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NWO Vidi of 800,000 euros for six VU researchers

1 July 2022
The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded 101 experienced researchers, six of whom are from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc, with a Vidi grant of 800,000 euros. This will enable them to develop their own innovative line of research over the next five years and set up a research group.

The laureates are, in alphabetical order:
Cognitive neuroscientist Freek van Ede receives the Vidi for his project 'External control over your internal focus'
The human brain acts as the interface between the inner (mental) and the outer (physical) worlds. In his project, Van Ede will uncover how external visual sensations automatically draw attention to matching internal representations held in visual working memory, and how such externally driven selective memory activation may be utilised to experimentally manipulate the formation of long-term memory traces.

Neurophysiologist Natalia Goriounova receives the Vidi for her project ‘Fast neurons of our cognition'
Our ability to think, reason, solve problems, depends on the activity of neurons in our brain. Recent studies show that our neurons can generate fast signals to process large amount of information, but the mechanisms behind this fast signalling are unknown. Gorionova will study how specialized types of human neurons generate and maintain fast signals. By looking at gene expression in these neurons we will understand how these neurons achieve fast computation and link to cognition.

Neuroscientist Rik van der Kant of the Alzheimer Center receives the Vidi for his project 'Bad fat? Improving lipid metabolism to treat Alzheimer’s disease'
Genetic risk factors that increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease have a major role in brain fat metabolism and immune function. This research will investigate how fat accumulation in the brain contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and will develop new pharmaceutical interventions that can prevent or treat the disease.

Molecular Biologist Priyanka Rao-Ruiz receives the Vidi for her project ‘Unravelling the synaptic code of memory'
Memory formation and its storage requires strengthening of connections between sparsely distributed neurons that are activated at the time of learning. In this project, she will causally pinpoint and connect the neurobiological processes that underlie and regulate this strengthening, in order to identify the precise synaptic code of successful memory formation.

Information scientist Anastasia Sergeeva receives the Vidi for her project 'Robots at work: Bridging the gap between the robot development and workplace use'
Despite robots increasingly entering our work lives, we know surprisingly little about their impact on jobs. Sergeeva will explain our work is changing once robots are entering work settings to serve as partners of humans. By following over several years, how robots are developed in the lab and used “in the wild” I will reveal unexpected consequences of robots for the task, team and role dimensions of work. Her findings will then be fed back to engineering labs, implementors and policymakers to ensure that future generation of robots is designed to support rather than undermine our work lives.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Annelou de Vries of Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc receives the Vidi for her project 'Strengthening Transgender Care for Youth'
Medical transgender care for youth is confronted with overwhelming increases in referrals. De Vries' project aims to provide better evidence base of the current care model. In addition, in collaboration with adolescents, their parents and care providers, a decision making framework will be developed.

NWO Talent Programme
Vidi is aimed at experienced researchers who have carried out successful research for a number of years after obtaining their PhDs. Together with Veni and Vici, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programme. Researchers in the Talent Programme are free to submit their own subject for funding. NWO thus encourages curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use.

A total of 625 researchers submitted an admissible research project for funding during this Vidi funding round. 101 of these have now received grants. That amounts to an award rate of 16%. Read more on the NWO website.