"VIDI" grants for four Academy institutes

24 November 2010

Researchers at four different Academy institutes have received a "VIDI" grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Puck Knipscheer (Hubrecht Institute), who was recently also honoured with a Heineken Young Scientist Award, has received the prestigious grant for research on the repair of harmful DNA damage. Alexander Heimel (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, NIN) received his grant to investigate how the brain distinguishes between an object and its background, while Koen Verhoeven (Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NIOO) received his to enable him to study the significance of environmental influences on epigenetic mechanisms in plants. Mariken Teeuwen (Huygens Institute) will use her VIDI grant to study the scholarly annotations in mediaeval manuscripts of classical texts. NWO has allocated VIDI grants to a total of 88 researchers. Each researcher will receive a maximum of EUR 800,000 in order to develop his/her own line of research and to build up his/her own research group.

Understanding how we distinguish between foreground and background

Dr J.A. (Alexander) Heimel (born 1975), Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, NIN-KNAW)
><em>In order to recognise objects or to pick them up, it is essential to be able to distinguish them from their background. How does the brain do this? The researchers aim to answer that question by measuring and manipulating the activity of the nerve cells involved using optical techniques.

Repairing harmful DNA damage

Dr P. (Puck) Knipscheer (born 1974), Hubrecht Institute - KNAW
><em>DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) are a very harmful form of DNA damage. Little is yet known about how the body repairs ICLs. What is clear, however, is that a group of genes are involved that are affected by "Fanconi anaemia" a syndrome that can cause cancer. The researchers hope to discover how these "Fanconi" genes help repair ICLs.

Scholarship in the margin

Dr M.J. (Mariken) Teeuwen (born 1968) Huygens Institute - KNAW
><em>Mediaeval manuscripts of classical texts are full of annotations that have been added in the course of the centuries. Up to now, the scholarship embodied in those annotations has hardly been studied. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of interesting material in the margins of these manuscripts, ranging from discussions of the universe to philosophical ideas about the soul. You can watch a video interview.

Hereditary differences without genetic differences?

Dr K.J.F. (Koen) Verhoeven (born 1970), Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NIOO-KNAW - Terrestrial Ecology)
><em>Hereditary features are embedded in our genes but genes can not only transmit themselves via "epigenetic mechanisms" but also whether they are "on" or "off". These mechanisms respond to environmental conditions. This study involves analysing the ecological and evolutionary significance of this in plants.