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Veni grants for five researchers

16 December 2021
The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded 89 promising young scientists, five of which from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc, a Veni grant of up to 280,000 euros. This allows these laureates to further develop their own research ideas for a period of three years.

VU Amsterdam proudly congratulates the following laureates, in alphabetical order:

Molecular cell biologist and immunologist Alsya Affandi with the research Nanotrivax: three-component nanobody-vaccines targeting human dendritic cells for immunotherapy
Dendritic cells (DCs) are master regulators of immune system that have tremendous immunotherapy potential; however, current strategies have been unsatisfactory. Here, Affandi aims to develop nanobody-based vaccines, consisting DC-targeting and DC-modulating nanobodies, conjugated to disease-antigen, to improve anti-tumor immune responses in cancer, or to dampen inflammation in autoimmune diseases.

Pathologist and cell biologist Caitrin Crudden with the research Intercepting Cancer’s Mail; how extracellular vesicles micro-manage the secretome
Cell biology relies on so-called ‘lock and key’ receptor-ligand interactions. But ‘keys’ (ligands) are not freefloating on their quest to find their ‘lock’ (receptor). Instead ’key-chains’ (decoys) hold them and dictate their freedom. Crudden will investigate how these molecular key-chains control cell-migration in cancer, a process fundamental to disease progression.

Geneticist Philip Jansen with the research Identifying targetable mechanisms of insomnia in brain aging and dementia
Insomnia (sleep problems) is associated with aging of the brain and dementia. Whether insomnia is a cause or consequence of normal and accelerated brain aging, and through which mechanisms, is currently unexplored. Jansen uses large-scale brain imaging and genetic data to elucidate causal pathways between insomnia, brain aging and dementia.

Biologist Julie Lattaud with the research Evolution of the biological methane filter in the Beaufort SeaMethane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Yet, methane emission estimates contain large uncertainties, hindering accurate climate predictions. To better constrain Arctic methane release, Lattaud aims to identify Arctic Ocean methane-consuming microorganisms. Using environmental archives, she will reveal how the Arctic responded to past warming to better predict future changes.

Physicist Andrii Usachov with the research Search for spectacular signatures of light dark matter at LHCb
Usachov will search for dark hadrons - a new type of subatomic particles that can explain the existence of Dark Matter in the Universe. Dark hadrons can be abundantly produced at the Large Hadron Collider, leaving unique spectacular signatures in the LHCb detector.

Talent Programme
Veni, together with Vidi and Vici, is part of the NWO Talent Program. Veni is aimed at excellent researchers who have recently obtained their doctorate. Within the Talent Programme, researchers are free to submit their own subject for funding. In this way, NWO stimulates curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative nature of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and possibilities for knowledge utilisation.

Read more about the Veni's on the NWO website