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Gravitation funding for five projects with Leiden researchers

The Advanced Nano-electrochemistry Institute Of the Netherlands (ANION) consortium will receive 23.6m euros in Gravitation funding for research on important electrochemical processes for energy transition. An additional four consortia with members from Leiden have also been awarded funding.

Seven consortia with top scientists from various Dutch universities will receive a total of 160.5m euros. Leiden University is involved in four projects and is the main applicant in one.

The Gravitation funding will enable these consortia to conduct pioneering research over the next ten years. Minister Dijkgraaf (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) is making this funding available for researchers from one or more disciplines who are working together in consortia. This fosters innovation, excellence and the international positioning of Dutch research. The Dutch Research Council (NWO) carried out the selection process for the Gravitation programme.

ANION: Advanced Nano-electrochemistry Institute Of the Netherlands

A large-scale energy transition in society requires efficient electrochemical processes for generating, converting and storing sustainable energy. Existing electrochemical processes have serious limitations and are unable to meet the challenges ahead. At present there is insufficient knowledge of the processes occurring at the smallest scale in electrochemical systems to fundamentally improve these. In this multidisciplinary fundamental research programme, chemists and physicists will lay the foundation for efficient new electrochemical technologies designed to dramatically reduce humanity’s carbon footprint.  The consortium is headed by Professor Marc Koper (LIC). Also involved in the research: Semonti Bhattacharyya (LION), Katharina Doblhoff-Dier (LIC), Irene Groot (LIC), Ludo Juurlink (LLInC), Jörg Meyer (LIC), Sense Jan van der Molen (LION), Rik Mom (LIC), Michel Orrit (LION), Jan van Ruitenbeek (LION) and Grégory Schneider (LIC). The co-applicants for this consortium are researchers from Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam, the University of Groningen and the University of Twente.

Institute for Chemical Neuroscience (iCNS)

The aim of iCNS is to elucidate the molecular changes relating to psychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety and psychosis. Neurobiologists, chemists, psychiatrists and data science experts are working closely together on human brain tissue. Young scientists will be trained in combining chemistry, artificial intelligence and neurobiology. Their research will lead to a ‘brain atlas’ of psychiatric symptoms and to entirely new approaches to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of psychiatric illnesses. Ten Leiden researchers are involved in the consortium. Professor Mario van der Stelt (LIC) has a leading role and the following are also involved: Kim Bonger (LIC), Elise Dusseldorp (Psychology), Stephan Hacker (LIC), Anthe Janssen (LIC), Sander van Kasteren (LIC), Alexander Kros (LIC), Ahmed Mahfouz (LUMC), Monique Mulder (LUMC), Martijn Verdoes (LUMC) and Gerard van Westen (LACDR). Other researchers involved in this consortium are from the University of Amsterdam, UMC Groningen, Radboud UMC and Utrecht University.


Health is not a given as it often is challenged by the body’s own proteins. To prevent harm, cells have a vast quality-control system in place that supports, corrects or removes damaging proteins. Failure of this quality-control system results in diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, haemophilia and some emphysemas. This project aims to understand enough of the effects and machinery of the quality-control process for steps to be taken towards preventing and curing diseases. From Leiden, Alfred Vertegaal (LUMC) is one of the consortium leaders. Monique Mulder (LUMC) and Anne Wentink (LIC) are also involved in the consortium. Other researchers involved in this consortium are from Utrecht University, the University of Twente and UMC Groningen.

Adapt! Preparing societies for future crises

The open society is increasingly threatened by crises such as pandemics, terrorism, floods and earthquakes. Its future depends on its ability to prepare for such crises. Adapt! investigates the role of a society’s cultural, social and governmental capabilities to respond to crises. Together with citizens and frontline professionals, the Adapt! consortium will translate research findings into tools and strategies that help societies navigate through crises. From Leiden, Arjen Boin (Political Science), Paul Nieuwenburg (Political Science) and Daan Scheepers (Psychology) are involved in this research. Other researchers involved in this consortium are from Utrecht University, the University of Twente, Radboud University and VU Amsterdam.

GreenTE: Green Tissue Engineering

All living organisms are subject to the laws of physics, and are exposed to mechanical forces. These included stresses caused by neighboring cells, but also by pathogens that are trying to invade. The researchers will study how plant cells – with an internal pressure exceeding that in a champagne bottle – perceive mechanical forces, and how such forces control growth, development, and immunity. Armed with this knowledge, the consortium will develop new strategies for improving propagation and immunity in crops. From Leiden University, Professor Roeland Merks’ (MI/IBL) Mathematical Biology research group is involved as a partner. Other researchers in this consortium are from Wageningen University & Research, the University of Groningen VU Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Radboud University and Eindhoven University of Technology.

Minister Dijkgraaf

Outgoing Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf stressed the importance of the Gravitation programme for the Netherlands, ‘With investments like these, we ensure that we in the Netherlands maintain our position as a world leader in science. This not only delivers important new insights but also strengthens our economy. And it results in innovations from which we all benefit. I am proud that we have such scientific talent in our country. It should be taken for granted and is truly something to be cherished.’

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