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Vidi grants for 12 researchers from Leiden University

An impressive 12 researchers from Leiden University have been awarded an 800,000-euro grant by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). This will enable them to develop their own line of research over the next five years.

The Vidi grant is for researchers who have already conducted several years of research following their PhD. The Vidi, together with the Veni and Vici grants, is part of the NWO’s Research Scheme, which aims to give innovative research a boost. This year a total of 101 researchers have been awarded a Vidi grant. The 12 project by Leiden researchers are described below.

American foreign policy and liberalism - Andrew Gawthorpe

Historians and specialists in international politics often write about how the United States helped to build an international order based on liberal politics and economics after World War 2. But is this what American leaders actually set out to do? In this project Andrew Gawthorpe aims to show that the commitment of postwar American leaders to liberalism was always mixed with other concerns, like expanding American power or protecting racial inequality at home. 

Violence in prisons - Esther van Ginneken

Why do violent prison incidents occur? Esther van Ginneken will answer this question by investigating the circumstances leading up to violent incidents, including the motivation of perpetrators. She will develop and use new methods to study prison violence, with the ultimate goal to improve the safety of prisoners and staff.

A Study of the Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics of the Past in Video Games - Angus Mol

Increasingly, we experience the past not through textbooks, museum visits, or even television, but through video games like Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield. In this project a team of game and heritage researchers will undertake the first comprehensive study of how these ‘playful time machines’ reshape our relationship with the past.

Making finance sustainable? A comparative perspective on investment politics - Natascha van der Zwan

Despite increasing legislation and regulation for the financial sector, large investors such as pension funds or insurance companies are still guided by profit motives rather than environmental sustainability. Natascha van der Zwan will compare the inner workings of financial systems in different European countries and to find out which institutional frameworks and policy processes best encourage large investors to invest sustainably.

The enigmatic triangle of cluster headache, sleep and the biological clock - Rolf Fronczek

People with cluster headache suffer from such excruciating pain attacks that the disease has often been called ‘suicide headache’. As the attacks often strike during sleep, patients desperately beg for normal night-rest. Rolf Fronczek will clarify how cluster headache attacks are related to sleep and the biological clock; and whether two therapies that specifically work on this can give people with cluster headache a good night’s sleep again.

Exploiting gamma-delta (gd) T cells as innovative agents of cancer immunotherapy - Noel de Miranda

Cancer immunotherapy makes use of cells or molecules from our immune system to fight cancer. It is a very successful strategy to treat cancer but not yet effective in the majority of cancer patients. Noel de Miranda’s project aims at exploring the potential of a type of immune cell (gamma delta (gd) T cell) that shows great promise as a novel immunotherapeutic agent.

A gut feeling about rheumatoid arthritis - Diane van der Woude

Diane van der Woude’s project will shed light on the role of gut content (such as food and microbes) in driving the immune system further down the path towards rheumatoid arthritis. This will provide clues as to whether in the future, a change in diet or a new treatment to modulate gut content, may be able to prevent this disease.

Combined imaging for ocular oncology - Jan-Willem Beenakker

Jan-Willem Beenakker will develop new technologies to combine photographs of the inside of the eye with three-dimensional imaging, as is used for radiotherapy planning. To achieve this combined image, the researchers will develop methods to correct for the aberrations introduced by the eye’s optics. By combining these imaging techniques, the researchers aim to further improve therapy for ocular oncology so patients preserve more visual function after therapy.

Identification of Targets for the Antibiotics of the Future - Stephan Hacker

Antibiotics with novel modes-of-action are urgently needed. To efficiently identify new target proteins for antibiotics, Stephen Hacker will develop innovative compounds that strongly engage proteins through chemical bond formation. Using these compounds, they will comprehensively understand, which binding sites in pathogenic bacteria can be targeted with antibiotics. In this way, they will deliver many starting points for the development of antibiotics with novel modes-of-action.

Protein Dress Up gone wrong - Monique Mulder

The disruption of the complex system behind the modification of proteins could lead to diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration. Monique Mulder aims to develop chemical tools to finally unravel the workings of these systems paving the road toward medical treatment.

Pushing the frontier of hybridization: unlocking hidden eco-evo dynamics through Environmental DNA (eDNA) - Kat Stewart

Invasive hybridisation is a common cause of global biodiversity loss. Kat Stewart aims to optimise DNA collected from the environment (eDNA) as a tool to understand the causes and consequences of hybridisation between native and invasive species. The knowledge gained can be used to manage invasion dynamics and mitigate future hybridisation.

Arithmetic intersections of geodesics - Jan Vonk

Geodesics describe the shortest path between two points on a curved surface, like trajectories of airline flights travelling across the globe. Vonk will use new techniques in algebra to understand how special geodesics cross each other, or collide, and applies these insights to resolve currently open questions in number theory.

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