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Along side a gravity grant of 23.23 million for research into a 'brain atlas' for psychiatric symptoms, under UvA's penmanship, UvA scientists participate in three other consortia that have received a Gravity Grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. These are research projects 'Challenges in Cyber Security', the Nano-electrochemistry institute and the use of AI to design therapies for blindness.

23.23 million for development of ‘brain atlas’

The Institute for Chemical Neuroscience (iCNS) will receive 23.23 million euros out of the program. The money will be used for the development of a 'brain atlas' of psychiatric symptoms. This should pave the way to improving the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders such as depression, frontotemporal dementia and multiple sclerosis. The research will be conducted by a national consortium of universities, UMCs and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, led by the UvA.

21.5 million for ‘Challenges in Cyber Security’

Cyber security is often portrayed as an educational problem or a resource problem, shifting blame on users, system administrators, or the budget holders limiting the system administrators’ abilities. However, there are many hard problems that remain unsolved and that require a coordinated scientific investigation. The “Challenges in Cyber Security” project brings together top researchers from the hard sciences areas of cyber security to tackle these hard open problems. It is led by Eindhoven University of Technology and has been rewarded 21.5 million for a 10-year program. UvA-scientists Christian Schaffner, Zoltan Mann, Francesco Regazzoni, Kostas Papagiannopoulos and Karst Koymans from the Informatics Institute are also involved in the project.

Schaffner: ‘I’m really excited to get started with this big cybersecurity project. Together with the other consortium partners from TU/e, VU, RU and CWI, we are taking a systematic approach to make sure our cyber systems are secure. For example, we address long-term security by looking ahead to the time when quantum computers could break the encryption that keeps our online data safe right now. Even though that might be years away, bad actors could collect encrypted information today and crack it open later when they have the right tools. So we’re getting ahead of the game to protect our data for the future.’

22 million: AI to help design new therapy for blindness

Blindness is among the top 15 most disabling conditions. The Lifelong VISION programme, led by RadboudUMC will receive EUR 22 million from the programme. Lifelong Vision is developing a new generation of treatment strategies to prevent blindness: gene therapy, treatments targeting disease mechanisms, and cell therapy. Who qualifies for these treatments is determined by using artificial intelligence so that the right patient gets the right treatment at the right time. The innovative technologies and strategies being developed for eye diseases serve as a model for other diseases and organs. The researchers in this consortium want to repair broken genes, print a new retina with a bio-printer and find out how zebrafish manage to repair their own retinas.

UvA-scientist Clarisa Sanchez (Informatics Institute) is involved in the research. Sanchez: ‘I’m looking forward to starting this project, revolutionizing the battle against blindness with a panoramic and innovative approach. The consortium's dual focus is formidable: firstly, to pioneer novel treatment strategies capable of combating the disease across its various stages. Secondly, through the power of artificial intelligence, we will tailor bespoke treatments to each patient, aligning their individual disease trajectory with the most effective intervention available. This project represents a fusion of unparalleled expertise, which I’m excited to be part of, laying the groundwork for a future where blindness prevention becomes a reality, delivering precisely targeted therapies at precisely the right moment for every patient.

About the Gravitation programme

The Gravitation programme is financed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The Dutch Research Council (NWO) selects the research groups on behalf of the OCW. The funding allows researchers to conduct 10 years of high-level university research and to collaborate on an interdisciplinary basis. One of the pillars of the programme is cooperation across disciplines and universities. The scientists jointly set up excellent scientific research programmes.

In total the seven consortia will receive Gravitation grants amounting to more than 160 million euros. 

23.6 million for nano-electrochemistry institute

The Dutch consortium ‘Advanced Nano-electrochemistry Institute Of the Netherlands (ANION)’ has been awarded Gravitation funding of 23.6 million euros by the Dutch Research Council NWO. The van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) at the University of Amsterdam is one of the partners in this consortium, which is led by Leiden University. ANION will focus on research into electrochemical processes that are crucial to the energy transition. From UvA, Peter Bolhuis, Amanda Garcia, Evert Jan Meijer, Bernd Ensing, Sander Woutersen en Emilia Olsson are involved.

Bolhuis: 'Although electrochemistry has been around for a long time, there are many blind spots in our knowledge of what goes on at the nanoscale. ANION is going to change that. I look forward to working intensively with the other partners in the consortium to gain this fundamental knowledge, lay the foundation for new efficient energy transition technologies, and train a new generation of researchers in electrochemistry.'