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Five Veni grants awarded

Five Erasmus MC researchers who recently received their PhDs will now be able to further their research thanks to a Veni grant. The research topics include the first impression students make, new brain connections, staying in balance, and the early detection of a heart attack.

Own ideas
The Veni grants awarded by NWO (The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) are worth up to € 250,000 and they allow  the researchers to further develop their scientific ideas for a period of three years. Below you can find details of the applicants:

StudentenFatal first impression
Dr. Karen Stegers-Jager, education, university lecturer: "Within a split second assessors form a first impression of a student. How does this first impression influence the final rating? Is this the reason for poorer ratings for ethnic minority students? Unravelling this judgment process is essential for fair assessments for all students in our multicultural society."

Brain connections
Dr. Henk-Jan Boele, department of Neurosciences: "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 adaptability of the brain. The knowledge gained about these processes is very much needed for the treatment of brain diseases as a result of degeneration or injury."

Identifying stem cells
Dr. Miao-Ping Chien, department of Molecular Genetics: "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."

Early detection of a heart attack
Dr. Tianshi Wang, department of Cardiology: "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. I am currently developing a new  technique named thermo-elastic deformation imaging, targeting early detection of the lipid-core plaques."

balansMaintaining balance
Dr. Patrick Forbes, department of Neurosciences: "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."

The Talent Scheme
In this funding round, a total of 1,127 researchers applied for a Veni grant for an independent research project. 154 of the applicants were awarded a grant. The percentage of researchers awarded a grant was 13%. NWO invested a total of €38.3 million in this funding round.

Date published: 3 August 2017.

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