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Vici grants for 7 Leiden researchers

Seven Leiden researchers have been awarded a prestigious Vici grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Five of the researchers are from Leiden University and two are from the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). The award winners are three women and four men. A further 25 researchers from other Dutch universities also received a Vici grant. The funding will allow the scientists to carry out research for a period of five years and to build their own research group. Vici is one of the biggest personal scientific awards in the Netherlands. 

Gabrielle van den Berg – Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS)

Turkish nomadic rulers established large empires in the Middle East and Asia between the 11th and 14th centuries. This project will explain the link between their new political ideology and the production of art and literature, via the cultural heritage of five cities along the Silk Road: Kashgar, Samarkand, Ghazna, Tabriz and Konya.

Remus Dame – Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC)

DNA is folded up compactly in the bacterial cell. Normally, many genes are "off" but they can be activated by signals from the environment. The researchers will unravel which proteins are involved in this and what the role of DNA folding is in the process of regulation.   

Bernet Elzinga – Institute for Psychology

Emotional abuse by parents plays an important role in the development of depression. This intergenerational project will investigate how daily conflictive parent-child interactions contribute to depressive symptoms in the child and which functional and dysfunctional processes in the social brain of both parents and adolescents play a role in this.

Henk Hoekstra – Leiden Observatory

Massive objects in the universe disrupt the paths of light rays as a result of which the orientations of remote galaxies are correlated with each other. This signal can be used to investigate the properties of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy. The aim of this research is to better measure and interpret this “gravitational lens signal”. 

Ingrid Meulenbelt – Molecular Epidemiology (LUMC)

Arthrosis is a highly prevalent, debilitating joint disease. However the development of an effective treatment is severely hindered because the disease process differs considerably between patients. The project will unravel and simulate the biological basis of the most important differences in a piece of cultured joint tissue. This will subsequently be used to search for new treatment methods for arthrosis.

Thijs van Osch – Radiology (LUMC)

The brain is dependent on a continuous supply of blood to obtain sufficient oxygen and nutrients. The interaction between different regulatory systems guarantees this blood supply but old age and illness can deregulate the system. Using MRI, a technique will be developed to measure the various regulatory systems in a single go.

Miguel John Versluys - Archaeology

Innovation usually arises from the influx of objects from outside. New objects introduce new possibilities and form the connection between a particular society and the wider world. This project will investigate the historical relationship between objects and innovation, taking the globalising Roman world as an example.   

A Vici grant was also awarded to Joost Batenburg,  who is affiliated to the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI, the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands) in Amsterdam, and also works one day a week at the Mathematical Institute in Leiden. 

About the Vici grant

Vici is part of the NWO Incentive Scheme, that comprises Veni, Vidi and Vici grants. With this scheme NWO offers scientists at different stages in their career the opportunity to conduct pioneering research. The Incentive Scheme is intended to stimulate scientific talent; it is an incentive for the Vici researchers themselves and at the same time creates opportunities for a large number of young researchers to work in their research groups. 

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