9 February 2017

Two international grants for computer scientist Marco Spruit

Marco Spruit (Computer Science) is receiving grants for two international collaboration projects, both starting this spring. In the OPTICA project, Spruit will introduce his STRIP Assistant into daily practice, to help doctors and chemists re-evaluate combinations of medicines. The SMESEC project focuses on the development of a cybersecurity toolkit for SMEs.

dr. Marco Spruit
Marco Spruit


The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) has awarded a grant of 475,000 Euros to the OPTICA project. The project focuses on patients with two or more chronical illnesses who use combinations of drugs of which the safety may be difficult to assess. Reviewing medications and understanding their interactions based on a list of diagnoses and drugs is time consuming for general practitioners. Pilot data have shown that a software-assisted method was effective for optimising pharmacotherapy in GP practices.

Spruits role is designing and realising the integration of the STRIP Assistant in Swiss GP practices. The assistant helps general practitioners and chemists re-evaluate the prescribed combination of medicines if the patient is administered five or more different drugs. The project builds on a current project in collaboration with UMC Utrecht, in which the STRIP assistant is being used in a trial with 2000 elderly patients. Spruit explains: “We will use that data to make an artificial intelligence version of the system. The goal is to make it suitable for use by doctors in 2020.”


Despite rising concerns on information security risks, the knowledge level of information security and adoption of privacy standards in SMEs is still relatively low. In the Horizon2020 project SMESEC, a consortium will work on developing a cost-effective cybersecurity toolkit to support SMEs in managing information security risks and threats. The project contains case studies on the subjects of e-voting, smart grids, industrial Internet of Things, and smart cities. The consortium consists of twelve partners from seven countries, involving big companies, SMEs, research centres, and Utrecht University as the only participating university.

“My models are the theoretical basis of the proposal,” says Spruit. “It feels like an enormous appreciation that my research is acknowledged as state of the art.” Spruit’s process models are used to develop quick scans for organisations that want to meet certain ISO standards. “It’s not only about software, but also about human aspects: training, managerial structure, processes, things like that.” By adjusting the models to fit the organisation characteristics, it is possible to make a relatively quick and easy assessment of the aspects that an organisation still has to work on before meeting ISO standards.