Vici grant for AMOLF Professor Gijsje Koenderink

AMOLF group leader Gijsje Koenderink receives an NWO Vici grant of 1,5 million euros for her research on how cytoskeletal teamwork makes cells strong.

02/28/2019 | 4:14 PM

Gijsje Koenderink is head of AMOLF’s Living Matter research department and group leader of the Biological Soft Matter group. In addition, she is professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Vici is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands and targets advanced researchers. NWO awards the grant to 32 leading scientists. Koenderink is thrilled to receive the grant that enables her to carry out her research plan. Elaborating on her research plans she says: “We know that living cells can deform themselves during processes such as cell division, yet resist deformation by imposed mechanical forces. We intend to investigate the mechanisms behind this paradoxical behaviour by rebuilding the protein skeleton of the cell and measuring its mechanical properties. The results will reveal the molecular basis of cell mechanics and provide inspiration for future life-like materials.”

32 scientists to receive NWO Vici grants
32 leading scientists will each receive 1.5 million euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This Vici grant will enable them to develop an innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years. Vici is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands and targets advanced researchers.

The scientists conduct research in different fields. Indeed, the Vici grant gives scientists the freedom to propose their own research project for funding. The Vici laureates will examine how living cells handle stress, whether a computer can predict illnesses and what kind of an impact the emergence of co-parenting and new forms of relationship will have on children and parents. Other research will examine whether stem cells can change sex and which genes can be activated for that purpose. Researchers are also going to develop a new microscopy method to examine molecular structures a millionth of a millimetre large. These are merely a selection from the various research topics.

Of the 239 proposals, 88 (37%) were submitted by women and 151 (63%) by men. Overall, 11 female candidates and 21 male candidates were awarded a grant. The award rate is therefore 13 and 14 per cent respectively.

The Vici grant targets highly experienced researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative lines of research, and to act as coaches for young researchers. Vici provides researchers with the opportunity to set up their own research group, often in anticipation of a tenured professorship. The Vici grant is one of three funding instruments within the Talent Scheme. The other two instruments are the Veni grant (for recently graduated PhDs, up to 3 years after graduation) and the Vidi grant (for experienced postdocs, up to 8 years after graduation).