Universiteit Leiden

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Four Leiden University researchers receive Rubicon Grants

Four Leiden researchers, who have recently obtained their PhDs, will receive a Rubicon Grant from NWO to conduct research abroad. A total of 22 scientists have received Rubicon Grants. This grant aims to provide young, promising scientists with international research experience.

Joanna Pawlak

Joanna Pawlak (Faculty of Science) will go to Yale University School of Medicine to investigate T-killer cells. These immune cells can recognise tumours and virus-infected cells based on small, abnormal proteins on the cell surface, and subsequently destroy them. Pawlak is going to investigate how and where these small proteins are processed so that the T-killer cells can recognize them.

Margot Pont

Margot Pont (LUMC) is going to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Some immune cells of a cancer patient can be modified outside the body, and then reintroduced to the patient to fight the cancer. Pont is going to investigate how to improve these CAR-T cells outside the body so that they can destroy the cancer cells even more effectively.

Changsheng Wu

Changsheng Wu (Faculty of Science) is going to the Laboratory of Genetically Encoded Small Molecules of the Rockefeller University, where new types of antibiotics are being researched. He will focus on still unknown proteins of microorganisms in the soil. These proteins can accelerate certain chemical reactions and thus produce new substances for the development of potential drugs.

Evin Aktar

Evin Aktar will conduct research at Penn State University's Cognitive Affect and Temperament Lab. She will investigate how verbal information from parents affects the physiology, thoughts and behaviour of children in social situations. She will also study what role the child's temperament plays here. 

Important career step

The Leiden researchers have all three received a grant for 24 months of research in a research institution abroad. Research experience abroad is a crucial career step for many scientists. In addition to the Leiden researchers, another 18 have received grants for periods between 14 and 24 months. The amount of funding depends on the chosen destination and duration of the stay.

About the Rubicon programme

In total, 78 researchers applied for Rubicon subsidies. Twelve laureates will go to the United States, four to the UK, two to Germany, one to Australia, one to Canada, one to France and one to Belgium. Every year, NWO can finance some 60 young researchers within the Rubicon programme that has been in existence since 2005. It is named after the river Julius Caesar crossed in 49 BC, prior to the victory series that led to his famous statement 'Veni, Vidi, Vici'.

Photo above: the campus of Yale University.