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Three researchers from the UvA and the Amsterdam UMC (location AMC) have received Vici grants from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Population biologist Merijn Kant, oncologist Louise Vermeulen and immunologist Klaas van Gisbergen will each receive a maximum of €1.5 million euros. The grants will enable them to develop innovative lines of research and set up their own research groups over the next five years.

The Vici grant is one of the largest personal scientific grants in the Netherlands and is intended for advanced researchers. NWO's grant schedule is slightly different this year than usual. The awards announced today relate to part of the 2021 Vici round, from the domains Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES) and Health Research and Care Innovation (ZonMw). A total of 91 applications were submitted within these scientific domains, of which 12 were successful. The Vici awards from the domains Exact and Natural Sciences (ENW) and Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) are expected in mid-March.

The recipients

  • Dr Merijn Kant (Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics): Anticipating pest formation using smart resistance genes
    Pest formation is elusive. In this project Kant will make pest formation in agriculture predictable. Using "co-evolution in a petri dish", Kant will first develop smart resistance genes and then map out the spectrum of adaptations with which the pest can break through these resistances. He wants to demonstrate empirically that such smart resistance genes can be used to anticipate and prevent pest formation on crops.
  • Prof. Louis Vermeulen (Amsterdam UMC, location AMC): Outcompeting cancer – Prevention is better than cure
    Cell competition plays an important role in cancer initiation. The focus of Vermeulen’s project is to better understand and manipulate cell competition in the earliest stage of cancer development, to be able to prevent the disease. Future patient care of heritable cancer syndromes can be shifted from treatment to prevention.
  • Dr Klaas van Gisbergen (Sanquin/Amsterdam UMC, location AMC): Immunological memory of the tissues
    T-cells are crucial for immune defence to protect against re-infection and tumour challenge. Van Gisbergen’s project aims to understand how T-cells develop and function in the tumour microenvironment. The knowledge gained will contribute to the development of therapies employing these T-cells in combatting cancer.