Awarded funding in Gravitation call 2018-2019

Six consortia with top researchers from different Dutch universities have received a total of 113.8 million euros to carry out scientific research programmes in the coming years. The Minister for Education, Culture and Science (OCW), Ingrid van Engelshoven, made these funds available for research consortia that are among the best in the world in their field in carrying out groundbreaking research.


BRAINSCAPES: A Roadmap from Neurogenetics to Neurobiology

Main applicant: Prof. dr. D. Posthuma (VU Amsterdam)
Co-applicants: Prof. dr. A.B. Smit (VU), Prof.dr. H.D. Mansvelder (VU), Prof.dr. E. Hol (UU), Prof.dr. R.J. Pasterkamp (UU), Prof. dr. B. Lelieveldt (UL)
Institution acting as official secretary: VU Amsterdam

Amount awarded: 19.6 million euros

Recent genetic discovery studies have provided unprecedented insight into the genes involved in brain disorders. The next step is to use this knowledge to acquire mechanistic disease insights. In BRAINSCAPES we will develop novel analytic and experimental tools to study the functional consequences of risk genes on the function of specific cells, their circuits and functional output. We aim to provide insights into the molecular and cellular basis of complex brain disorders, which can be used to design novel treatments.

Harnessing the second genome of plants. Microbial imprinting for crop resilience (MiCRop)

Main applicant: Prof. dr. ir. H.J. Bouwmeester (University of Amsterdam)
Co-applicants: Prof.dr. M. Dicke (WUR), Prof.dr. E.T. Kiers (VU), C.M.J. Pieterse (UU), Prof.dr. J.M. Raaijmakers (NIOO-KNAW and UL), Prof.dr. C.S. Testerink (WUR)
Institution acting as official secretary:  University of Amsterdam
Amount awarded: 20.3 million euros

Plants recruit and nurture billions of microbes on their roots. In return, the root microbiome supports the plant by improving the uptake of nutrients, enhancing tolerance to environmental stress and providing protection against pests and diseases. MiCRop will unlock how plants under stress recruit these beneficial root microbes. We will harness the yet unknown plant and microbial traits that facilitate this interaction, and translate their potential for the development of next-generation, stress-resilient crops that require fewer fertilisers and pesticides.

New Science of Mental Disorders

Main applicant: Prof. dr. A.T.M. Jansen (Maastricht University)
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. M. Kindt (UvA), Prof. Dr. R.W.H.J. Wiers (UvA), Prof. Dr. B.M. Elzinga (UL), Prof. Dr. A.J. Roefs (UM), Prof. Dr. A. Evers (UL)
Institution acting as official secretary: Maastricht University

Amount awarded: 19.3 million euros

Worldwide, one in four adults and one in ten children suffer from mental illness at any given moment. Mental illnesses cause considerable suffering, and our best treatments only work for about 40% of patients. We think that mental illnesses reflect dynamic and complex networks of interacting symptoms. The proposal is to study the complex dynamics of these networks, the transdiagnostic processes that drive the connectivity between symptoms, and the effect of network-based interventions tailored for the individual patient.


Main applicant: Prof. dr. ir. R.C.H. Vermeulen (Utrecht University and University Medical Center Utrecht)
Co-applicants: Prof. dr. M.-P. Kwan (UU), Prof. dr. T. Hankemeier (UL), Prof. dr. A.P. Zhernakova (RUG), Prof. dr. ir. J.W.J. Beulens (Amsterdam UMC), Prof. dr. D.E. Grobbee (University Medical Center Utrecht)
Institution acting as official secretary: Utrecht University
Amount awarded: 17.4 million euros
Where you live and work, what you eat and drink, how often you exercise, and other choices that you make in your (daily) life influence your health. Whether or not you develop certain chronic diseases is in fact conditional upon these factors for seventy percent. The combination of these factors is called the exposome. We still know little about that exposome and therefore about the development of chronic diseases. In the Exposome-NL project, we will apply innovative techniques to investigate which factors of the exposome are important for health and how these work.

Hybrid Intelligence (HI): augmenting human intellect

Main applicant: Prof. dr. F.A.H. van Harmelen (VU Amsterdam)
Co-applicants: Prof. dr. M. de Rijke (UvA), Prof. dr. C.M.J. Jonker (TUD), Prof. dr. M. Welling (UvA), Prof. dr. L.C. Verbrugge (RUG), Prof. P.Th.J.M. Vossen (VU)
Institution acting as official secretary: VU Amsterdam
Amount awarded: 19.0 million euros

Hybrid Intelligence (HI) combines human and artificial intelligence. Six Dutch universities will develop theories and methods for intelligent systems that cooperate with humans, that adapt to dynamic circumstances and that can explain their actions. Ethical and legal values, such as transparency, accountability and trust, will be taken into account during the design of such HI systems. We will demonstrate applications of HI systems in healthcare, education and science to show the potential of artificial intelligence to amplify human intelligence instead of replacing it.

Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies

Main applicant: Prof. dr. P.A.E. Brey (UT)
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. ir. I.R. van de Poel (TUD), Prof. Dr. I.A.M. Robeyns (UU), Prof. Dr. S. Roeser (TUD), Prof. Dr. ir. P.P.C.C. Verbeek (UT), Prof. Dr. W.A. IJsselsteijn (TUE)
Institution acting as official secretary: University of Twente
Amount awarded: 17.9 million euros

This philosophical research programme will develop new approaches to deal with social and ethical challenges brought about by emerging socially disruptive technologies (SDTs), such as robots, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and climate technology. SDTs will change society, culture and everyday life, and also challenge some of our most basic concepts and values. We will innovate the ethics of technology so that we can critically evaluate and guide the development and introduction of these technologies.


Anko Wiegel Anko Wiegel +31 (0)70 3440644