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The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded Veni grants worth up to €250,000 to 17 UvA and AMC-UvA researchers who recently obtained their doctorate. The grants give promising young scientists the opportunity to further elaborate their own ideas over a three-year period.


The Veni laureates will conduct research on a variety of subjects including schizophrenia treatment, mobile apps, female politicians in the media and mobile pathogenicity chromosomes.

The NWO awards Veni grants every year. 1,127 researchers applied for funding for a research project, and of these, 154 have now been awarded a grant.


Academic Medical Center (AMC-UvA)

  • Dr Jan Willem Duitman (Medicine): How MMP-1 aggravates pulmonary fibrosis
    Pulmonary fibrosis is a severe and deadly lung disorder of unknown aetiology with limited treatment options. Recent data suggest that a protein called MMP-1 is detrimental for this disease. Jan Willem Buitman will investigate the underlying mechanism by which MMP-1 aggravates disease progression and whether targeting MMP-1 may have clinical relevance.
  • Dr Elsmarieke van de Giessen (Medicine): Predicting the right treatment in schizophrenia
    20-35% of patients with schizophrenia don’t respond to antipsychotics and are treatment resistant. This is recognised as a significant problem. The researchers will test whether a novel MRI scan and plasma measure can predict treatment resistance in order to provide these patients with appropriate treatment at an early stage.
  • Dr Balthasar Heesters (Medicine): How do vaccinations work?
    By iterative selection of the best antibodies, the immune system acquires more specific antibodies. This is why some vaccines work so well. By unravelling the exact mechanism of selection, Balthasar Heesters hopes to understand why some vaccines work better than others and use the obtained knowledge to improve vaccination.
  • Dr Judy Luigjes (Medicine): Treating compulsive behaviour by improving confidence calibration
    It is unknown why patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and pathological gambling persist in their debilitating compulsive behaviours. Research suggests that the inability to accurately estimate confidence about a choice could be key. Judy Luigjes will investigate how confidence contributes to compulsive behaviours and how to treat them by improving confidence estimation.
  • Dr E. Edwin van der Pol (Medicine, Biomedical Engineering & Physics): Trace hidden fingerprints of diseases
    Cancer, cardiovascular disease, and preeclampsia can be predicted earlier by minuscule ‘fingerprints’ that are hidden in blood. In this project, Edwin van der Pol will develop technology to rapidly trace these fingerprints and predict disease at an early stage.

Faculty of Economics and Business

  • Dr Pauline Rossi (Economics): The rich have money, the poor have children
    Pauline Rossi will explore how people make decisions about the number of children to have and how much to spend on their children’s health in Africa. She will discuss the implications for population growth.

Faculty of Humanities

  • Dr Anne Helmond (Media Studies): App ecosystems: a critical history
    Mobile apps have become an important form of digital media. However, researchers know little about how they have evolved over time. This project aims to develop novel digital methods for writing histories of single apps, a collection of apps, app stores and app ecosystems.
  • Dr Lukas Verburgt (Philosophy): A new theory of revolutionary scientific change
    Thoroughly grounded in original case studies drawn from the Second Scientific Revolution, this projects offers a new theory of the rationality of revolutionary scientific change by bringing together recent trends in the history and philosophy of science with key insights from contemporary philosophy.
  • Dr meLê Yamomo (Theatre Studies): Listening to Modernity in Southeast Asian early recordings
    The experience and understanding of modernity are often thought of as something seen or read. This project considers how modernity was heard and listened to in Southeast Asia through the arrival of early sound technologies from 1890 to 1950.

Faculty of Law

  • Dr Anniek de Ruijter (European Law): EU constitutional framework for responding to human health disasters
    Today, our interconnected world creates significant opportunities for the devastating effects of (deliberate) biological and chemical health threats. The EU is increasingly powerful in warding off these emergencies. This research aims to improve the EU constitutional order for responding to these major health threats.

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

  • Dr Kobe De Keere (Cultural Sociology):
    Hiring on taste: revealing the hidden power of cultural capital within occupational recruitment procedures                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Selecting the right candidate for a job is a difficult process, characterised by much insecurity and the outcome of which often seems unpredictable. This project aims to investigate, in a comparative manner, how important the role of cultural capital is in order to be successful during job selection procedures.
  • Dr Maarten Marsman (Psychological Methods): The psychometrics of learning
    Researchers have successfully uncovered major phenomena in educational measurement, but have neglected to explain why these effects occur. A new theory of cognitive development explains the observed phenomena and provides crucial insights into how education can overcome undesirable effects.
  • Dr Daphne van der Pas (Political Science): Do female politicians talk differently? Or do journalists hear different things?
    Female politicians often receive different media coverage from their male colleagues. Why is this? Are journalists making judgements based on gender, or are female politicians presenting a different image to the media? This project studies how male and female politicians present themselves, how the media covers them, and why.
  • Dr Fabio Wolkenstein (Political Science): Democratising Europe Through Transnational Partisanship
    How can citizens overcome the power of elites? By organising, of course. This project explores a mode of popular organisation which promises to help ordinary citizens gain democratic control of the EU: transnational partisanship. The project clarifies what transnational partisanship is, why it matters and how it may succeed.

Faculty of Science

  • Dr Alexandre Belin (Theoretical Physics): What conditions should a unified theory of Quantum Gravity satisfy?
    Quantum mechanics and general relativity are two fundamental building blocks in our understanding of physics. Merging them is one of the greatest challenges of modern physics. Using the holographic duality, Alexandre Belin proposes a systematic study to identify the criteria a unified theory of quantum gravity must satisfy.
  • Dr Like Fokkens (System Biology): The costs and benefits of mobile DNA on pathogen evolution
    Fungal pathogens increasingly threaten our health and food security. In some fungal pathogens, pathogenicity chromosomes move and combine in the population. Like Fokkens will investigate how obtaining a mobile chromosome influences the recipient genome in order to better assess what contribution mobile chromosomes make to the emergence of new fungal pathogens.
  • Dr Michael Walter (Theoretical Physics): Quantum bits in space and time
    Physicists have recently discovered clues that space and time are held together by quantum entanglement, the mysterious resource that powers quantum computers. Michael Walter will develop theoretical tools to subject these ideas to stringent tests and shed new light on the fabric of space-time.

Talent scheme

Veni grants are part of NWO’s Talent Scheme, together with Vidi and Vici. Veni grants are aimed at excellent researchers who have recently obtained their doctorate. The Talent Scheme allows researchers to submit their own research topic for funding. NWO thus encourages curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use.