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NWO has appointed 14 new Faculty of Impact fellows in the Life Sciences & Health round. This program aims to help scientists bring ground-breaking innovations to the market. Amongst the newly appointed fellows are two UvA Faculty of Science researchers: Olivier Lugier en Ewelina Weglarz-Tomczak

The selected researchers with entrepreneurial ambitions will receive two years of intensive and personal guidance from experts in entrepreneurship, intellectual property and investment. They keep (or get) an appointment at their university for that period, but are exempted from administrative and teaching obligations. This gives them time and space to take their innovation into the world.

Innovative hybrid nanoparticles

Olivier Lugier, researcher at the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, is appointed Fellow based on his proposal ‘Nano Hybrids: Innovative Core/Shell Nanoparticles for Biomedical Breakthroughs’. Nanoparticles are a key enabling technology for the next technological revolution. Core/shell nanoparticles, an advanced type of nanoparticles, demonstrated potential in addressing global health threats like cancer, sepsis or malaria. However, their manufacturing processes rely on lengthy solvent-based methods, lack versatility, and yield contaminated products, hindering clinical translation. Within the UvA’s Functional Materials group Lugier helped develop a new technology supporting the automated and solvent-free synthesis of high-purity core/shell nanoparticles. This innovation allows complex nanoparticles to be produced with tailored properties for specific biomedical challenges and holds the potential for significant societal impact by providing opportunities for innovation in healthcare applications.

In 2023 Lugier won the Amsterdam Science & Innovation Award for his work. He is also founder and CEO of the start-up company Nano Hybrids.

New drugs against Alzheimer’s

Ewelina Weglarz-Tomczak, researcher at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences and founder and CSO of spin-off company  NatInLab, is appointed fellow based on her proposal ‘Novel inhibitors of the lysosomal protease for treatment of Alzheimer’s diseases’. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an age-dependent progressive neurodegenerative disorder which is becoming a healthcare burden of epidemic proportions affecting not only patients but also their families, friends and society as whole. AD causes impaired cognitive function and memory loss, often combined with psychiatric symptoms such as personality changes, and eventually leads to dementia and death of the patient. Inhibitors of the enzyme, which is a key factor in the molecular mechanisms of AD pathologies have been discovered. Weglarz-Tomczak’s goal is to deliver new anti-AD drugs that are curative and safe.