€3.4 million for open chemical research in TOP and ECHO

31 January 2018

NWO has awarded two TOP grants and seven ECHO grants to leading researchers in the field of chemistry. These TOP grants are each worth €780,000. The successful candidates will conduct research into energy generation mechanisms in living cells, and into ways of improving the efficiency of fuel cells through the use of platinum catalysts. The ECHO grants, each worth €260,000, are for projects ranging from research into antibiotic resistance to research into the effects of gene regulation with the aim of improving our understanding of cancer. During this TOP/ECHO round (the third such round in 2017), the programme committee assessed 30 proposals for ECHO grants and 6 proposals for TOP grants.

The TOP grants were awarded to Ulrich Brandt (Radboud University Medical Center) and Marc Koper (Leiden University). The ECHO grants went to Wilbert Bitter (VU University Medical Center), Toon de Kroon (Utrecht University), John van Noort (Leiden University), Romano Orru (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Christian Ottmann (Eindhoven University of Technology), Wiktor Szymanski (University Medical Center Groningen) and Marcellus Ubbink (Leiden University).

Click here for summaries of the recently awarded TOP and ECHO grants.

TOP grants are intended to enhance or expand innovative lines of research carried out by established leading research groups. ECHO grants offer researchers the opportunity to develop creative, risky ideas that could form the seed for future research themes.


A total of 81 ECHO proposals and 19 TOP proposals were submitted in response to the 2017 TOP/ECHO call. In all, 34 ECHO proposals and 9 TOP proposals were assessed in the first two assessment rounds. A total of 30 ECHO proposals and 6 TOP proposals were assessed in the third round. The remaining 17 ECHO proposals and 4 TOP proposals for 2017 will be assessed in the fourth assessment round.

TOP/ECHO submission deadline is 1 May 2018

Researchers have until 14:00 CE(S)T on 1 May 2018 to submit proposals for TOP grants and ECHO grants. The office will deal with these proposals in order of receipt. Several rounds are expected to start before 1 May. The total available budget for the TOP grants and ECHO grants to be awarded in 2018 amounts to approximately €7.1 million. 

Domain-wide free competition for the exact and natural sciences

From 1 August 2018, researchers will be able to submit proposals for two new funding instruments from NWO Domain Science. The upcoming free competition will include two domain-wide instruments for innovative and curiosity-driven fundamental research: one instrument for small-scale projects and investments and another for large-scale projects.
Read more

TOP grants

  • Ulrich Brandt (RUMC) - Molecular mechanism and regulation of energy conversion by mitochondrial complex I
  • Marc Koper (LEI) - Structural Evolution of Electrocatalyst Surfaces in Action

ECHO grants

  • Wilbert Bitter (VUMC) - Understanding the permeability of the mycobacterial cell envelope using the antibiotic teixobactin as a probe
  • Toon de Kroon (UU) - How does yeast rewire lipid metabolism to make the essential membrane lipid phosphatidylcholine redundant?
  • John van Noort (LEI) - Linking Transcriptional Bursting to Chromatin Structure
  • Romano Orru (VU) - Sustainable One-pot Syntheses of High Value Heterocycles using Isocyanides as C1 Building Block
  • Christian Ottmann (TU/e) - Stabilization of protein-protein interactions; alternative modulation of Nuclear Receptors via 14-3-3 proteins
  • Wiktor Szymanski (UMCG) - Structural (photo)pharmacology of glutamate transporters
  • Marcellus Ubbink (LEI) - Evolutionary adaptability of β-lactamase: Generating resistance against inhibitors

Source: NWO