ZonMw tijdlijn FAIR data and data management https://www.zonmw.nl/ Het laatste nieuws van de tijdlijn van FAIR data and data management en-gb Thu, 02 Dec 2021 17:54:36 +0100 Thu, 02 Dec 2021 17:54:36 +0100 TYPO3 news-7994 Tue, 09 Nov 2021 15:03:41 +0100 Jeroen Geurts new Rector Magnificus VU Amsterdam https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/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-7402 Tue, 02 Nov 2021 11:22:00 +0100 Webinar Series on COVID-19 vaccination in immunocompromised patients https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/detail/item/webinar-series-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-immunocompromised-patients/ ZonMw will start a new 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 first webinar will take place on December 7th, 2021. 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 #1

In this Webinar, projectleaders Jan-Stephan Sanders and Elisabeth de Vries Sjoukje Oosting from the University of Groningen will share results from the RECOVAC: kidney (transplant) patients and VOICE: cancer patients trials. Martijn Luijsterburg will host this Webinar, together with Daniel Warmerdam.

Date and time

7 December 2021, 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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news-7907 Wed, 27 Oct 2021 11:39:32 +0200 26 projects to stimulate open science https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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

More information

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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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.

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news-7605 Thu, 12 Aug 2021 09:00:00 +0200 Challenge for Create2Solve can now be submitted! https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/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-7560 Wed, 28 Jul 2021 16:10:00 +0200 Call for grant applications ‘Action research on dementia care in the Dutch Caribbean’ open for submission https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/detail/item/call-for-grant-applications-action-research-on-dementia-care-in-the-dutch-caribbean-open-for-submi/ The call for grant applications ‘Action research on dementia care in the Dutch Caribbean’ has been opened at the ZonMw website. The deadline for submission is 21 september 2021, at 14.00 The call for grant applications focuses on dementia care in the Dutch Caribbean. The research must focus on developing and using knowledge to provide sustainable solutions for dementia care that are relevant to formal and informal healthcare practice, people living with dementia and their loved ones. There should be an alignment with existing local initiatives for dementia care and dementia support in the region.

Who can apply for a grant

ZonMw invites a yet-to-be-formed partnership to submit an application. The partnership will involve relevant parties within dementia care in the Dutch Caribbean. In this grant round, funding can be requested for action research in the field of dementia. Action research involves both research and implementation. Close collaboration is required between practitioners, people with dementia and their loved ones, informal carers, government and research.

Budget and deadline

For this grant round, €250,000 is available. One project will be approved. The closing date for applications is 21 September 2021, at 14.00.

More information

If you have any questions about the procedure or substantive questions, you can e-mail dementie@zonmw.nl or contact Marjolein Scholten (+31 70 3495335) or Sophie Habets (+31 70 3495086).

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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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.

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news-7392 Mon, 21 Jun 2021 11:42:00 +0200 ZonMw invests in bridge-builders between clinical practice and research https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/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.

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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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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-7243 Thu, 06 May 2021 14:57:54 +0200 Videocall app 123familie.nl winner of JAIN challenge 2021 https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/detail/item/videocall-app-123familienl-winner-of-jain-challenge-2021/ An app that allows you to make video calls super easy, even if someone doesn’t have digital skills or suffers from forgetfulness or dementia. With this solution the 123familie app won the Dutch JAIN challenge on April 28th. This bi-annual challenge called for solutions based on artificial intelligence, which improve the quality of life and independence of people with dementia and their environment. And which could reduce the workload for professionals, relatives and caretakers. Simple recording function

The nominated solutions were assessed by a jury and a focus group of users, consisting mainly of informal caretakers. The 123familie.nl app, which stems from the Active & Assisted Living-project Kith&Kin, was praised by the jury of the JAIN Challenge for its user-friendliness. Especially the automatic pick-up function was appreciated for people in further stages of dementia. This function ensures that someone with dementia does not have to pick up the phone when it rings; the caller can connect remotely. However this function can also be switched off if it’s not necessary.

Other advantages of the app that where mentioned is that privacy is served by the fact that only family/friends with an entry code can make videocontact. Next to that the app can also be used on several devices, such as smartphones, tablets or a smart tv. So, there is no need to buy a special device.

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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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-7074 Tue, 23 Mar 2021 16:00:00 +0100 Dutch minister adopts recommendations from ME/CFS research agenda and commissions research programme https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/detail/item/dutch-minister-adopts-recommendations-from-mecfs-research-agenda-and-commissions-research-programme/ The Dutch Minister of Medical Care and Sport, Tamara van Ark, intends to ask ZonMw to carry out a biomedical research programme on ME/CFS. This was stated in a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives sent by Van Ark on the 23rd of March. There will be 28.5 million euros available to carry out a research programme with a duration of 10 years. In doing so, the Minister has adopted the most important recommendations from the ZonMw ME/CFS research agenda. This agenda was presented to the Minister of Medical Care and Sport (VWS) on the 23rd of December 2020. The research agenda was drawn up by a steering committee composed of representatives of patient organizations, practitioners and scientists from different fields of science. ZonMw facilitated the steering committee and used its knowledge, experience and network to steer the process in the right direction.

Enabling scientific breakthroughs

Jeroen Geurts, chairman of ZonMw, is pleased with the intended commission to ZonMw. ‘ME/CFS is a serious chronic illness for which there is no effective treatment. More biomedical research makes scientific breakthroughs possible that improve the lives of patients with ME/CFS. The ME/CFS research agenda was the first step in that process; I am pleased that we can take the necessary follow-up steps with this new programme.’

In drawing up the research agenda, cooperation between patients, therapists and scientists played an important role. This cooperation will be continued in the new programme, according to Geurts. ‘There are many different opinions about the causes and treatment of ME/CFS. In addition, only a small group of scientists in the Netherlands conducts research into the illness. Many therapists know little or nothing about the disease. Only by working together intensively can differences of opinion be bridged, so we can we really change the lives of patients.’

‘This cooperation is not limited to our national borders. By cooperating internationally, we can set up larger-scale research, share data and combine research resources. In this way, breakthroughs will come within reach more quickly.’

Next steps

Once we receive an official assignment from the Dutch government, ZonMw will begin preparations for a biomedical research programme on ME/CFS. The first scientific studies should start in early 2022. Topics that will be addressed in the preparatory phase include the participation of patientorganisations, the composition of the programme committee, the start-up of a patient cohort and the collaboration with foreign scientists.

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news-7064 Thu, 18 Mar 2021 16:58:45 +0100 Changing the game: on the assessment of researchers and their research https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/detail/item/changing-the-game-on-the-assessment-of-researchers-and-their-research/ Today a consultation meeting of research performing organisations took place. The European Committee Research & Innovation organised this meeting. Several European research funders focused on the assessment of researchers and research teams. Jeroen Geurts, chair of ZonMw and ambassador for the Dutch initiative Recognition and Rewards, was there to represent the Dutch perspective. Jeroen Geurts started his contribution to the round table discussion with a short statement in which he highlighted the position paper Room for everyone’s talent: towards a new balance in the recognition and rewards for academics and gave some examples of activities to assess researchers not only on their research but also on education, a balance between individual and team science, leadership and clinical research. Examples were among other things the introduction of a narrative CV in the funding scheme ‘Talent programme’ of NWO and ZonMw, a national report about professionalising data stewardship by setting out guidelines for competences, training and education, and to make Open Science (open access and FAIR data) a standard item to be addressed in calls and application forms.

Jeroen Geurts: "Reasons for success in the Dutch Rewards & Recognition process were the early build of a strong coalition of RPOs and funders and a subsequent bottom-up process that enabled thorough, local implementation of the changes proposed. This way, we could change not only the rules, but the entire game."

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news-7082 Mon, 08 Mar 2021 14:57:00 +0100 Professionalising data stewardship with competences, training and education https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/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.

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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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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.  

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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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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.

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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/nl/actueel/nieuws/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-6897 Mon, 08 Feb 2021 10:28:00 +0100 Fellowships Gender in Research course https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/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).

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news-6872 Thu, 04 Feb 2021 10:15:23 +0100 ZonMw Open Competition: new funding round opens mid-June https://www.zonmw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/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.

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