Veni grant awarded to six young LUMC researchers

16 July 2019• NEWSITEM

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a Veni grant worth up to 250,000 euros to six promising young LUMC scientists. The grant provides them with the opportunity to further elaborate their own ideas during a period of three years.

The laureates are Erik van den Akker, Nienke de Glas, Irene Hernández Girón, Maartje Huijbers, Bart Pijls and Sophie Schmid. Their projects are described below.

Erik van den Akker (Department of Biomedical Data Sciences): Age-related clonal hematopoiesis: the good and the bad of clonally expanding immune subsets 

Virtually all exceptionally old individuals have an early form of blood cancer, yet, in contrast to middle-aged individuals, they do not seem to suffer from any adverse effects. What is their secret? This study investigates the protective mechanisms that make the extreme old capable to withstand the test of time. 

Nienke de Glas (Department of Medical Oncology): Treatment of older patients with advanced melanoma - Towards personalized medicine

Older patients with cancer are rarely included in immunotherapy trials, leaving oncologists with limited knowledge to make evidence-based treatment decisions. In this project, clinical, geriatric and immunological data will be generated in order to develop a prognostic model for clinical benefit of immunotherapy in older patients with melanoma.

Irene Hernández Girón (Department of Radiology): Through the eyes of AI: safe and optimal integration of artificial intelligence in radiology  

Artificial intelligence will shift the radiology paradigm, supporting and even replacing radiologists in their diagnostic tasks. There is a risk that these technologies are applied without proper knowledge by users. This research will create a framework to validate and safely integrate artificial intelligence in the clinical workflow.

Maartje Huijbers (Departments of Neurology and Human Genetics): Deciphering and targeting pathogenic IgG4 responses

IgG4 is a peculiar antibody. It does not activate inflammatory responses and, in contrast to other antibodies, binds two different antigens. This project will investigate whether the unique properties of IgG4 contribute to the development of IgG4-mediated autoimmune diseases and whether IgG4 immune cells can be therapeutically targeted specifically.

Bart Pijls (Department of Orthopaedics): Besieging the biofilm fortress 

The main problem with infected implants is that microorganisms are organized in a biofilm, a fortress, protecting them against our immunesystem and antibiotics. I will use non-invasive induction heating to kill the micro-organisms and damage the biofilm fortress walls in order to cure the infection.

Sophie Schmid (Department of Radiology): Challenging the elderly brain  

Vascular components contribute significantly to neurodegeneration in the elderly and constitute one of the first changes, long before clinical symptoms become overt. The researcher aims to develop MRI-tools suitable for use in a clinical setting to assess the status of the vasculature in the brain in a non-invasive way. 

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