NWO Groot funding for Leiden scientists

Four Leiden scientists are the main applicants for projects that have been awarded an NWO-Groot grant of up to 3 million euros in the Science domain. In addition, several Leiden scientists are involved in other projects that have been awarded funding.

The new NWO Domain Science started in 2017. The domain set up various project fundings in the open competition for curiosity-driven, non-programmed fundamental research. In this first funding round of NWO Open Competition Domain Science – Groot a total of 92 pre-proposals were submitted. Thirty consortia were allowed to further elaborate their proposal. The domain board has now awarded 20 project proposals funding, as a result of which an award rate of 21.7 percent was achieved. Half of the domain-wide selection committee consisted of women and four of the consortium awarded funding have a female main applicant.

Projects with main Leiden University as the main applicant

Resolving the fundamental building principles of the genome

It is increasingly becoming clear that the spatial structure of DNA within a cell is of crucial importance for its function. All DNA-based processes (reading, copying, repair) are tightly interconnected with the three-dimensional organization of chromosomes. Here, we will investigate the basic fundamentals of chromosome structure across all domains of life (in bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes), as well as the interrelation between the chromosomal structure and gene activity, from the test tube to live cells. These studies aim to unravel the design principles of chromosomes and uncover how genome architecture can impact on the establishment of transcriptional programs in health and disease.

Main applicant: Remus Dame (LIC)

The Active Matter Physics of Collective Metastasis

During the early stages of metastasis, clusters of tumor cells combat a series of hurdles to dissociate from the primary tumor, navigate complex surrounding tissues, and enter the circulation in order to reach distant organs. In this program, we map this journey by integrating theoretical models with experimental cell biology, biophysics, and tumor biology. We aim to identify the physical/mechanical parameters that regulate collective behavior of tumor cells during these first steps of the metastatic cascade, and deliver insights for rational design of new therapeutic intervention strategies.

Main applicant: Erik Danen (LACDR)

Also involved: Thomas Schmidt (LION), Luca Giomi (LION)

Single Cell Microgel embedded iPS-cells to map molecular variability of cell differentiation using a systems biology approach (SCI-MAP)

To alleviate the burden of age-related chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis, there is an urgent need to direct regeneration of tissues. In this respect, human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS-cells) are anticipated as a game-changer. IPS-cells can make, on demand, any required tissue. However, creating tissues using iPS-cells is currently an uncontrollable, heterogeneous process, which hampers clinical application. SCI-MAP is designed to map and understand key modifiable factors that direct and maintain iPS-cell differentiation into stable, tissue specific, cells. Knowledge acquired within SCI-MAP will pave the way for development of effective regenerative therapies in osteoarthritis and beyond.

Main applicant: Ingrid Meulenbelt (LUMC)

Crossing over from the quantum world to the classical world and back

What is a measurement? Quantum mechanics led to a revolution in our understanding of nature and in practical applications. Despite this progress there remains the question of how the classical world emerges from the underlying quantum physics. This research project aims at providing experimental input to this fundamental question by studying macroscopic quantum superpositions.

Main applicant: Tjerk Oosterkamp (LION)

Also involved: Dirk Bouwmeester (LION)

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