20 February 2020

Six Utrecht-based scientists to receive Vici research grants

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has granted Vici grants to six researchers of Utrecht University, the UMC Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute. They will each receive 1.5 million euros.

The Vici grant is a personal grant for outstanding, senior researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative lines of research. Vici researchers are among the top ten percent in their research field. They have also proven their ability to coach young researchers. Vici laureates are allowed to put together their own research centre.

The laureates

How cosmology emerges from quantum gravity
Thomas Grimm
Associate Professor Science

The observed expansion of our universe suggests that it is filled by a substance known as dark energy. Thomas Grimm propose that its mysterious properties can only be understood by using a quantum theory of gravity. This leads to a new description for the evolution of our universe


Mix die taal! Or maybe not?
Elma Blom
Professor Social Sciences

Many bilinguals combine or mix languages when they speak. Elma Blom aims to find out if children have difficulties learning language from mixed sources, how and why children mix, and if language mixing is different for children with and without a Developmental Language Disorder.


Immunity throughout the body
José Borghans
Associate Professor Immunology UMC Utrecht

Current insights into the human immune system are almost exclusively based on studies of the blood, a place where only a minority of immune cells reside. By combining experimental work with mathematics, this research unravels how long-term immunological memory is maintained by immune cells throughout the body.


Novel tactics to combat a silent but dangerous intruder: non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
Saskia van Mil
Professor Center for Molecular Medicine

Millions of people live with the silent liver disease non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, putting them at high risk for developing liver failure and cancer. Presently, no treatment is available. To address this need, Saskia van Mill will selectively target the Farnesoid X Receptor to develop a highly effective therapy without side effects.


Genetic heart disease – what goes wrong?
Eva van Rooij
Professor Molecular Cardiologie, UMC Utrecht and Hubrecht Institute

Genetic heart diseases are caused by a mistake in your DNA and are characterised by several disease driving changes in the heart that contribute to the progression of the disease. To date very little is known about the exact mechanisms that drive these changes. Eva van Rooij's goal is to discover what causes these pathological changes to occur to potentially contribute to the development of enhanced therapies.


Sugar coats: keeping up appearances
Nina van Sorge
Associate Professor Medical Microbiology

Bacteria are all covered by a thick cell wall, predominantly composed of sugars. The pathogen Staphylococcus aureus can cover itself in different ‘sugar coats’. Nina van Sorge thinks that recognition of these different sugar coats is a key factor in immune defense and for the development of new antibiotics and vaccines.