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Three VICI grants for Leiden researchers

Three Leiden researchers have been awarded a prestigious Vici grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). They each receive 1.5 million Euro to develop their own research project in the coming 5 years.

Mario van der Stelt

The body's own marijuana

The body’s own marijuana: when and where is it active?
Mario van der Stelt, Leiden Institute for Chemistry

Understanding the human brain and how it functions on a molecular level is among the most challenging scientific frontiers in the 21st century. In VICI project chemical biologists will develop a chemical toolbox which in combination with the latest genetic editing techniques will enlighten how small molecules influence nerve cell communication.

Prostate cancer surgery

A roadmap for minimally invasive (robot-assisted) prostate cancer surgery
Fijs van Leeuwen, LUMC - Image guided surgery

In this project, an anatomic roadmap will be realized that depicts prostate tumors in the context of delicate anatomical structures such as the lymphatics and nerves, both prior to and during surgery. Using fluorescence guidance and navigationbased approaches this roadmap can be used to improve the accuracy of (robot-assisted) prostate cancer surgery.

Roeland Merks

A mathematical view on blood vessels

Mathematical insights into the repair of tumor vasculature
Professor Roeland Merks, affiliated with the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) and works one day a week at Leiden University

Blood vessels in tumours are leaky and chaotic. The resulting poor blood flow makes cancer cells more aggressive and complicates chemotherapy. Using mathematical simulations and lab experiments Merks will design strategies for blood vessel repair. Promising targets are abnormal tumour metabolism and the mechanics of fibres that connect cells together.

The VICI grants of 2018 in numbers

  • Total number of applicants: 223, of which 88 were female (38%)
  • Number of grants awarded: 35, of which 10 to a woman (29%)
  • Percentage of granted applications: 15%
  • Percentage of granted applications of a female applicant: 11%
  • Percentage of granted applications of a male applicant: 17%

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)  is one of the largest science subsidiaries in The Netherlands. NWO promotes quality and innovation in science by selecting and financing the best research projects in the country. The Vici grant is intended for highly experienced researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative line of research and can act as a coach for young researchers. The Vici grant is one of three types of grant in the NWO Talent Scheme. The other two are the Veni grant (for researchers who have gained their doctorates within the last three years) and the Vidi grant (for experienced postdocs who have received their doctorates within the last 8 years).

More on NWO

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