The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded three promising international researchers a Rubicon grant, which will enable them to conduct research at the University of Amsterdam. Three UvA researchers have also been awarded a Rubicon grant enabling them to gain research experience abroad. A total of 29 promising, young researchers have received funding under the Rubicon programme. The NWO fund offers Dutch researchers who have recently obtained their doctorate the opportunity to gain research experience abroad while NWO offers talented researchers from abroad the opportunity to gain experience in the Netherlands.
The grant recipients are as follows:
- Dr Viviana d'Auria (Urban Studies): Building the city from home space
Urban change in countries located south of the equator calls for a new description. An interdisciplinary analysis of housing transformation in Lima and Accra analyses the practices of residents who have adapted their ‘own space’. The increasing changes contribute to the new description of the city.
D’Auria, who is from the KU Leuven, will conduct her research at the UvA Centre for Urban Studies.
- Elsmarieke van de Giessen (Medicine): Schizophrenia: the imbalanced brain
In schizophrenic patients the region of the brain called the striatum contains increased levels of the chemical dopamine, which may cause psychosis. In addition schizophrenic patients also suffer from problems such as motivational and memory problems. Using brain scans Van de Giessen examines whether the latter problems are caused precisely because of reduced dopamine concentrations in the cortex of the brain.
Van de Giessen will transfer from the Academic Medical Center (AMC-UvA) to Columbia University to conduct her research.
- Dr Rafael Gramage-Doria (Chemistry): Bio-inspired supramolecular architectures for intra-cavity catalysis
In this project Gramage-Doria uses artificial catalysts to design nanocages with peptide interiors to simulate and understand the working principles of natural enzymes. He also specialises in examining new possibilities for regulating the reactivity and selectivity of transient metal catalysts.
Gramage-Doria will move from the University of Strasbourg to the UvA Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) to perform his research.
- Dr Helmer Helmers (History): News exchange and public opinion: the Bohemian revolution in Dutch news media (1618-1621)
International news played a key role in early modern Dutch media. On the basis of an international crisis Helmers examines how and why news was transferred, and how it influenced public opinion in the Republic.
Helmers, who is from Leiden University, will carry out the research project at the UvA Institute of Culture and History.
- Dr Ruth van Holst (Psychiatry): Gambling on dopamine
Gambling is a great way for many people to pass time; yet it forms a serious problem for a small group of people. The feeling of enjoyment when gambling is associated with the release of dopamine in the brain. However, the release of dopamine in gambling addicts would seem to be distorted and they often show compulsive gambling behaviour. There is evidence that gamblers are oversensitive to wins but are desensitised to loss. Van Holst’s research entails examining whether distorted dopamine production applies to pathological gamblers and what the correlation is between reward and loss sensitivity.
Van Holst will transfer from the AMC-UvA to the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University Nijmegen.
- Dr Marijke Maijenburg (Medicine): Embryonic development as the route planner for the production of patient-specific blood stem cells
Some leukaemia patients are unable to find a suitable donor to enable them to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Blood-forming stem cells are a crucial component of such a transplant. In order to produce blood-forming stem cells from a patient’s own reprogrammed stem cells, Maijenburg examines how these are created and how they mature during embryonic development. Maijenburg will transfer from the AMC-UvA to the University of Pennsylvania.