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From stress to success: Vici grant for Dennis Claessen

Why do some bacteria lose their protective cell wall under the influence of stress? Microbiologist Dennis Claessen of the Institute of Biology Leiden receives a Vici grant of 1.5 million euros from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to investigate this paradoxical feature.

Vici laureate Dennis Claessen

‘The title of my research proposal “From stress to success” turned out to be very appropriate in the stressful period of this application. I am very happy with this acknowledgement.’ With the Vici grant of 1.5 million euros, associate professor Dennis Claessen can continue building on the foundations of previous research. In 2018, he and his team discovered that some bacteria under stress can generate cells without a cell wall. This is remarkable because bacteria are known to have a strong cell wall that protects against various forms of stress and is therefore essential. ‘What I want to find out is how bacteria can use this weird trick to their advantage,’ explains the Vici laureate.

Sharing success

Claessen's research project is primarily fundamental. He certainly sees possibilities for application in the long term, but first, more insight is needed into the phenomenon of cell wall deficiency. He notices that other labs show a lot of interest in his research. With the grant, Claessen wants to invest, among other things, in high-throughput imaging microscopy to better facilitate the research. ‘Moreover, in this way, my current team can share in this success.’

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) is one of the largest science subsidiaries in The Netherlands. The Vici grant is intended for highly experienced researchers who have successfully developed 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, together with the Veni grant for researchers who have gained their doctorates within the last three years and the Vidi grant for postdoctoral researchers.

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