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The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded 14 young post-doctorate researchers a Veni grant in order to conduct research at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) or AMC. The researchers will each receive €250,000, enabling them to conduct research and develop their ideas for a period of three years.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded 14 young post-doctorate researchers a Veni grant in order to conduct research at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) or AMC. The researchers will each receive €250,000, enabling them to conduct research and develop their ideas for a period of three years.

A total of 143 researchers will receive 35 million euros' worth of Veni grants. This is a record figure, as more funds were made available from this year onwards. 2008 saw 116 researchers awarded a Veni grant. This year, a total of 809 researchers submitted a proposal. The 143 winners, including 47 women, were selected on the basis of their striking and original talent for innovative scientific research.

The grant recipients

Non-life: a statistical approach from day-to-day practice - Dr Katrien Antonio (Actuarial Studies)
Healthcare, motor and other ‘non-life insurers' rely on accurate statistical methods in order to estimate their future liabilities. This study will see Antonio assess the development of loss reserving based on techniques used by life insurance actuarial services.

DNA vaccination against tuberculosis - Dr Adriaan Bins (Medicine)
The current tuberculosis vaccine was developed in 1921 and is of limited effectiveness, while tuberculosis poses a huge global health problem. In order to develop a modern and more effective tuberculosis vaccine based around DNA technology, Bins will be working to modify tuberculosis genes for optimal effectiveness in DNA vaccination.

Fighting energy crises with an anti-ageing enzyme - Dr Vincent de Boer (Genetic Metabolic Diseases)
A healthy body uses fat and glucose as a source of energy. Patients unable to effectively burn off fat as a result of hereditary metabolic diseases may benefit from increased glucose metabolism. De Boer aims to establish whether the SIRT4 anti-ageing enzyme can boost glucose metabolism in order to prevent an energy crisis in the body.

New energy for an old disease - Dr Lizzy Brewster (Internal and Vascular Medicine)
High blood pressure is the leading global cause of premature death. However, science has yet to identify the exact cause of this medical condition. Brewster has established that populations with the highest blood pressure levels also yield the fastest sprinters, and is working to determine whether the heightened energy production that allows the human body to sprint also plays a role in the development of hypertension.

Generating fuel from water - Dr Dennis Hetterscheid (Supramolecular Catalysis)
The capacity to generate energy from sunlight is crucial in making the transition to sustainable energy sources. Hetterscheid is working to develop new ways of applying sunlight to convert water into hydrogen, which can then be used as a fuel.

Superconductivity in the Iron Age - Dr Erik van Heumen (Quantum Electron Matter)
The electrons in certain metals are able to travel without resistance (energy loss) at extremely low temperatures. Last year, scientists discovered a new group of (ferrous) materials that also display superconductive qualities at much higher temperatures. Van Heumen is combining various experiments in an attempt to determine how this is possible.

Keeping track of the world with moving eyes - Dr Tomas Knapen (Psychology)
Although we are not consciously aware of the process, our eyes are constantly moving. As a result, the image transmitted to our brain is continually changing. Nevertheless, our perception of the world is stable. Knapen will be using neural scanning technology to establish how our brains achieve this stable perception.

Comparing medical tests- Dr Mariska Leeflang (Clinical Epidemiology)
Medical diagnostic tests are prone to error. These errors are caused by the test itself, or by the patient's characteristics. Leeflang is developing a method that combines the results from previous research in order to select the most appropriate medical test for a specific situation.

Neutron stars with sub-millisecond periods: a new frontier of physics - Dr Alessandro Patruno (Astronomy)
Neutron stars are small objects with a radius of 10 km and a mass comparable to that of the Sun. They contain matter with the highest densities in the universe and rotate up to several hundred times a second. Patruno uses X-ray telescopes to locate neutron stars that rotate more than 1000 times a second and to identify the elementary particles contained within them.

Economic concepts in Dutch novels - Dr Saskia Pieterse (Dutch Studies)
Economic concepts are not limited to the realm of science: many novelists also apply economic insights in innovative ways. In this study Pieterse evaluates eight Dutch novels, ranging from Sara Burgerhart (1782) to De literaire kring (2007).

Reorienting Global Risk Regulation: Matching Regulatory Instruments and Enforcement Capacity in Emerging Market Contexts - Dr Benjamin van Rooij (Law)
Environmental pollution, hazardous working conditions and dangerous foodstuffs; different hazards that are all difficult to monitor and are coming to pose an increasing problem in developing economies such as China, India and Brazil. The major problem in each of these countries is the lack of an effective enforcement structure and the widespread violation of regulations. This research project will see Van Rooij assess which combination of regulations and implementation mechanisms offers the best result under the given circumstances.

Buruli ulcus: an emerging infectious disease - Dr Ymkje Stienstra (Internal/infectious diseases)
Buruli ulcus is what is known as a neglected disease. This invalidating condition causes ulcers and is becoming increasingly common in West Africa. Stienstra's research is aimed at improving treatment methods and developing a diagnostic test.

The influence of the mass media on members of Parliament - Dr Rens Vliegenthart (Communication Science)
Many members of Parliament seem to depend on information from the mass media in order to conduct their day-to-day duties. In a study of several Western European countries, Vliegenthart will seek to establish the conditions under which this dependence is most likely to occur.

When bacteria challenge our immune system - Dr Joost Wiersinga (Amsterdam Center for Infection and Immunity)
Toll-like receptors are proteins that trigger our immune system's response to harmful bacteria. What exactly happens when bacteria intrude our bodies and challenge our immune system? Wiersinga will be working to establish which gene-protein combinations have the capacity to neutralise lethal bacteria such as Burkholderia pseudomallei.

About the Innovative Research Incentives Scheme

The Veni grant is one of three types of grants to be made available as part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research's Innovative Research Incentives Scheme, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and participating universities. The scheme also comprises the Vidi grant (for experienced graduate researchers) and the Vici grant (for highly experienced researchers).