exposed to small plastic particles via oral or inhalation routes. To achieve this, applicant research groups with different expertise joined forces and plan to collaborate in multidisciplinary, often international teams.

The committee

The Microplastics & Health call covers a new area of research and the call managed to attract most Dutch scientists with expertise in this area. This meant the Programme Committee had to be based on a majority of foreign experts. Of a total of nine members, only two are based in The Netherlands, the other members join from Norway, the UK, Belgium and Germany. Chairman of the committee is Professor Aalt Bast, dean of Campus Venlo (Maastricht University). The focus of the Committee is largely toxicology and partly environmental science including microbiology. All the members of the Committee including their expertise can be found here.

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Photo: Chesapeake Bay Program - Will Parson

news-3156 Fri, 26 Oct 2018 10:20:18 +0200 Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) strengthens research programme Microplastics & Health https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/ministry-of-infrastructure-and-water-management-iw-strengthens-research-programme-microplastics/ The Ministry of I&W is contributing financially to the recently started research programme Microplastics & Health. This programme was initiated by ZonMw, The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development in collaboration with the Topsector Water, Topsector Life Sciences & Health and the Gieskes-Strijbis Foundation. In this programme the best research projects investigating possible health effects of micro- en nanoplastics will receive funding. More and more is known about small plastic particles entering oceans, rivers, soil and air. The sources of these small plastic particles vary. Sources of small plastic particles are for example due to corrosion and weathering of plastic waste, due to adding microplastics to cosmetic products, or because of microfiber release during washing of synthetic clothes or even due to car tyre wear on the roads. The effects of small plastic particles on marine life are evident based on scientific research. Based on this research scientists are concerned about possible health effects in people if micro- and nanoplastics end up in our food, drinking water and air.

Breakthrough projects

The ZonMw research programme Microplastics & Health will increase the understanding of possible health effects by funding short-term breakthrough projects. This is a new area of research in which projects will study possible toxic effects on humans of small plastic particles at cellular or organ level. Some of the necessary expertise for this new research area is abroad, which is why international collaboration within the projects is stimulated.

The call for proposals recently closed, all proposals are now being evaluated. According to plan an international programme committee will decide early 2019 which projects should receive funding. With the additional funding from the Ministry of I&W four extra projects can be granted, bringing the maximum number of projects up to 14 in total. This contribution significantly increases the impact of the programme.

More information

Microplastics & Health programme

news-3112 Mon, 15 Oct 2018 14:39:28 +0200 NWO changes course for ERA-NETs and JPIs https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/nwo-changes-course-for-era-nets-and-jpis/ NWO will no longer use its own funds to enter into new financial obligations for joint calls via ERA-NETs and JPIs. The main reason for this is that NWO focusses on new forms of international collaboration in its new strategic plan (2019-2022). For example, via the principle of Money Follows Cooperation, NWO will remove the boundaries and facilitate bottom-up international collaboration in all the research it funds. NWO is holding talks with other funders about mutually implementing this principle. Of course, NWO will continue to collaborate with sister organisations in the relevant international networks of research funders. Furthermore, NWO can realise programmes in international contexts, such as those commissioned by government ministries. In the coming period, NWO will continue to use its own funds to participate in the various transnational calls in ERA-NETs and JPIs that it has already committed itself to with collaborative partners in the Netherlands and sister organisations.

ZonMw, however, will continue to fund ERA-NETs and JPIs. All four health-related JPIs and many of the ERA-NETs are realised by ZonMw with funding from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and sometimes in conjunction with other ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment or other parties such as the health funds. Therefore nothing will change for these JPIs and for (future) ERA-NETs with a link to subjects where ZonMw has a (commissioned) relationship with a government ministry.

If you have any questions, please contact:
Joyce Kuipers NWO
Jolien Wenink ZonMw

news-3095 Wed, 10 Oct 2018 11:34:44 +0200 Meetup with Dutch ERANID projects https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/meetup-with-dutch-eranid-projects/ On September 13th 5 Dutch ERANID partners came together to exchange knowledge and experiences on illicit drug research, to share preliminary results and to discuss how to increase societal impact of research findings. ERANID

European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs (ERANID) is an international consortium consisting of eleven organisations from six collaborating EU countries (Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom). The main goal of ERANID is to enhance capability and capacity in EU drug research by improving coordination, cooperation and synergies between national and regional funding programmes. ERANID commissioned the development of the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) that resulted in de development of two calls for research proposals in 2015 and 2016. These calls yielded 7 international research projects that are now well on their way. The Netherlands are involved in 6 of these research projects.   


Members of 5  ERANID research projects gathered on September 13th for a Dutch meeting on illicit drug research. During the first part of the meeting a member of each research project presented their research progress and preliminary results. Every presentation ended in a short discussion around two questions:

  1. What makes our research project valuable? 
  2. What do you want to ask other project members? 

In the afternoon the focus was on ‘the next step’, in other words, ‘how can impact of preliminary results and outcomes be increased and what is required to achieve this?’. Impact or valorisation is the process of using academic knowledge to create societal or commercial value . To reflect on the next step, all the attendees were divided into two groups to discuss the following questions per research project: 

  1. For which domains are the research findings relevant? 
  2. Which stakeholders are able to use the research findings?
  3. How do you involve these stakeholders?  


During the meeting ERANID partners learned about the progress and preliminary results of the other ERANID research projects, shared experiences about international research collaborations and linked their research networks. All presenters considered combining both quantitative and qualitative research methods as a strength and necessary to gain insight into a multifaceted problem like illicit drugs. Every research team experienced some challenges working with international partners. It was mentioned that extra time is needed to align research protocols and adjust them to the cultural context of the different partners. 

When discussing the next step, the following domains were mentioned as relevant for further implementation of research findings: policy, prevention, early detection, education and science. A few important stakeholders in these domains are: the Ministry of Health, professionals and educators. Involving relevant stakeholders can be accomplished by: informing stakeholder (via websites, flyers etc.), organising stakeholder meetings or inviting stakeholders to help interpret data or help write recommendations. Consequently, involving stakeholders in different phases of the research process helps to make academic knowledge relevant for both policy and practice and, as a result increases societal impact. 


  2. ALAMA-Nightlife
  3. ImagenPathways
  5. REC-Path
  6. ZonMw
news-3005 Mon, 17 Sep 2018 16:00:41 +0200 Join the BeyondRCT conference: towards co-operative citizen science in food and health https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/join-the-beyondrct-conference-towards-co-operative-citizen-science-in-food-and-health/ The second international conference BeyondRCT: towards Co-operative Citizen Science in Food and Health, will take place on 25 and 26 September 2018, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Why attend?

It is an important congress because it addresses the urge of citizens and patients for self-care and their need for personalized support for their situation. This self-care represents an untapped creative potential, that can be of great significance for knowledge development, product development and the empowerment of patients and citizens. Unlocking this potential also has a major impact on research methods, the use of digital resources and the design of matching data infrastructure and governance.

Core themes

The 3 core themes of the congress are: 1) data collection, data management and research by citizens in the health domain 2) new research methodology to extract wisdom from n-of-1 and to upgrade it to collectively applicable knowledge, products and advice 3) organizing a data infrastructure that allows data traffic between different sources, and that functions technically effectively and socially ethically. See for more information the conference website: www.BeyondRCT.net

For who

Academics, businesses and policymakers with foresight, that wish to anticipate the new data economy and data regulation, and that want to build on the benefits of innovative research engagements with patients, either in their role as co-researchers or as customers.


BeyondRCT brings an inspiring mix of keynotes, pitches and work sessions. Think of Prof. Jeroen Geurts (Chairman of the Board ZonMw, Dutch National Funding Agency for Health Research), Bastian Greshake Tzovaras (Open Humans Foundation, USA), Juuso Parkkinen (MyData.org / Nightingale Health, Finland), Rogier Koning (nobism.com), the MyOwnResearch consortium and many others. Chairman of the day is Maarten den Braber (NextHealth).


This conference does more than just putting on the table what is going on. Intended output is a multi-year work plan for Co-operative Citizen Science that helps both patients / citizens, research and industry to move forward. You can not only provide input for this, but you can also be part of it.

Therefore, if you are interested: register now!

For more information, please contact the organizers at g.remmers@mdog.nl

news-2890 Tue, 21 Aug 2018 14:05:53 +0200 Measles cases hit record high in the European Region http://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/press-releases/2018/measles-cases-hit-record-high-in-the-european-region Over 41.000 children and adults in the WHO European Region have been infected with measles in the first 6 months of 2018. The total number for this period far exceeds the 12-month totals reported for every other year this decade. The World Health Organization is now pressing for measures.  

news-2711 Thu, 05 Jul 2018 12:18:14 +0200 Call Microplastics & Health: research on health effects https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/call-microplastics-health-research-on-health-effects/ The call for proposals on Microplastics & Health is online! Research projects with a maximum duration of a year will be funded in this call concerning health effects of micro- and nanoplastics. Sources of micro- en nanoplastics

Plastic garbage is polluting oceans, rivers, soil and air globally. Large pieces of plastic disintegrate into smaller and smaller plastic particles eventually reaching micro or nano scale particles. Some microplastics are added to cosmetic products during production, after use of these microplastics end up in sewage water from which they are not yet fully filtered. Washing clothes that are made from synthetic materials further adds to microplastic in sewage water. A different type of microplastic particles originates from car tyre dust which occurs from abrasion on the road. The total result is a diverse mix of small plastic particles which are hardly degradable entering the environment.
These particles can enter the food chain from the bottom up, starting with for example filter feeders such as mussels and oysters, who absorb micro- en nanoplastics from the ocean.  People can also be exposed to microplastics by accidentally swallowing microplastic containing toothpaste or by breathing air that is polluted with micro- and nanoplastics.

Purpose of the call

The general aim of the call is to gain insight into possible interaction and effects of small plastic particles at cell- or organ level in people. Lab techniques including organ models with -among others- lung and intestines offer opportunities for this research, just as the micro versions of these models on chips.
An additional purpose of the call is to (further) develop innovative methods for measuring small plastic particles in human matrices. The idea is that the research projects in this call will achieve proof-of-concept within a year and offer insight into potential health risks for humans following exposure to micro- and nanoplastics through breathing or swallowing small plastic particles.

International project proposals

Micro- and nanoplastics occur globally. The area of research concerning possible health effects of small plastic particles on humans is only just starting to develop, international collaboration is essential to  accelerate the area of research quickly. Within the research projects international collaboration is stimulated with extra budget. In this call research proposals must focus on real small plastic particles as they are likely to occur in the environment. These particles are irregularly shaped, and highly variable in terms of size and chemical composition.


Do you have an idea for a research proposal aimed at health effects of micro- and nanoplastics and are you considering applying for a grant at ZonMw? The call for proposals offers more information on the aims and requirements for submitting a proposal.

Deadline of the call is September 20th, 2018!

news-2652 Tue, 26 Jun 2018 17:04:56 +0200 Internet consultation on Microplastics & Health call offers valuable insight https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/internet-consultation-on-microplastics-health-call-offers-valuable-insight/ In preparation of the Microplastic & Health call for research proposals the concept call text went on-line for feedback. It was an open invitation for any stakeholders to participate. The aim of the consultation was to improve the quality of the call in terms of relevance to knowledge gaps and a way in which to adjust the call to the current state of scientific knowledge. International responses

The responses to the internet consultation are under consideration and if possible will be incorporated in the final call text. Respondents were mainly researchers with a toxicology or (marine)ecology background. In addition to Dutch researchers, there were responses from Germany, Norway, Austria, America, Sweden and Monaco. There was clear consensus on various aspects of the concept call, as well as room for improvement on other aspects. The internet consultation was a valuable and easily accessible way to include international expertise in particular in the call text.

Knowledge gaps

All contributors agreed that research into microplastics and possible health effects is desperately needed. The general aim of the call is as should be. The knowledge gaps and sub-aims need to be more specific in some ways, and opened up in other ways. There are limited methods available to measure small plastic particles in human matrices. Investing in improved or new measurement techniques is essential. The short project duration of just one year further adds to the challenge. These projects most likely can just make a start to research a particular aspect of the many knowledge gaps identified. It would be of added value if the collective results of projects that are funded could be comparable in some way.

Plastic particles

One of the ways in which it might be possible to make projects more comparable is to create unity in plastic particles to be studied. There was quite some discussion over exactly which particles should be studied and what the particle definition should be for this call. Researchers indicated that projects need to investigate real particles from the environment. The difficulty is however that these environmental particles are irregularly shaped, show broad size distributions and a variety of surface properties, depending on their history (e.g. ageing, interaction with dissolved matter, biofilm formation). This wide variety in property characteristics of environmental particles makes this area of research extremely challenging, projects can be expected to be high-risk high-gain with longer term funding needed after proof of concept is achieved.

Final call

The final call will be published here on the ZonMw website.

news-2563 Wed, 06 Jun 2018 09:38:46 +0200 25,000 euros for winners Bio Art & Design Award 2018 https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/25000-euros-for-winners-bio-art-design-award-2018/ On Friday 25 May, bio artists Amanda Baum and Rose Leahy (duo), Yiyun Chen and Ani Liu were declared the winners of the Bio Art & Design Award 2018 (BAD Award). The jury chose these artists and designers from twelve teams of collaborating international artists, designers and scientists. With the prize money of 25,000 euros, the winners will spend the next year realising their bio art project. Each BAD Award project will be realised in close collaboration with a Dutch research institution. The participants could count on a large public for the presentations about their projects that were given in art centre Stroom Den Haag. The international jury, chaired by William Myers (writer and curator, United States), was impressed by the differences in content and approach of the teams. Myers: ‘The approaches to realise these projects were impressively diverse and ranged from sculpture and theatre to 3D printing and an entirely new visual language of icons. This points to highly meticulous and creative work from the participants and an effort to achieve originality.’ The golden thread throughout the presentations was formed by subjects such as defining humans, life in the sea, how artificial intelligence, humans and ecosystems will relate to each other in the future, and the relationship between technology and disease.

The English duo Amanda Baum and Rose Leahy investigate the past, present and future of life on earth from a microbial perspective. In response to the stories of the Anthropocene, Baum and Leahy will use the prize to elaborate the ‘microbiocene’ to show how alternative futures are constructed by weaving worlds with microbes. They will realise the project in collaboration with researchers from NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research). The Chinese Yiyun Chen will use the prize to design and construct a horizontal living studio where she will subsequently live and work for a month. With this ‘life in bed’, she will simulate our modern lifestyle at home and the 24-hour culture. She will do this in collaboration with the Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences NUTRIM at Maastricht University. With her work, Ani Liu from the United States will investigate how technological innovations enable people to redesign themselves. In collaboration with researchers from the Department of Radiology at the AMC Amsterdam, she will use the prize to make a series of artworks that show how technology influences us, with a focus on recognising the relationship between our body as matter and as data.

The winning works of art will be exhibited from late November 2018 at MU, centre for visual culture in Eindhoven.

The jury about the winners

See the attachment for the jury's laudations about the three winners of the BAD Award 2018 (English).

About the BAD Award

The BAD Award is an annual international competition. Its aim is to allow artists and designers who graduated no more than five years ago to experiment with bio art and design and to push back the boundaries of art and science. The BAD Award 2018 is an initiative of NWO, ZonMw, MU and BioArt Laboratories. The prize forms a stimulus for the rapidly growing group of young creatives who focus in their work on exploring the new possibilities offered by the life sciences. The members of the BAD Award 2018 jury were:

  • William Myers, curator and writer (United States/the Netherlands) chair of the jury
  • Manon Parry, assistant professor of Public History, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
  • Karen Verschooren, curator and head of Exhibitions at STUK Arts Centre Leuven (Belgium)
  • Isaac Monté, artist and former BAD Award winner (Belgium/the Netherlands)
  • Han Wösten, Professor of Microbiology, Educational Director Biology and Biosciences Utrecht University (the Netherlands)
  • Koert van Mensvoort, artist, philosopher, scientist and founder of Next Nature Network (the Netherlands)

More information:

Photo ©: Jenny van Bremen

news-2023 Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:36:59 +0100 60 Projects get access to DTL Technology Hotels https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/60-projects-get-access-to-dtl-technology-hotels/ In the Enabling Technologies Hotels (ETH) programme, life science researchers can apply for funding to get access to the high-end equipment and expertise of 130+ Technology Hotels that are listed on the DTL website. ZonMw has just announced which projects will be funded in the fourth call of the ETH programme.
  • View the list of 60 awarded projects
  • Find a Technology Hotel
  • Technology Hotels are expert groups that offer their high-end technologies and the associated expertise and infrastructure to researchers who do not have access to such facilities at their home institute. DTL’s searchable catalogue of Technology Hotels enables you to quickly locate an expert group. ZonMw and NWO have set up the ETH programme in collaboration with DTL to stimulate open access of Dutch research facilities. The programme contributes to the aims of the Topsectors Life Sciences & Health, Agri & Food, and Horticulture & Starting Materials. The latest (fourth) call closed on 29 August 2017.

    Fourth call

    The fourth call was open to public-private projects (PPP), i.e., collaborations between academic and industrial scientists. Projects in this category were asked to include the company as co-applicant. The main applicant was a scientist at a Dutch academic research organisation. It was also possible to submit an application without a company as co-applicant in so-called ‘early career scientist projects’ (ECS). Here, the main applicant had to be a scientist at a Dutch academic research organisation who obtained a PhD in the period 2009-present. It was not necessary to involve a company as co-applicant in these project proposals.

    60 projects

    ZonMw received a total of 164 project proposals, 87 of which were ECS projects and 77 were PPP projects. In each category, 30 projects were awarded (i.e., the success rate was 36% for ECS and 39% for PPP). The funded projects will run for a one-year period and they will receive a maximum of EUR 30,000 funding. The ETH programme is active in several technology areas: bioinformatics & computational biology, genomics, proteomics & structural biology, metabolomics, and bio-imaging & phenotyping. The charts show the distribution of awarded projects over these areas.

    More information

    Previous news items about the 2017 ETH call:


    news-1637 Tue, 14 Nov 2017 08:17:00 +0100 Providing hope for addicts and their relatives https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/providing-hope-for-addicts-and-their-relatives/ Project leader David Best of Sheffield Hallam University hopes that investigating different kinds of recovery pathways in four countries will show that addicts can have a healthy future.
    A large ERANID grant for the project 'Recovery pathways and societal responses in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium (REC-Path)' will enable Best to work with researchers in 4 countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Scotland and England) to identify different successful recovery pathways. ‘In lots of West European countries the focus is on a clinical model’, he says, ‘professional therapy helping people fight their addiction. In the United Kingdom and the United States, on the other hand, self-help is more common. We are going to look at which groups of people benefit most from which types of support.’

    Cold turkey

    The study will distinguish between 5 different pathways. The first is what Best calls ‘natural recovery’. This is when people do it entirely on their own. ‘Just like people sometimes quit smoking,’ he explains. ‘They wake up one morning and decide that’s that. They just stop. Cold turkey. These are usually people who have good resources. They still have a job, friends and a home.’ Though only a small group of people succeed in this way, they do include heroin and cocaine users.


    The second pathway consists of a whole range of different professional therapeutic treatments. They will all be part of a single group in this study. Best will also investigate three types of peer-based recovery model, in an attempt to show that so much more can – and must – be done besides the professional, more clinical approach. ‘Lasting recovery requires ongoing support in the community,’ he says. ‘That makes peer-based support so important.’


    One of the three peer-based models is the ‘12 steps fellowships’. This is in fact a model based on the Alcoholics Anonymous method. ‘They apply the philosophy that addiction is a lifelong illness. Once an addict, always an addict. The main goal is to try and get control of your addiction.’ The second peer-based model is ‘therapeutic communities’, a form of residential care ideally overseen by fellow addicts in residential communities. They regard addiction not as an illness but more as a symptom of a messed-up life. Housed in country residences, they try to teach addicts and former addicts to live in a new and better way.

    Journey to recovery

    The final pathway consists of a mix of all other types of professionally provided services. ‘These are groups that do not work on the basis of a particular philosophy’, says Best, ‘but provide a range of pharmacological and psychological therapies to support and elicit change.’ The big question for Best and his fellow researchers will be which groups of addicts use which recovery model at which stage of their recovery. ‘What does their journey look like? Do they use different pathways? How? When? Who chooses what? And of course: how successful are they?’


    The researchers will follow 250 recovering addicts in each country, half of them men and half women. They will also distinguish between people who began their recovery journeys less than a year ago, people who kicked the habit between 1 and 5 years ago, and those who have been clean for more than 5 years. The study will involve former users of all kinds of illicit drugs. And of course they will identify differences between countries, taking account of different policies. As Best himself admits, ‘Yeah, I know, it’s quite a complex research design. That’s why a programme like ERANID is so important. Otherwise we could never undertaken such a complex yet crucial set of research questions.’

    Focus on success

    Best underlines the fact that the study will focus mainly on successful forms of recovery. ‘Our focus is on success. We assume a 'strength-based recovery model' in which all kinds of professional therapy and peer-based models support each other. Quitting in itself is not enough. It is possible to overcome an addiction but it needs sustaining support from society. Permanent recovery also depends on employment, housing, friendships, quality of life.’ His hope is that the study will give policymakers something they can use to really help addicts and their family and friends.


    The European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs (ERANID) aims to improve cooperation in drug research in order to allow well-founded policy decisions, prevention and harm reduction interventions. Several scientific disciplines and various European countries work together in this network. ZonMw is one of the partners in the cooperation on behalf of the Netherlands and is coordinator of ERANID.

    More information

    news-1573 Mon, 18 Sep 2017 09:23:59 +0200 Sneak preview Enabling Technologies Hotels Call response https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/sneak-preview-enabling-technologies-hotels-call-response/ The latest Enabling Technologies Hotels Call closed on 29 August 2017. Dr Sander Hougee, Programme Officer Life Sciences and Health at ZonMw, gives a sneak preview of the response to the call. Technology Hotels are expert groups that offer their high-end technologies and the associated expertise and infrastructure to researchers who do not have access to such facilities at their home institute. Life scientists can obtain funding to perform a research project at a Technology Hotel through the ZonMw/NWO Enabling Technologies Hotels (ETH) programme. The latest call of the programme closed on 29 August.

    164 proposals

    Hougee: “We received 164 project proposals, which is more than three times as many as in the previous call. This rise in enthusiasm is probably partly due to the fact that the budget of the 2017 programme was twice the size of the previous call. We are quite happy with this result. We will award approximately sixty projects with a maximum of EUR 30k each. Each proposal will be evaluated by two reviewers. The entire review committee consists of 27 Dutch scientists. We expect to be able to announce the list of awarded projects mid-December 2017.”

    Early career scientists

    The 2017 call was the first to welcome applications of projects outside a public-private partnership. Hougee: “This has been a longstanding wish of the programme committee. We also heard this wish in the evaluation of the programme that we performed amongst applicants in 2016. So, in the 2017 call, as a pilot, it was possible to submit an application without a company as co-applicant in so-called ‘early career scientist projects’. Here, the main applicant had to be a scientist at a Dutch academic research organisation who obtained a PhDin the period 2009-present. It was not necessary to involve a company as co-applicant in these project proposals. With these eligibility criteria, the call meets the wish of the programme committee and contributes to the top sector Human Capital Agendas to provide career and development opportunities for scientists. We received 87 of these early career scientist applications, so this extension of the programme has been received with great enthusiasm.”

    The 2017 call was also open to public-private projects, i.e., collaborations between academic and industrial scientists. Projects in this category were asked to include the company as co-applicant. The main applicant was a scientist at a Dutch academic research organisation. Hougee: “We received 77 of these applications.”

    Hotel catalogue

    DTL’s searchable catalogue of Technology Hotels enables you to quickly locate the expert group that you need for your research. Merlijn van Rijswijk, Technologies Programme Manager at DTL: “Several new expert groups have registered themselves as Technology Hotels in the past few months. In addition, the DTL core team has performed a quality check of the information on the Technology Hotel pages. As a result, the DTL website now contains detailed and up-to-date information about 130+ Technology Hotels. We are very pleased with the changes that have been made in this call, i.e., that the programme is now open to academic collaborations and that companies can also act as Hotels.”

    Meanwhile, ZonMw and NWO are looking into the future. “It is too early to comment on the details now, but we are discussing the possibility to have a follow-up of Enabling Technologies Hotels in 2018 or 2019,” says Hougee.

    More information

    ZonMw and NWO have set up the ETH programme in collaboration with DTL to stimulate open access of Dutch research facilities. The programme contributes to the aims of the Topsectors Life Sciences & Health, Agri & Food, and Horticulture & Starting Materials.

    news-1500 Tue, 22 Aug 2017 10:25:14 +0200 Successful implementation: learning from international approaches https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/successful-implementation-learning-from-international-approaches/ Health research funders can stimulate implementation of research results, without taking over responsibility. They award grants for implementation projects, stimulate cooperation between research and practice, and disseminate results to practice and patients through understandable products. During a workshop, held during the Ensuring Value in Research (EViR) collaborative forum meeting, ZonMw (Netherlands), NiHR (UK), and PCORI (USA) shared their dissemination approaches. The discussion yielded several points for successful implementation:

    • Integrated long term approach
    • Learning from experiences
    • Strengthening existing channels, networks, and other structures
    • Demonstrating impact

    Read the complete digital publication here

    news-1493 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:10:19 +0200 The impact of drug policy on society https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/the-impact-of-drug-policy-on-society/ Every country in Europe has its own drug policy. The ERANID project ‘Illicit Drug Policies and Social Outcome’ (IDSPO) will study the societal impact of policy, not in order to compare countries, but to show policymakers the potential impact of the choices they make. IDPSO stands for ‘Illicit Drug Policies and Social Outcome’.  

    Rules on illegal drugs generally concern their production, distribution and use. But something that is banned in one country may be allowed in another. ‘There is no right model,’ says principal investigator Ricardo Goncalves of Católica Porto Business School (Portugal). ‘But we aim to understand the impact of different policies. A law may have a positive influence in some areas, but can have a negative impact on other social indicators.’ By cataloguing and analysing policy, implementation and impact in 7 countries, Goncalves hopes to show policymakers what their choices can lead to.

    Cross-country analysis

    ERANID provides the perfect opportunity for anyone wanting to investigate different policies, which after all means one has to look at several countries, all pursuing their own policies. 4 ERANID partners are actively involved in the study: Portugal, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The situation in the UK, Canada and Australia will also be studied. ‘It’s a cross-country analysis made possible by ERANID,’ says Goncalves. ‘We’re very pleased to have an international consortium with high-profile experts from each country.’ The idea is certainly not to compare countries, it is more a matter of identifying the individual consequences of each policy choice.

    Collecting data

    First, national drug policy in the 7 countries will be explored using a new technique known as Leximetrics. What is each country’s drug legislation like? What is allowed and what is banned? How stringent is sentencing? And what are addiction care services like? What facilities are available? Who funds them? The exact questions will be determined as part of the project, but they will certainly be considered in retrospect, over a period of 20 years. This method should produce a large set of quantitative data that will provide the basis for later analysis.

    Perception and reality

    It is not only a matter of legislation and rules, however. How policy is implemented and how those involved regard it is at least equally important. ‘The law is only theory,’ says Goncalves. ‘If the use of a drug is illegal, but the police never arrest a user, then we have to take that into account. The way a law is enforced is as important as the law itself.’ It is also a matter of how people perceive the law as being implemented. ‘It’s a mixture of perception and reality,’ Goncalves explains. The project will explore this using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods.


    A subsequent phase will investigate the outcomes of the policy pursued in each country, using a set of drug-related social indicators. It is not yet known what these will be, but they will include factors related to the legal system and the use of addictive substances. In other words, the focus will be on the number of convictions, or cases, and also on how easily available drugs are, the spread of HIV and hepatitis among addicts, the number of people in treatment for addiction etc.

    Data processing

    Once these data have been gathered, the ‘real work’ will begin: combining and analysing all the data – a huge job. Goncalves also plans to include data on social, cultural and economic factors in the seven countries in his analysis. ‘Many parts of this study have been done in the past. Never before have we combined all these data in one cross-country study. Yes, it will be a lot of work, but in both social and economic science we have techniques that make this kind of analysis possible. I’m convinced we will be able to find strong relationships between policy and social outcome. But don’t ask me now how we’re going to do that. That will be part of the research over the coming years and will also depend on the work done during the process.’


    The European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs (ERANID) aims to improve cooperation in drug research in order to allow well-founded policy decisions, prevention and harm reduction interventions. Several scientific disciplines and various European countries work together in this network. ZonMw is one of the partners in the cooperation on behalf of the Netherlands and is coordinator of ERANID.

    More information

    • More information about the IDPSO project is available on the ERANID website  
    • To stay informed about ERANID news, joint calls, events and interviews, please subscribe to the ERANID newsletter
    news-1340 Tue, 04 Jul 2017 14:12:22 +0200 Research from perspective of addicts https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/research-from-perspective-of-addicts/ The ERANID-funded project D.U.R.E.S.S. focuses on the experience of people suffering from addiction during recovery and reintegration. Or, in the words of Giuseppe Carrà of Italy, ‘it’s about their personal subjective perspective’.
    D.U.R.E.S.S. stands for Drug Use Recovery Environment and Social Subjectivity. The aim is to establish whether certain individual, rather than contextual factors play a role in successful rehabilitation and reintegration. Three countries – Italy, France and Portugal – are participating in the study. According to Professor Carrà, of the University of Milano-Bicocca, the unique thing about this study is the use of original and mostly unexplored sources.


    One such source is health diaries kept by subjects with addiction while in treatment. Clients from the three countries in the study will keep a daily diary for six months, in which they will describe their personal experiences before, during and after treatment. ‘We want to learn from their subjective experiences’, Carrà explains. ‘How is treatment working for them? How is their mood? How do they feel?’ The original thing about this is that the researchers will use qualitative research data, while addiction research is generally based on quantitative data. ‘It’s a radically different view,’ says Carrà. ‘These personal diaries will provide the basis for data collection in our study. They will of course be analysed and we will conduct additional interviews with some of our diarists.’

    Focus groups

    The next step will then be to organise focus groups with eight or nine members, all of them former or current drug users, based on the analysis of the diaries. These meetings will again focus on personal experiences, with researchers discussing with participants the main themes that emerge from their journals. ‘For these groups we will use trained and experienced research moderators,’ says Carrà. ‘It’s extremely important to ensure confidentiality and comfortable, quiet and private surroundings free from distractions.’

    Societal actors

    Another source of information is people who have a lot of contact with clients during the project. ‘These societal actors can be relatives, members of services staffs or NGO volunteers’, explains Carrà. In-depth interviews will be conducted with these individuals to establish their experiences of the period when clients are in rehabilitation. What did they think of the treatment? How did they think the clients responded? ‘Of course we will compare these statements with the subjective experiences of the clients. Is there a gap? Do they think or interpreted differently?’ says Carrà. ‘For example, we want to know if the clients did get what they felt they needed. And if not, why not.’

    Quantitative data

    All these qualitative data will of course be linked to quantitative data about local contextual factors. ‘Social circumstances differ,’ says Carrà. ‘There may be social environmental factors involved. For example the area where people live. Is it a deprived area or an affluent area? Does this influence the subjective experiences during treatment?’ Finally, the study will also look at differences between the three participating countries. ‘We will try to understand how different cultures, national environments and countries' specific policy settings interact with recovery and socioeconomic reintegration.’

    Data analysis

    Analysing all the data will be a huge task, which will be tackled on an interdisciplinary basis by scientists with expertise in qualitative addiction research working with clinical and mental health researchers. Ultimately, the question is how the integration of socioenvironmental aspects into therapeutic processes can improve recovery outcomes and the reintegration of former drug users. For example, what is the role of social capital, of family, community, informal care, work and housing, self-regulation or self-stigma?


    Carrà says that in the end it is all about evidence-based treatment. ‘Of course we hope to find ways to improve or reshape existing therapeutic services. Client experiences will give clues for more human and more effective treatment.’ He is also very pleased with the research team. ‘We are lucky to be working with so many distinguished members of the international research community, in particular Tim Greacen from France, Marta Pinto from Portugal and Giovanni Viganò from Italy. The scientific quality of our research partners is extremely high. We can learn from the differences between our countries. In the end, this research programme will help both the EU bodies and single member states understand how to improve the effectiveness of treatment.’


    The European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs (ERANID) aims to improve cooperation in drug research in order to allow well-founded policy decisions, prevention and harm reduction interventions. Several scientific disciplines and various European countries work together in this network. ZonMw is one of the partners in the cooperation on behalf of the Netherlands and is coordinator of ERANID.

    More information

    • More information about the D.U.R.E.S.S. project is available on the ERANID website
    • To stay informed about ERANID news, joint calls, events and interviews, please subscribe to the ERANID newsletter

    news-1303 Mon, 26 Jun 2017 14:28:52 +0200 Luxembourg and the Netherlands tighten their research collaboration https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/luxembourg-and-the-netherlands-tighten-their-research-collaboration/ On 27 June, the Dutch Ambassador to Luxembourg Peter Kok invited representatives of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) and the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), as well as high-calibre researchers in Luxembourg to a joint information workshop. This meeting followed the signature, back in March, of a Statement of Intent between the national agencies that aims to strengthen the research collaborations between the two countries. NWO member of the Executive Board and responsible for international affairs Wim van den Doel, and FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz both emphasised the importance to tighten their collaboration by recognising that the very best research in both countries may be delivered by collaborating with the best researchers internationally.  

    Strong examples of already existing good partnerships were also presented by Luxembourg-based researchers. University of Luxemburg (LCSB) researcher and FNR PEARL Chair Rejko Krüger detailed his collaboration in the domain of Parkinson with the Dutch ParkinsonNet coordination centre at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. Roman Kräussl, professor of finance at the Luxembourg School of Finance, delineated his experience as a researcher and professor in both countries. And finally, Dr Laurent Pfister, a researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, presented his collaboration in the domain of hydrology with the University of Wageningen.

    The Statement of Intent that was signed on 24 March, aims to further tighten the links between the Netherlands and Luxembourg and to support new bilateral research projects - in all the research fields covered by the agencies - between researchers based in the two countries. Under this agreement, the Dutch funding agency will always serve as lead agency, and the selection process as a whole remains the responsibility of NWO and ZonMW.  The FNR,  NWO and ZonMW are currently working on guidance to applicants, including on issues such as Open Access Publication and Intellectual Property. Partners in the Netherlands will be funded by NWO or ZonMW, while the FNR will support Luxembourg partners.

    The agreement with the Dutch NWO and ZonMw brings to twelve the number of countries, with which the FNR has bilateral agreements.  

    More information:

    news-1106 Mon, 15 May 2017 13:30:00 +0200 High sensitivity as a vulnerability factor in substance abuse https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/high-sensitivity-as-a-vulnerability-factor-in-substance-abuse/ Individuals who are highly sensitive to environmental stimuli – highly sensitive people – appear to be more susceptible to substance use than others. Nevertheless, there has been very little scientific research on the relationship between high sensitivity and the use of addictive substances. The ERANID STANDUP project should change all that, however.
    Project leader Dr. Judith Homberg of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, says that people with a high Sensory Processing Sensitivity score – i.e. people who are highly sensitive – also experience above-average problems with stress. ‘This is not surprising,’ Dr. Homberg explains. ‘These people notice all kinds of subtleties around them, respond to them and process this information at a deeper level in their brains.’ If the brain receives too many (negative) stimuli, it can no longer process them, and that produces stress. Approximately 20% of adults are highly sensitive.


    Homberg explains that it is precisely this stress factor that makes them more susceptible to addictive substances. ‘Drugs are an escape, a way of coping with all the stuff going on in their heads. Just think of performers and artists. Highly sensitive people are often exceptionally creative, and in those circles you also see excessive use of addictive substances.’ A relationship between high sensitivity and substance use has never really been scientifically proven, though there is a range of evidence that point to such a connection.

    Specific help

    Homberg finds it surprising that no extensive scientific study has examined this link. ‘In that respect this research could probably be called groundbreaking. This will be the first in-depth study on this topic. It could be that among users there are more than the average 20% highly sensitive people. What’s more, highly sensitive people have very specific characteristics. This means we might need to help them fight their addiction in a completely unique way.’

    International expertise

    The study will be performed in collaboration with teams in Italy, Switzerland and France. Homberg is very pleased with this joint approach. ‘I can now work with leading international scientists. By collaborating we can share knowledge and facilities, complement each other’s efforts. Furthermore, the results of the study will be made widely available in Europe, so they will not only benefit the Netherlands, but also other countries.’


    Switzerland and France have large ‘cohorts’: groups of addictive substance users who take part in scientific studies. ‘There are no such cohorts in the Netherlands, so that in itself is a benefit’, says Homberg. Thanks to the ERANID project, new questions on high sensitivity personality will be incorporated into research. This should make it clear whether and to what extent high sensitivity personality is indeed a factor in substance use.


    Homberg is working on an animal model using rats. It has been found that animals, too, can be highly sensitive, which widens the potential for research. However, this will require a good research model that allows highly sensitive rats to be reliably distinguished from ‘ordinary’ rats. This means rats have to be screened on the basis of certain behavioural criteria.

    Brain function

    Italy will study blood and brain samples – blood samples from people and brain samples from animals. In this part of the study, Homberg’s Italian counterparts will look for specific biomarkers that can be linked to changes in drug use under the influence of environmental stimuli in highly sensitive people and animals. ‘What we already know is that in highly sensitive rats nerve cells in the brain that respond to external stimuli are less inhibited than in rats with low sensitivity, which causes them to “fire” more often than average’, Homberg explains. ‘It would be fantastic if we could use biomarkers to draw parallels between changes in behaviour and brain function.’

    Positive stimuli

    Eventually, Homberg hopes all the research will lead to a therapy for highly sensitive people who use substances. ‘The good thing about high sensitivity personality is that it is not only associated with sensitivity to negative stimuli, but also to positive ones. Think of things like romantic relationships, having children or finding a new job – so the good things in life.’ The researchers will explore whether exposure to such environmental stimuli, and which ones precisely, leads to a reduction in drug use in highly sensitive people. In order to develop a therapy that ensures that more attention is focused on positive stimuli Homberg is working with various stakeholders, both psychologists and people who have personal experience with the issue.


    Judith Homberg hopes that the ERANID study will help reduce the stigma of addiction. Many people equate addiction with weakness. ‘But if addiction and high sensitivity personality are linked,’ she says. ‘Then for some people addiction would be a side-effect of other, positive qualities.’ Addiction as the flipside of creativity, in other words.


    The European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs (ERANID) aims to improve cooperation in drug research in order to allow well-founded policy decisions, prevention and harm reduction interventions. Several scientific disciplines and various European countries work together in this network. ZonMw is one of the partners in the cooperation on behalf of the Netherlands and is coordinator of ERANID.

    More information

    • More information about the STANDUP project is available on the ERANID website
    • To stay informed about ERANID news, joint calls, events and interviews, please subscribe to our newsletter.
    news-1049 Fri, 07 Apr 2017 10:00:58 +0200 Dutch plan of action for new knowledge of Lyme disease https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/dutch-plan-of-action-for-new-knowledge-of-lyme-disease/ ZonMw launched an action plan for new knowledge of Lyme disease in research, practice and policy in March 2016. Representatives of patients, researchers, professional practitioners, policymakers and companies were involved in compiling the document. Knowledge and research infrastructure

    Implementation of the action plan should ultimately improve both the practice of and policy on diagnosing, treating and preventing Lyme disease. It will also help create a good knowledge and research infrastructure.

    Ministry’s commission

    The Ministry of Health commissioned ZonMw to draft a research agenda in 2014. The action plan is in fact broader than stipulated in the Ministry’s commission, encompassing both research topics and other activities. Those topics and activities are regarded as necessary to bring about the desired improvements. The action plan covers four main subjects: basic knowledge, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. The participants have prioritised research topics for each of the main subjects.

    Research and other activities

    The plan contains ambitious targets for both rapid application of new tests and treatment methods and enhancement of basic knowledge over the next five to ten years. Examples of other essential activities are the establishment of a register and biobank to allow patients to be monitored for a longer period; a procedure for updating knowledge for physicians; a guideline/decision model for diagnosis and treatment; and a decision aid for patients.


    The Lyme disease action plan sets out a list of the actions (research and other activities) identified and discussed by people from various disciplines and with various perspectives including Lyme patient advocacy groups. A number of sessions was held between late 2014 and early 2016. ZonMw selected the participants on the basis of their knowledge and experience (professional or otherwise) and asked them to take part in a private capacity. Though their knowledge and experience are related to the organisation where they work, the researchers, professional policymakers and practitioners did not formally represent their organisation in this process.


    Extra efforts are required to implement this plan. The document is available free of charge to research institutes and other organisations that are willing to help reduce the problems associated with Lyme disease. They are invited to align their research with this priority list.

    Further information


    news-905 Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Adding value to research https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/adding-value-to-research/ Eight projects will receive funding to study responsible research practices. Despite a plethora of theories and opinions, remarkably little scholarly investigation has focused on what makes a “good” scientific research system. These 8 projects will provide subjective practicable knowledge about what actually works and will contribute to rejuvenate the entire system of scientific research.

    The projects

    • Prof. dr. W.J.M.J. Cuijpers (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) will study researcher allegiance, the conviction held by a researcher that a specific treatment is superior to other treatments, in research on psychosocial interventions. Researcher allegiance is one of the biggest problems, because it leads to overestimation of the effects of a treatment. Cuijpers will examine in detail what research allegiance is, how it works and how to reduce the impact on the outcomes of trials on psychological interventions.
    • Dr. S. de Rijcke (Universiteit Leiden) aims to describe the optimal profile of researchers in terms of their propensity to foster responsible conduct in research. This profile will be compared with existing academic incentive and reward systems. The outcome will be a set of concrete policy recommendations for designing (or adapting) an academic reward systems aimed at fostering excellent, socially responsible research.
    • Dr. M.K. Schmidt (Nederlands Kanker Instituut): The principles for ethical, legal, and social acceptable use of residual biosamples, and guidelines following these principles have been captured in a Dutch code of conduct. However, implementation of these principles and guidelines in Dutch hospitals is slow. This research project is therefore aimed at identifying the necessary steps to bridge the gap between these principles and guidelines and their implementation in (clinical) practice. An ‘implementation toolbox’ will be developed to execute the code properly.
    • Prof. dr. M.W. van Tulder (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam): Null-hypothesis significance testing is unsuitable as the default procedure to draw conclusions from empirical data. Nevertheless, this test is often used for this kind of research. As a result researchers draw erroneous conclusions from their data. Alternative statistic methods have been developed to overcome this pitfall, however, researchers do not use these alternative methods for the analysis of empirical data. Why this is the case and which factors are involved will be studied in this project. Based on the results strategies will be developed to implement the use of alternative methods for drawing conclusions from empirical data.
    • Prof. dr. N.S. Klazinga (Academisch Medisch Centrum) explores the prevalence, nature and causes of questionable research practices within Health Services research. He will examine this in the phase where conclusions are derived from findings and disseminated scientific and societal publication.  This will lead to recommendations and tools to improve current practice.
    • Prof. dr. H.J. Paul (Universiteit Leiden) examines causal relations between Competitive Research Funding and Questionable Research Practices. He will develop a model specifying the mechanisms through which Competitive Research Funding contributes to Questionable Research Practices.
    • Dr. mr. C.H. Vinkers (Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht): Clinical trials have systematic methodological flaws, statistical problems, and their results may be biased, exaggerated, and difficult to reproduce. This is highly problematic since clinical trials constitute the backbone of evidence-based medicine. Vinkers aims to identify possible predictors of Questionable Research Practices in clinical trials.
    • Dr. W. Halffman (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) will assess the effectiveness of measures used by scientific journals to improve peer review’s ability to detect misconduct and error.

    More information


    news-726 Tue, 10 Jan 2017 17:52:00 +0100 Call for proposals: Ageing and place in a digitising world https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/call-for-proposals-ageing-and-place-in-a-digitising-world/ The 3rd JPI MYBL call for research proposals, entitled 'Ageing and place in a digitising world', is online. The deadline for submitting proposals is April 3rd, 2017 - 17.00 CET. This call for proposals is concerned with the ways in which the health and wellbeing of older people, at all stages of later life, is supported and promoted through the design of the social and physical environment, access to opportunities to learn, and the use of technologies of all kinds. The objective is seeking for innovative, transnational and interdisciplinary collaborative projects that investigate the potential of technology, place and learning in relation with the older.

    More information

    news-401 Tue, 06 Dec 2016 14:00:00 +0100 International collaboration: addressing societal challenges efficiently and effectively https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/international-collaboration-addressing-societal-challenges-efficiently-and-effectively/ In Europe, as well as globally, we face a number of societal challenges that no country or region can tackle alone. Addressing these so-called Grand Societal Challenges efficiently and effectively requires combined efforts and new ways of collaboration between countries. In this context, the European Commission introduced Joint Programming (JP) to the European Parliament and the Council of European Union in 2008. It is one of the priorities for implementing the European Research Area (ERA). JP is an intergovernmental process enabling European Member States and associated and third countries to participate in those joint research programming activities that are strategically important and offer synergies. The objective is to better align the 85 per cent of research and innovation investments spent at national level.

    10 Joint Programming Initiatives

    Today, there are 10 Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) with the aim to tackle Grand Societal Challenges. In a new brochure they explain the benefits of participating in a Joint Programming Initiative. In addition to the general introduction to Joint Programming all JPIs developed a factsheet with an overview of member countries, objectives and key achievements. The brochure and the factsheets were presented at the Annual Joint Programming Conference on 22-23 November 2016 in Brussels.

    The role of ZonMw

    ZonMw is involved in 4 JPIs:

    • Joint Programming Initiative Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND)
    • Joint Programming Initiative More Years Better Lives (JPI MYBL)
    • Joint Programming Initiative Healthy Diet Healthy Life (JPI HDHL)
    • Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR)

    More information

    news-390 Fri, 02 Dec 2016 10:04:33 +0100 Start Up Access to finance https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/start-up-access-to-finance/ Start-ups and scale-ups need capital. The EU is working on making access to finance easier for businesses though loan guarantees, business loans, microfinance and venture capital. To boost investment opportunities from venture capital and make funding more accessible to small and innovative enterprises, the Commission is launching a pan-European Venture Capital Fund-of-Funds. The VC Fund-of-Funds will complement other flagship Commission initiatives such as InvestEU and the Capital Markets Union, as well as various EU funding programmes.

    news-340 Mon, 28 Nov 2016 12:04:30 +0100 Increase in excise taxes on alcohol can yield 14 to 20 billion euros in societal benefits https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/increase-in-excise-taxes-on-alcohol-can-yield-14-to-20-billion-euros-in-societal-benefits/ An increase in excise taxes of 50 per cent over a period of fifty years will result in societal benefits of 14 to 20 billion euro in the Netherlands. Improvement of work productivity, prevention of premature deaths, fewer traffic accidents, less police and justice costs and less school drop-outs are examples of the positive effects if alcohol consumption would be reduced. These are the findings of research conducted by RIVM. The Social Cost-Benefit approach (SCBA) was used to analyse regulatory policies to reduce alcohol use and express benefits in monetary terms. Research was conducted in to the social cost-benefits of three policy measures such as a further increase of excise taxes, a reduction of the number of points of sale and a total ban of advertisements. Societal benefits are greatest if excise taxes are increased, followed by the reduction of the number of points of sale with 25 per cent. An advertisements ban and reduction of points of sale with 10 per cent are likely to have a smaller effect. These societal benefits could lower the net costs of health care.

    Alcohol costs and benefits

    In 2013 the net costs of alcohol were 2,3 to 2,9 billion euro. Examples of these costs are premature deaths, less productivity at work, reduced quality of life due to alcohol related diseases, costs of police and justice deployment, traffic accidents and health care costs. Alcohol also has benefits, from the perspective of consumers whom may experience a feeling of wellbeing from drinking alcohol. Other benefits are profits for producers, horeca and retail and tax income for government. In total the costs of alcohol in 2013 amount to approximately 8 million euro and societal benefits approximately 5.5 million euro.

    Excise taxes

    In the long run, over a period of 50 years, an increase in excise taxes of 50 per cent will result in societal benefits of 14 to 20 billion euro, an increase of excise taxes of 200 per cent will result in societal benefits of 37 to 47 billion euro.

    Reduction points of sale

    The societal benefits of closure of 10 per cent of points of sale are estimated at 3 to 5 billion euro after 50 years, and at 8 to 12 billion euro when 25 per cent of points of sale would be closed.

    Advertisements ban

    The societal benefits of a media ban would amount to 7 billion euro after 50 years, but there is more uncertainty about this result as proof that a ban on alcohol effectively lowers the consumption of alcohol is not as strong as the evidence of the effectiveness of the two other policies.


    Social cost-benefit analysis of regulatory policies to reduce alcohol use in The Netherlands

    The study was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) and was commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). Research was conducted in close cooperation with Trimbos Institute, Ecorys and Maastricht University.

    news-323 Thu, 24 Nov 2016 13:46:13 +0100 The New York Stem Cell Foundation has released its 2017 Investigator RFAs https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/the-new-york-stem-cell-foundation-has-released-its-2017-investigator-rfas/
    1. The Innovator Awards for Early Career Investigators in Translational Stem Cell Research support innovative scientists whose research has the potential to transform the field of stem cell research and to advance the use of stem cells for the treatment of human disease. For more information, to download the RFA, and to apply, please visit www.nyscf.org/stemcell.
    2. The Innovator Awards for Early Career Investigators in Neuroscience support the best young researchers working in fundamental areas of developmental, cellular, cognitive and behavioral, and translational neuroscience, broadly interpreted. Proposals need not be related to stem cells. For more information, to download the RFA, and to apply, please visit www.nyscf.org/neuro.

    Both awards provide $1.5M USD (payable over 5 years) to outstanding young researchers from accredited non-profit research and academic institutions through the world (subject to eligibility). The RFAs will close on February 22, 2017 at 5:00pm Eastern.

    news-341 Wed, 16 Nov 2016 13:35:00 +0100 ZonMw Award for Evert Verhagen 'Strenghten your ankle' project https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/zonmw-award-for-evert-verhagen-strenghten-your-ankle-project/ November 3rd, Dr. Evert Verhagen (APH researcher at the VUmc Department of Public and Occupational Health) received the ZonMw Award for the 'Versterk je enkel' project at the Sport injuries prevention symposium (symposium Sportblessurepreventie) in Amsterdam. November 3rd, Dr. Evert Verhagen (APH researcher at the VUmc Department of Public and Occupational Health) received the ZonMw Award for the 'Versterk je enkel' project at the Sport injuries prevention symposium (symposium Sportblessurepreventie) in Amsterdam.

    Lateral ankle ligament injury (an injury to the outer bands) is one of the most common sports injuries in the Netherlands and the risk of repeated injury is high. The 'Strengthen your ankle' project focuses on the prevention of ankle injuries by developing a tool that helps to increase therapy compliance. The project team supervised by Verhagen developed a folding map and a mobile app that described the exercises guided by videos.
    The study results showed that both tools increases the therapy compliance. The strategy for further implementation with relevant stakeholders is ready, and will start when the long term results of the tools are available.

    The ZonMw Award is awarded to inspiring and remarkable ZonMw projects which are in line with the current healthcare developments, have eye-catching results and involve cooperation with different parties. 

    news-369 Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:59:00 +0200 Pre-announcement call for proposals Active and Assisted Living https://www.zonmw.nl/en/news-and-funding/news/detail/item/pre-announcement-call-for-proposals-active-and-assisted-living/ In February 2017 the new call for proposals of the Active and Assisted Living Joint Programme (AAL JP) will be launched. The challenge for the call for proposals of 2017 is 'AAL packages/Integrated solutions: Packages integrating different solutions based on ICT to support active, healthy and independent living of older adults'.

    Info &Partnering Day

    The AAL Central Info & Partnering Day is planned for the 6th of March 2017 in Brussels.

    Active and Assisted Living programme

    The Active and Assisted Living Joint Programme (AAL JP) is designed to foster the development of innovative technological/ICT-based products, services and systems to meet the needs of our ageing society and compensate for the expected staff shortages in the care sector. ZonMw is responsible for the implementation of AAL JP in the Netherlands.

    More information