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Six UvA and Amsterdam UMC (location AMC) researchers who recently received their doctorates have been given Rubicon grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This allows them to conduct research at a research institution abroad and thus gain international experience.

The recipients

Yasmine Liu (Medicine): Boosting De novo NAD+ synthesis to promote hepatic health

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is crucial for healthy liver function, but levels of NAD+ drop in fatty liver disease. Liu discovered that inhibiting the enzyme ACMSD boosts NAD+ biosynthesis in the liver. She will investigate whether inhibiting ACMSD can help manage these diseases.

Liu will leave for the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland) for a period of two years.

Joyce Man (Medicine): How to silence an X chromosome?

How female cells shut down one of their two X chromosomes has been a mystery for decades. Researchers have identified a key player in X-chromosome inactivation called SPEN. Man’s project will elucidate SPEN’s mechanism of action in X chromosome-wide silencing.

Man will leave for the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg (Germany) for a period of two years.

Iris Pit (Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics): Synthetic chemicals as a cause of biodiversity loss

European rivers contain mixtures of synthetic chemicals from wastewater discharges but the effect of synthetic chemicals on biodiversity is unknown. Discovering to what degree and which synthetic chemicals cause biodiversity loss will assist water quality management towards a toxic-free environment.

Pit will leave for the Department of Environmental Science of Stockholm University (Sweden) for a period of two years.

Dragana Stojmenovska (Sociology): Why has the gender pay gap stopped decreasing?

After decades of progress toward gender earnings equality, the gender pay gap has stopped decreasing. Stojmenovska will use longitudinal big data from the Dutch population registers and quantitative methods to look for the causes of this stalled progress.

Stojmenovska will leave for Sociology Department of New York University (US) for a period of two years.

Josephine Tan (Medicine): Energy-burning fat cells originating from smooth muscle cells

There are two types of fat cells: those storing energy and those burning energy. Generating more “energy burning” fat cells can aid the fight against obesity. Tan will study mechanisms through which smooth muscle cells transition into energy-burning fat cells.

Tan will leave for the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania (US) for a period of two years.

Vera Wiersma (Medicine): Out of my phase! Protein aggregation in ALS pathogenesis 

Cells dynamically concentrate proteins in liquid droplets. These droplets are handy, but possibly also risky, as they can change into solid protein clumps. Wiersma studies the liquid-to-solid phase transition of the ALS-protein TDP-43 in cultured human brain cells.

Wiersma will leave for the University of Zurich (Switzerland) for a period of two years.

About Rubicon

NWO received applications from 76 researchers in this round and awarded funding to 24. The amount of funding depends on the chosen destination and the length of stay.

Read the NWO news release about all of the awards in this round (in Dutch).