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Excellent Science

Read more about the research talent at Erasmus MC.

Esther Mesman has been awarded the GGZ Postdoctoral fellowship 2018
Dr. Esther Mesman (Dept. of Pediatric psychiatry) has been awarded the GGZ Postdoctoral fellowship 2018 by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw). This personal GGZ Postdoctoral fellowship aims to stimulate innovative, creative and ground-breaking research that may have a large scientific and/or societal impact and will have added value to the current Dutch mental health care.

Bipolar disorder is a severe, chronic mood disorder with a high interpersonal and societal impact, affecting 1-2% of the population. Offspring from parents affected with bipolar disorder are at high risk of developing bipolar disorder, mood disorders and psychopathology in general. Early identification and adequate treatment of bipolar disorder during adolescence and young adulthood is extremely important, given the fact that this time window is crucial for interpersonal and psychosocial development. Using novel paradigms in psychiatry and the Dutch Bipolar Offspring cohort with an innovative 20-year follow-up, Esther will identify targets for early detection and optimal treatment of unipolar and bipolar disorder, and contribute to the development of preventive strategies in a high risk population.

   Esther Bron has been awarded the Young eScientist Award 2018
Dr. Esther Bron (Dept. of Medical Informatics) has been awarded the Young eScientist Award 2018 by the Netherlands eScience Center. The Young eScientist Award aims to stimulate a young scientist demonstrating excellence in the development of application of digital technology to address scientific challenges (eScience).

Esther will undertake a joint research project to compare methods that predict the evolution of individuals at risk of Alzheimer's disease, as conducted by international research groups. She will collaborate with the eScience Center to build a web-based platform to integrate these prediction methods into the platform and to validate them. She will be supported by eScience Research Engineers, who are experts in the development and application of research software. This platform will make these prediction methods publicly available and easy applicable.

ZonMw Off Road grants awarded for the first time to Erasmus MC researchers

Dr. Catarina de Sousa Osório - Purkinje cells in cerebellar development and function
Disruptions in cerebellar neurodevelopment or functioning have been implicated in diseases such as autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The aim of this project is to investigate the contribution of Purkinje cell activity to cerebellar development, and thereby to motor learning, cognition and emotional function.

Dr. Eskeww Mulugeta - Transcriptional factors and signalling pathways
Cellular development and differentiation is a tightly controlled process that is coordinated by transcriptional regulation of genes. This project aims to e.g. further unravel how transcriptional factors and signaling pathways interact with gene regulatory modules during development and differentiation, or disease conditions.

NWO Veni's awarded to Erasmus MC researchers

Dr. Lieke Kros - Interplay of brain areas in autism
Autism is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social problems and repetitive behavior. Disruptions in cerebellar development or functioning can cause autism. I will investigate how the cerebellum affects other key brain regions to better understand how this interplay contributes to autism and hopefully to help identify new treatment possibilities.

Dr. Joshua White - Neural organisation of walking
Walking is a very complicated task, which many people with genetic disorders are unable to successfully accomplish. This project aims to understand how neurons are organised and active for complex movements such as walking.

Dr. ir. Esther Warnert - Oxygen delivery to the brain
A decrease in oxygen in the brain occurs in various diseases, like brain tumours or after stroke, and can lead to severe damage of brain tissue. In order to improve care to the individual patient the researcher will develop MRI techniques to map the oxygen delivery to the brain.

Dr. Hieab Adams - Brain genes in 3D
Neurodegenerative diseases have a complex genetic cause that is poorly understood. This research will first determine the effect of these diseases on the brain in great detail. Next, this will be combined with 3D information about the genes in order to improve our genetic understanding of these diseases.

Dr. Marco Medici - Personalized management of thyroid disease
Worldwide, millions of treated thyroid disease patients have residual disabling complaints and are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, as we currently cannot predict the optimal thyroid parameters for an individual patient. In this project we aim to predict these, enabling personalized care for thyroid diseases.

Dr. Inge de Kok - How can we efficiently reduce the dementia burden?
Dementia knowledge has increased, however, it is still unknown how the disease burden can best be reduced. An innovative microsimulation model will be developed, that synthesises all evidence. It will lead to better understanding of disease development and intervention influences, and will identify interventions that efficiently reduce the dementia burden.

Stevin Prize for Marion Koopmas
NWO - Stevin Prize 
Prof. Marion Koopmans (ViroSciences) has been honored with NWO's prestigious Stevin Prize. She will receive the award during a festive event on 12 September. This €2.5 million award is granted to researchers who have played a crucial role in bringing innovative applications into practice. The laureates may spend the funds on their research and/or activities to further knowledge exchange and impact.
Prof. Koopmans receives the award for her foundational work on noroviruses: notorious causal agents of gastric flu. Following on her important discovery that noroviruses can undergo rapid genetic change to stay one step ahead of the immune system of their hosts, she initiated the worldwide NoroNet network which has significantly increased our knowledge about genetic variability within these viruses. She has also led medical containment efforts during outbreaks of the Ebola and Zika viruses; in the case of the 2015 Ebola outbreak, she decreased the time needed to confirm the diagnosis from three days to six hours, which played a leading role in confining the outbreak.
In 2015, Koopmans received €20 million from the European Commission to realize an online databank for the early detection of infectious diseases. She is a member of numerous advisory councils and plays an important role as an adviser for the World Health Organization (WHO).

Steven Prize Marion Koopmans


Simone Dalm


Dr. Simone Dalm - Click on Target: Developing a Safe Drug with Enhanced Therapeutic Potential for Prostate Cancer Treatment
KWF Young Investigator Grant 2018 

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common malignancy in men and the fifth cause of cancer-related death globally. The prognosis of PCa is dependent on the disease stage and the 5-year survival rate of patients with advanced PCa is only 28%. Over time different detection techniques and therapies have been developed, which positively impacted PCa patient care. However, currently used imaging modalities and therapeutic options are still limited; especially for the detection and treatment of (oligo)metastatic disease, improvements are needed for more accurate detection and dedicated, precise treatment with a low toxicity profile. The aim of this preclinical project is to develop and evaluate a pretargeting strategy based on click-chemistry for safe and effective GRPR-targeted radionuclide therapy. The pretargeting approach has not been applied before for such small molecules, and once established, may also be used for other radiopeptides and other small molecules.

NWO - Vidi 2018

Dr. ir. Rik Vos - Cardiac 3D re-perfusion imaging - QUANTO
After hospital intervention for opening of clogged cardiac arteries, one-third of patients show no restored blood perfusion in the heart wall. The researchers will build a new echographic system to monitor the perfusion in the heart wall during the intervention, which enables patient-specific treatment for better health afterwards.

Dr. Debby van Riel - Respiratory viruses unmasked: exploring their neurotropic potential
Respiratory viruses, and especially influenza A virus and enterovirus D68, can cause disease of the central nervous system but the mechanism is largely unknown. The proposed studies will unravel how respiratory viruses enter and cause damage in the nervous system, identify important viral factors and optimize diagnostics.

Dr. Aleksandra Badura - How does the autistic brain work?
Although several genetic defects increase the risk for autism and researchers have developed several autism mouse models, the source of autistic behavior is unknown. Now neuroscientists will use video-monitoring systems, mini-microscopes, Virtual-Reality and computer models to look at similarities in the behavior and brain activity of several autism mouse models.

Dr. Geeske van Woerden - CAMK2 and brain development: inseparably linked?
CAMK2 is one of the most extensively studied enzymes in the adult brain, but its role in neurodevelopment remains unknown. In this study researchers will investigate the role of CAMK2 in neuronal development and study the downstream siganling pathways.

Prof. Chris de Zeeuw receives prestigious Casella Prize 2018
RDO congratulates prof. de Zeeuw for being awarded the Casella Prize 2018 by the Almo Collegio Borromeo.
"The Casella Prize 2018 is awarded to Prof. Chris De Zeeuw for his outstanding scientific activity in neuroscience, with specific regard to cerebellar functions. Especially relevant are the results, published in top-rank international journals, on the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and neuronal activation in vivo during specific behaviors.  These results open important scenarios for future neuroscientific studies and suggest potential applications in the biomedical sector."   
The Casella prize is awarded by the Almo Collegio Borromeo, a private university in Pavia, Italy, founded in 1561. This university is recognised by the ministry of Education, Universities and Research of Italy as a highly qualified cultural institute.



Dr. Gijs van Soest - Imaging atherosclerotic plaque lipidomics in vivo  
NWO TTW - Vici 2017
Dr. van Soest will develop new techniques for imaging of atherosclerotic plaque, based on local biochemistry. This lipid imaging will help to diagnose atherosclerotic plaque and predict risk of events like coronary heart disease and stroke, informing personalised risk assessment and therapy.

Marie-Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowships awarded to Erasmus MC researchers

Dr. Devika Narain - Neural circuits for optimal prediction of timing
Neurosciences - Incoming Fellowship
Humans and animals often accurately predict the timing of intervals. Whether it is the split-second decision to cross the road or the moment when your cat decides to pounce at an unsuspecting mouse, using sensory information to accurately time movements is a highly refined function of the mammalian nervous system. While we have a good understanding of how isolated timing intervals are encoded in the brain, it is unclear how more sophisticated timing behavior, as illustrated in the examples above, is encoded in neural circuits. Devika proposes theoretical and experimental frameworks for how known circuits for simple timing contingencies can be expanded and probed to study the encoding of complex prediction of events.
Dr. Erwin Ista - DiarY by Nurses' iMplemented in the Intensive Care unit
Peadiatrics/Internal Medicine - Outgoing Fellowship
Nursing is the largest healthcare discipline worldwide and nurses play vital roles in the healthcare system. Clinical guidelines and protocols are available to provide safe and effective nursing care, but implementing these in routine care is not easy. So far, nursing implementation science has provided little evidence to guide the development of implementation strategies for influencing nurses' professional behaviors. The proposed research addresses an urgent question in the field of nursing implementation science: What are effective strategies to change nurses' behavior towards successful implementation of evidence-based interventions? Dr. Erwin Ista (applicant) will be supervised by Professor van Achterberg, professor of Quality of Care and head of the Academic Centre for Nursing and Midwifery at KU Leuven. 

Dr. My Phan - Novel PHAge MEthods for improved virus inactivation
Viroscience - Incoming Fellowship
The WHO estimates that 2 billion people still drink contaminated water and lack of access to safe sanitation and the safety of water supply worldwide is challenged by population growth and climate change. Most water safety measurements assess bacterial content and may miss viral pathogens; therefore removing or inactivating viral pathogens during the waste water treatment is of vital importance. Dr. My Phan aims to develop better systems for monitoring and evaluating virus inactivation methods using bacteriophages as surrogates.

Dr. Ilaria Tonazzini - Study of neuronal sensing and migration/guidance dynamics in neurodevelopmental disorders by nano-engineered chips
Neurosciences - Incoming Fellowship
Defects in neuronal migration have a severe impact on normal brain function. Neuroguide project is focused on the study of neuronal extracellular sensing and migration in models of neurodevelopmental disorders, at both system and molecular level , in vivo and in vitro, with a multidisciplinary approach that combines molecular biology, micro/nano-engineered devices (i.e. nano-structured substrates and microfluidic chips), and state-of-the-art fluorescence microscopy. As a pathological model, the project will focus on the unbalanced levels of ubiquitin ligase E3a (UBE3A), which leads to several neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Angelman Syndrome. The obtained results will help to clarify the role of UBE3A in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders but also to establish the value of nano-engineered platforms as innovative bio-mimicking platforms for investigating neuronal guidance dynamics in vitro.

Dr. Mirjam Kool - T Helper 17 Cells in Sarcoidosis
Longfonds - Dirkje Postma Award 

In several (pulmonary) diseases, like severe asthma, COPD and pneumonia, Th17-cells play an important role. Dr. Kool will evaluate whether the phenotype of Th17-lineage cells is sarcoidosis-specific or disease overarching, examining Th17-cells of severe asthma patients. This project will provide crucial insight into pathological role of Th17-lineage-cells and CTLA-4 function in sarcoidosis pathogenesis and other Th17-cell mediated (lung) diseases.



Dr. Rebekka Schneider - Bone Marrow Fibrosis
ERC Starting Grant- 2017

Bone marrow (BM) fibrosis is the continuous replacement of blood forming cells in the bone marrow by scar tissue, ultimately leading to failure of the body to produce blood cells. Primary myelofibrosis (PMF), an incurable blood cancer, is the prototypic example of the step-wise development of BM fibrosis. The specific mechanisms that cause BM fibrosis are not understood , in particular as the cells driving fibrosis have remained obs cure. Dr. Schneider aims to unravel these mechansims in her research.

NWO - Veni 2017

Dr. Tianshi Wang - New imaging technique sees the heart attack before it happens
Most heart attacks and strokes are caused by the rupture of lipid-core atherosclerotic plaques in the artery wall. Seeing the heart attack before it happens may potentially save millions of lives. Dr. Wang is developing a new technique named thermo-elastic deformation imaging, targeting early detection of the lipid-core plaques.

Dr. Henk-Jan Boele - New brain connections
Our brain, and in broader terms our nervous system, has an enormous adaptability (neuroplasticity). For this Veni-proposal, I want to investigate the biological processes of this brain adaptability. The gained knowledge about these processes is severely needed for the treatment of brain diseases as a result of degeneration or injury.

Dr. Karen Stegers-Jager - Fatal first impressions?
Within a split second assessors form a first impression of a trainee. How does this first impression influence the final rating? Is this the reason for poorer ratings for ethnic minority trainees? Unravelling this judgment process is essential for fair assessments for all students in our multicultural society.

Dr. Miao-Ping Chien - Identification, Isolation and Analysis of Single Cancer Stem Cells
To understand the molecular mechanisms driving oncogenesis it is imperative to study individual cells. I will create and use optical and chemical methods for the identification, isolation and analysis of single cancer stem cells, and investigate their role in the formation, progression and therapeutic resistance of tumors.

Dr. Patrick Forbes - Unravelling the brain's internal sensory and motor models of standing
How is balance maintained automatically? Our brain uses internal sensory and motor models to control posture. Using novel robotics, these models will be uncoupled by modifying properties of our sensors, body mechanics and environment. This research will reveal causal relationships between the neural computations and compensatory responses required to stand.

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