32 leading scientists will each receive 1.5 million euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This Vici grant will enable them to develop an innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years. Vici is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands and targets advanced researchers.

The Vici laureates will examine the role played by curiosity in child development, which changes give rise to congenital heart diseases, and how a mixed provision of languages influences the language acquisition of children. Another research project will focus on the neurobiology of Parkinson’s disease with the aim of detecting the disease earlier. Researchers will also develop a revolutionary engine that converts renewable fuels into clean energy.

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

Immunity throughout the body

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

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

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

Genetic heart disease – what goes wrong?

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

From Headache to Heartache

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

Towards treatment of Intellectual Disability and Autism disorders

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

Keeping up appearances

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

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