Vidi grants for four LUMC researchers

4 November 2020• PRESSRELEASE

Four LUMC scientists receive a Vidi grant from science funder NWO. These grants of over 800,000 euros are distributed each year to experienced and excellent researchers who carry out challenging and groundbreaking research. Four grants go to LUMC researchers Camiel Boon, Annemarthe van der Veen, Maaike van Putten and Thom Sharp.

Treatment hereditary blindness

Professor at the Department of Ophthalmology Camiel Boon will conduct research into a hereditary eye disease for which no treatment is yet available. This eye disease, X-linked juvenile retinoschisis (XLRS), can cause blindness in children. "I'm going to develop a gene therapy for XLRS using experimental research models such as patient stem cells and animal models. I will do this together with Amsterdam UMC within the NFU Expertise Centre for Hereditary Retinal Disorders," says Boon.

Inflammation without infection

If our immune system is no longer able to distinguish between the body's own molecules and microbial molecules such as viruses, this leads to autoinflammatory disorders. "An inflammatory reaction then takes place without there being an infection", explains Van der Veen, researcher at the Immunology department. "We are going to investigate the causes of such a sterile inflammation".

Dystrophin in the brain

"Many patients with the hereditary muscular disease Duchenne have behavioural and learning problems because they lack dystrophin proteins in their brain," says Van Putten, who works in the Human Genetics department. She wants to use the obtained grant to study cultured human brain cells and find out how the absence of dystrophin leads to behavioural and learning problems. "I also want to investigate whether these problems can be treated by a therapy to restore dystrophin production.” 

Needle in a cellular haystack

"New developments in microscopy allow us to see individual proteins in cells," says Sharp, researcher in the Department of Cell and Chemical Biology. "Cells are only so full of molecules that finding the desired protein resembles looking for a needle in a haystack". In his research, Sharp strives to combine different microscopy techniques to solve this problem. This will answer old immunology questions such as 'how does the first interaction between our immune system and bacteria work'. 

Vidi is aimed at experienced researchers who have carried out successful research for a number of years after their PhD. Together with the Veni and Vici grants, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programme. A total of 81 research projects were awarded in this round.

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