Awards 2011

(NWO) has awarded 32 grants in the programme Investment Subsidies NWO Medium for purchasing equipment and setting up data collections. These research facilities make unique research possible. The total investment is 12.2 million euros. NWO received a total of 82 proposals for this round of Investment Subsidies NWO Medium. Scientists from the Netherlands and abroad evaluated these. Ultimately 32 of the proposals were awarded funding. These fall within six science divisions of NWO: ALW, CW, GW, MaGW, EW, and ZonMw. Physics and STW have different instruments for financing such investments.

Databank about political responsiveness Dr (Christine) Arnold (f) 17-06-1969, Maastricht University - Department of Political Science  
Institutional responsiveness is of considerable scientific and societal importance. The aim of this research project is to construct an integrated and publicly available database with information about the preferences of European electorates, political parties and governments, election results and legislation.

Spinning disc microscope for scrutinising the development of healthy tissue and cancerous tissue  
Prof. (Alain) de Bruin (m) 25-08-1968, Utrecht University – Veterinary Medicine  
In our research we render the development of healthy tissue and cancerous tissue visible. Now we have requested a microscope that rapidly takes pictures without damaging the tissue. This will enable us to study healthy and cancerous tissue in a new manner.

Climate over seasons to millions of years  
Prof. G.J. (Geert-Jan) Brummer (m) 27-08-1957, Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research/VU University Amsterdam  
The scanning of sediment and coral cores with X-rays, ultraviolet light and visible light for climate research is an invention from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research that is now used throughout the world. New developments have made this scanner suitable for highly accurate climate reconstructions from just a few seasons to more than 1 million years.

A database of family genomes  
Prof. C.M. (Cornelia) van Duijn (f) 11-04-1962, Erasmus University Rotterdam Medical Center – Department of Epidemiology  
There is an increasing interest in rare genetic abnormalities with a high risk of disorders. The presence of such variants will be determined in 800 family members characterised for a large number of diseases and stored in a central database for general use.

Filming how DNA is read  
Prof. J.T. (Johan) den Dunnen (m) 05-02-1956, Leiden University Medical Center – Human and Clinical Genetics  
The techniques for reading DNA sequences are developing apace. The requested LRSMS system makes it possible to film how a DNA strand is copied and at the same time to read the DNA sequence. Using this in research and diagnostics will give unprecedented new possibilities.

Sustainable heritage policy  
Dr J. Eidem, Leiden University– Netherlands Institute for the Near East  
The Qala'at Halwanji site was a bronze age fortress established by King Shamshi-Adad. The fort was destroyed by fire in about 1800 BC, but was also partly preserved: the loam fort was baked by the fire. A Dutch-Syrian archaeological team is making exceptional finds there, which can be correlated with the cuneiform texts from the same period.

Molecular imaging  
Dr P.H. (Phillipus) Elsinga (m) 21-07-1961, University Medical Center Groningen –Radiation Sciences  
Molecular imaging has undergone considerable development in recent years. This has led to an explosive growth in the demand for new tracers and an accurate quantification of their kinetics in the target organs. The use of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) can considerably speed up the development of new tracers of preclinical and clinical research.

Optical imaging in 3D  
Dr J. (Jeroen) Essers (m) 20-04-1970, Erasmus University Rotterdam Medical Center – Cell Biology & Genetics  
The use of infrared and visible light for visualising disease processes will lead to a revolution in healthcare over the coming years. Recently developed in vivo fluorescence detection equipment now makes it possible to take 3D images with which disease processes can be analysed more accurately.

Separating molecular complexity  
Prof. B.L. (Ben) Feringa (m) 18-05-1951, University of Groningen – Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences  
Complex molecular structures such as those found in nature pose a huge challenge for synthetic and systems chemistry. Over the last decade we have made enormous progress in the area of catalysis. This means that we are now able to make highly complex natural substances. In this project we now want to take the next step and, making use of the latest developments in separation technology, further develop the important area of molecular complexity.

The dawn of agriculture in Turkey  
Dr F. Gerritsen, VU University Amsterdam  
More than 8000 years ago the first agriculturalists appeared in north-west Turkey. By means of an archaeological excavation, Dutch archaeologists want to investigate the lives of these farmers. Did they form the link between the dawn of agriculture in the Near East and the spread of this through Europe?

Googling tissue down to the square nanometre  
Dr B.N.G. (Ben) Giepmans (m) 23-11-1971, University Medical Centre Groningen – Cell Biology  
Tissues and small model animals will be mapped in considerable detail using a special electron microscope. The data will be made available in a 'Google maps' form for researchers and will contribute to a better understanding, for example, of the cause of diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases and the effective treatment of these.

How do enzymes do their work?  
Prof. M.L. (Marloes) Groot (f) 10-09-1969, VU University Amsterdam  
To gain a better understanding of the design principles of enzymes, we are developing a laser set-up in which we repeatedly allow an enzyme to do its work. We examine whether or not this is successful and which structural changes make the difference.

A pitch-black simulator for an ultrasensitive space camera  
Dr F.P (Frank) Helmich (m) 31-07-1966, Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON)  
Before an SRON camera can be finally launched to orbit in space, it undergoes extensive tests. These are performed in a space simulator, which simulates the darkness and low temperatures out in space. With the financial support of NWO, SRON now has such a simulator and is preparing it for the next mission: SPICA, a collaboration between the Japanese and European space organisations JAXA and ESA.

The virtual identity lab  
Prof. Bernhard Hommel (m) 19-03-1958, Leiden University– Psychology  
Virtual reality and brain imaging techniques are combined with the online registration of actions in order to investigate the interaction between observation and action as the basis for human cognition. This laboratory is a top international research facility and a unique platform for researchers from various disciplines.

Archaeology of Tell Ibrahim Awad II  
Dr W. Hupperetz, Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam  
A team from the Allard Pierson Museum will return to the site where research was previously carried out in the 1990s: Tell Ibrahim Awad in the Egyptian delta. The site is very significant due to its geographical position on the crossroads of trade routes from Egypt to the Levant. Tell Ibrahim Awad was an important centre in the fourth millennium BC and during previous excavations, traces of what is possibly Egypt's oldest temple were found. This grant will enable new research to be carried out at this important and special ancient site.

Cellular clock processes unravelled in full colour  
Dr R.A. (Roelof) Hut (m) 28-08-1966, University of Groningen – Centre for Behaviour and Neuroscience  
Biological clock cells regulate our diurnal rhythm using clock genes and clock proteins. Extremely sensitive, innovative microscope technology maps this network of genes and nerve cells by marking the cell function with colours, while light-emitting proteins can be read as hands of the clock.

Fuel from sunlight  
Dr J.T.M. (John) Kennis (m) 01-06-1968, VU University Amsterdam – Physics  
We will build an advanced laser system to simulate the sun. With this laser we can study and improve artificial solar cells, which just like plants and algae produce fuel from sunlight.

The SciLens infrastructure for data-intensive research  
Prof. M.L. (Martin) Kersten (m), CWI  
E-Science research is based on the collection and analysis of large quantities of data. A crucial aspect is the database management system which must be able to cope with an input of many gigabytes per day while at the same time being able to rapidly and interactively answer complex search operations. The SciLens infrastructure provides a basis for validating this research on algorithms and system architectures with real-life applications from, for example, astronomy and seismology.

Breathtaking MRI  
Dr D.W.J. (Dennis) Klomp, (m) 09-09-1974, University Medical Center Utrecht – Radiology  
Magnetic field disturbances caused by breathing, for example, can be prevented thanks to a new dynamic SHIM system with field sensors. With this piece of equipment the university medical centres in Utrecht and Leiden expect to be able to use their high-field MRI for high-resolution detailed imaging within the human body.

Fluorescence microscope for research on dynamic protein behaviour  
Dr C.P.M. (Carlo) van Mierlo (m) 18-11-1959, Wageningen University and Research Centre – Laboratory for Biochemistry  
This fluorescence microscope can simultaneously pick up several light signals from biological preparations. The microscope will be used for research into protein folding, protein complex forming and protein transport in living cells.

Legal agreements between divorced parents  
Dr A. (Anne-Rigt) Poortman (f) 28-08-1972, Utrecht University – Sociology/ The Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology  
How do parents arrange their divorce from a legal viewpoint? Do they stick to the agreements and for how long? Which factors play a role in the choice for certain arrangements? And what are the consequences for parents and children? These are key questions in a unique collection of data about divorced families.

Prof. S.F. (Simon) Portegies Zwart (m) 21-04-1965, Leiden University – Leiden Observatory  
Large-scale calculation forms an increasingly important aspect of scientific research. Computers are continuously becoming quicker and more accurate but are also increasingly difficult to use efficiently. Yet at the same time the demand for large calculations is increasing. With the AMUSE project we are developing a scientific programming environment in which we can make efficient use of the latest computers to perform our scientific calculations. AMUSE is a variety of existing scientific programs with a homogenous and well-defined interface, in which it is possible to link up existing programs for the first time.

A thermometer for the past  
Dr G.J. (Gert-Jan) Reichart (m) 30-10-1966, Utrecht University – Earth Sciences  
In its geological past, the earth has experienced many climate changes. With the new equipment we can measure fossil chemical compounds from which the temperature can be reconstructed more accurately than ever before. From this we can learn what the natural variation in temperature has been on the earth.

Deuterium level of fossil molecules  
Prof. S (Stefan) Schouten (m) 15-07-1966, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research – Marine Organic Biogeochemistry  
We can the stable isotopes mass spectrometer we have received to accurately measure the quantity of deuterium in fossil molecules. This will provide unique information about past ocean currents, precipitation and humidity, the methane cycle and microbial metabolism.

The heat of self-assembly investigated  
Prof. R.P. (Rint) Sijbesma (m) 06-07-1962, Eindhoven University of Technology – Chemical Technology  
In this project we wanted to accurately measure the heat effects in the assembly of biofunctional and biologically-inspired systems. That will enable us to better understand, manage and ultimately improve the functioning of these systems.

The brain stimulated  
D.F. (Dick) Stegeman (m) 09-03-1951, Radboud University Nijmegen – Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition & Behaviour  
The Donders Institute for Neurosciences of Radboud University Nijmegen has equipment that can be used to externally stimulate the brain. This can be used to investigate how the brain works. However, it can also be used to change the activity of the brain for a period of time and that might even find therapeutic applications.

Challenging proteins in three dimensions  
Dr A.C. (Anke) Terwisscha van Scheltinga (f) 20-08-1968, University of Groningen – Biophysical Chemistry  
Membrane proteins and protein complexes play important roles in many biological processes. Although they can often only be isolated in microgram quantities, it is still possible to determine the molecular structure of these proteins by using specialised equipment for their purification, characterisation and crystallisation.

New younger generations of young seniors in the 21st century  
Prof. T.G. (Theo) van Tilburg (m) 21-09-1956, VU University Amsterdam – Sociology  
Young seniors have plenty of time and opportunities to remain happily active for a long time in society. But for how much longer? And does that apply to all social groups? We will investigate how current and future generations will spend their early older years.

Transnational comparative research into colonial architecture  
Dr C. Wagenaar, Delft University of Technology  
This project intends to make a large quantity of data about Dutch colonial architecture accessible so that insights can be acquired into the history of colonial architecture and contacts with other empires. Furthermore, this project will serve as a basis for heritage management; the preservation and study of the monuments at their location.

Digital image analysis determines choice of therapy for breast cancer  
Dr J. (Jelle) Wesseling (m) 20-11-1964, Netherlands Cancer Institute /Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital – Pathology  
An increasing number of biomarkers, which are determined on tumour tissue, predict the sensitivity to treatment for breast cancer. Using the SlidePath software, biomarkers can be analysed in a more reliable manner. This will lead to a more efficient choice of therapy that is better tailored to the individual patient.

Linguistic competence  
Prof. F.N.K. Wijnen, Utrecht University  
This research will make it possible to gain new insights into the development of language competence; about the competence in the mother language in various phases of life and about how language is acquired and lost.

Cryo-electron microscopy as a new diagnostic tool  
Dr H. (Heidi) de Wit (f) 4-09-1974, VU University Amsterdam/NCA, Functional Genomics  
The VUmc Electron Microscopic Centre uses innovative cryo-electron microscopy techniques to diagnose pathological abnormalities in cells from patients with Alzheimer's, cancer and heart failure. Ultrastructural insights in 3D shall, for example, contribute to the search for new drugs that can restore pathological abnormalities in the intracellular architecture.