Vici grant for UMCG researchers Marcel van Vugt and Gerard Koppelman

The Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded a Vici grant of a maximum of 1.5 million euros to two researchers from the UMCG. Marcel Van Vugt and Gerard Koppelman can use this to develop an innovative research line and expand their own research over a period of five years.

Cell division in cancer cells

In his study 'An unfinished masterpiece: incomplete DNA duplication as an Achilles' heel in cancer cells' Marcel van Vugt investigates which mechanisms are responsible for repairing the DNA of cancer cells during cell division. “Healthy cells divide in a structured way, while we see that cancer cells divide uninhibited. They make many mistakes in the duplication of DNA, and they often begin cell division while their DNA is not yet fully duplicated. To survive, cancer cells depend on mechanisms that repair this during mitosis.” This study will map the underlying mechanisms and investigate whether these mechanisms can serve as a target for new treatment of aggressive tumor types, such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Van Vugt about the receiving the Vici: “It is a great opportunity to conduct this research at a higher level. The study will take place at the Multidisciplinary Oncology Lab and we will collaborate with various departments of the UMCG and other institutes. Ultimately, we aim to develop better treatments for cancer.”

Early diagnosis of asthma in young children

In his study 'Early diagnosis and targeted treatment of the development of asthma in children' Gerard Koppelman is looking for a method to diagnose asthma in young children at an early stage. It is currently not possible to diagnose or specifically treat asthma in the first years of life. Koppelman wants to change that. “We want to investigate which factors indicate the development of asthma in young children (1-3 years old). In this study, Koppelman is investigating whether it is possible to diagnose asthma at an early stage with a DNA test of nasal cells. In developing new asthma treatments, he focuses on airway cells that are involved in the inception  of asthma. “If we can diagnose and treat asthma at a young age, we hope to prevent the development of the chronic airway inflammation that is present later in life. With the ultimate goal of being able to cure asthma in the future.”

The Vici grant

Together with the Veni and Vidi grants, the Vici grant is part of the NWO Talent Programme. Within the Talent Programme, researchers are free to submit their own subject for funding. This way, NWO stimulates curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative nature of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and possibilities for knowledge utilisation.