6 UMCG researchers receive NWO-Veni of €280,000

NWO has awarded Veni Grants to Lisanne van Dijk (Radiotherapy), Esther Metting (DASH), Felix Poppelaars (Nephrology), Simon Daan Pouwels (Pathology & Medical Biology), Gwenny Verstappen (Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology) and Yingying Cong (Cell Biology) of a maximum of €280,000.

This grant is intended for young, promising scientists to further develop their own research ideas over a three-year period. The Veni Grant is awarded annually by NWO. A total of 89 research proposals were awarded funding. Veni, together with Vidi and Vici, is part of the NWO Talent Programme. 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. 

Below you can read more information about the six research proposals:

Personalizing radiotherapy with Artificial Intelligence: reducing the toxicity burden for cancer survivors

Lisanne van Dijk PhD, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

Many head and neck cancer patients suffer from persistent severe toxicities following radiotherapy. As survival rates increase, toxicity reduction has become more pivotal. This project uses Artificial Intelligence techniques to predict toxicity trajectories, which can facilitate personalized decision-support to guide physicians in finding optimal strategies to reduce these severe toxicities

Reducing health inequalities by opening up E-Health access for digitally non-skilled people

Dr. Esther Metting, University Medical Center Groningen

The healthcare sector increasingly uses E-Health to improve treatment. As a result, the treatment and resulting health of non-digitally skilled persons is lagging behind. Together with COPD patients and care providers, I will develop a method that will enable non-digitally skilled people to benefit from the health advantages of E-Health.

The Complotype, a new criterion for donor-recipient compatibility in renal transplantation.

Felix Poppelaars PhD, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

The inherited set of complement genes is called the Complotype and determines the individual’s ability to activate and regulate their complement system. I will investigate whether the Complotype combination of  donor-recipient pairs predicts long-term prognosis and can therefore be used for donor-recipient pairing in renal transplantation to improve long-term outcomes.

Danger signals released from damaged lung cells trigger extra-pulmonary co-morbidities in COPD patients

Dr. Simon Pouwels, University Medical Center Groningen

I will study the impact of danger signals released from damaged lung cells on other organs, contributing to the development of extra-pulmonary manifestations of COPD. The goal is to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for COPD co-morbidities using a translational approach with large clinical cohorts and advanced 3D models.

How B-cells break bad; unravelling B-cell hyperactivity in systemic autoimmunity

Dr. Gwenny Verstappen, University Medical Center Groningen

Overactive B-cells drive systemic autoimmunity, yet underlying reasons for B-cell hyperactivity remain elusive. This researcher will elucidate mechanisms of B-cell hyperactivity by uniquely combined functional and molecular characterization of B-cell responses in Sjögren’s syndrome, a prototypic B-cell mediated autoimmune disease, to map heterogeneity among patients and identify patient-tailored therapies.

Fighting coronavirus outbreaks

dr. Y. Cong 

Coronaviruses are a recurring threat to human health and the farming industry, and new epidemics will inevitably emerge. This project aims at identifying and characterizing compounds that block the conserved mechanism of viral replication in coronaviruses. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide anti-coronaviral compounds to fight future coronavirus outbreaks.

More information