TOP grant for eleven excellent research groups

Eleven projects by excellent research groups have been awarded a TOP grant. This will allow them to revitalise their lines of research and enter into new collaborations. They will receive up to €675,000 for research lasting at least four and no more than five years.

About TOP

The purpose of the TOP grant is to create scope for innovative science of outstanding quality. ZonMw regards the unrestricted encouragement of science as the best driver of innovation in the longer term.

Grants have been awarded to the following projects in this final round of TOP:

GABAergic inhibition in tinnitus: linking human and animal studies

Professor J.G.G. (Gerard) Borst (Neurosciences, Erasmus Medical Centre) and his group are to research tinnitus and increased sensitivity in nerve cells in the central auditory system. The study should lead to a better understanding of this common condition, and may help improve treatment.

Identifying the molecular mechanisms triggered by vaginal and gut microbiota that enhance HIV-1 susceptibility

Dr. T.B.H. Geijtenbeek (Experimental Immunology, Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam) and his group will collaborate with the research group led by Dr. K. Strijbis (Utrecht University) on the difference in sensitivity to the HIV virus between different people and the role that bacteria play in this. The expertise of these two research groups is highly complementary, and very important for the success of this project.

Ganglioside-containing liposomes as a strategy for cancer vaccination

Dr. J.M.M. (Joke) den Haan (Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, VU medical centre) and her group are to investigate the optimum vaccination strategy for activating the immune system of cancer patients. They will be collaborating with Professor Gert Storm’s research group.

Interneuron networks in Alzheimer's disease: diagnostic and therapeutic implications

Dr. R.E. (Ronald) van Kesteren (Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and his group will perform research designed to detect early anomalies in brain activity patterns that indicate a preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease. More knowledge of this might make treatment possible before the disease manifests itself.

Breaking the silence – Dissecting the transcriptional and epigenetic regulatory network that underlies Plasmodium hypnozoite dormancy

Dr. C. (Clemens) Kocken (Biomedical Primate Research Centre) and his group will research the dormant liver stages of malaria parasites. In this phase, the parasites are resistant to most antimalaria drugs and cause several illness episodes in patients without reinfection. The knowledge will be used to develop new drug treatments to combat this manifestation of the parasite.

Next Generation Phenotyping: The next move in movement disorders

Professor M.A.J. (Marina) de Koning-Tijssen (Neurology, University Medical Centre Groningen) and her group will use new technologies and AI to study patients with involuntary movements (shaking and jolting). They will use the knowledge acquired to develop new benchmarks for diagnosis and treatment.

Epigenetic control of cytotoxic T cells to modulate immune responses

Dr. F. (Fred) van Leeuwen (Gene Regulation, Netherlands Cancer Institute) and his group will study molecules and chemicals that can ‘epigenetically’ control the activity of genes in the nucleus of cells. They hope this will enable them to make immunotherapy more effective.

A dangerous liaison: BRAF and RNF43 mutational cooperation in therapy-resistant colorectal cancer

Professor M.M. (Madelon) Maurice (Cell Biology, University Medical Centre Utrecht) and her group will study the mechanism that causes colorectal tumours to behave aggressively, and hope to use this knowledge to develop a new personal treatment strategy.

SUMO Wrestling with the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System

Professor (Huib) Ovaa (Chemical Immunology, Leiden University Medical Center) and his group will study the collaboration between the ubiquitine and SUMO proteins to gain a better understanding of the emergence and progress of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

Tissue-engineering approach to reduce the risk of recurrent prolapse

Professor J.P.W.R. (Jan-Paul) Roovers (Urogynaecology, Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam) and his group will study ways of improving wound healing after prolapse surgery. The hydrogels they hope to develop should prevent women having to undergo further surgery for recurrent prolapse.

Targeted glucocorticoid treatment for HPA-axis dysfunction in post-traumatic stress disorder: toward personalized treatment

Professor B. (Benno) Roozendaal (Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Radboudumc) and his group will study the role of the hormone cortisol in exposure therapy for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Exposure therapy works in half of patients, and this study might potentially improve the effectiveness of the treatment.

More information

This was the final round of TOP. The first call for the ZonMw Open Competition programme was published in January 2019. This new funding instrument replaces TOP grants and Medium-sized Investment grants, as part of the harmonisation and simplification of funding instruments across the board at NWO.