16 July 2019

Eight Veni grants for young UM scientists

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a Veni grant to eight young, highly promising UM scientists. In total 166 young scientists receive a Veni grant worth up to 250,000 euros. The grant provides the laureates with the opportunity to further elaborate their own ideas during a period of three years.


Photo's: 1st line from left to right: dr. Kei Long Cheung, dr. Rachel ter Bekke, dr.ir. Alma Mingels and dr. Sarah-Anna Hescham - 2nd line from left to right: dr. Marlies Gijs, dr. ing. Christian Herff, dr. Conny Quaedvlieg and dr. Lilian Tsourdi.

Maastricht University congratulates the following eight UM laureates:

Dr. ing. Christian Herff (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences): Decoding Speech from Minimally-Invasive Brain Signals.
Millions of people worldwide suffer from disabilities that hinder their ability to speak. A prosthesis directly translating brain activity into audible speech could enable these people to communicate with friends and family. Herff aims to demonstrate the feasibility of such a prosthesis using a minimally invasive measure of brain activity.

Dr. Sarah-Anna Hescham (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences): Minimally invasive, nanoparticle technology for neuromodulation.
Deep brain stimulation is an effective therapy in neurological and psychiatric patients. The procedure is invasive and requires the implantation of electrodes in the brain, which are wired to a pacemaker. This research aims to make deep brain stimulation wireless by the use of nanoparticles.

Dr. Kei Long Cheung (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences): New approach to tailoring in dHealth interventions: application of recommender systems. Tailored digital health interventions base their algorithms on (theoretical) assumptions.
Accordingly, these rule-based systems are limited in addressing the complex and individual change process. This research investigates the effectiveness and user-experience of a data-driven recommender system, which tailors health messages by identifying patterns based on the similarity of other users.

Dr. Conny Quaedflieg (Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience): Remember to forget your fears.To some extent, we can all choose what to remember and what to forget. Stress-related disorders are characterized by deficits in this so-called intentional mnemonic control. This research shows how stress impacts the brain to disrupt intentional memory control of fears and uses non-invasive brain stimulation to counteract these disruptions.

Dr. Lilian Tsourdi (Faculty of Law): Policy Implementation and Solidarity through EU funding.
Effective implementation and inter-state solidarity remain elusive in migration. EU migration funding could contribute in addressing these problems but is ill designed. Using an original combination of legal and empirical analysis, this project analyses why, advances knowledge on the multi-level nature of the European administrative system, and formulates proposals for reform.

Dr. Marlies Gijs (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences): Smart tears: Tears to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
Cerebrospinal fluid analysis of disease-specific molecules (biomarkers) supports the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, but sampling requires invasive procedures. This research investigates whether tears contain the same (and new) information in order to diagnose the disease non-invasively and more easily in general practice.

Dr. ir. Alma Mingels (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences): First aid for a heart attack: towards a specific diagnostic tool in the blood circulation. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is diagnosed by detection of cardiac troponins in the blood. Unfortunately, the introduction of high-sensitivity techniques has come at the cost of specificity. Mingels will investigate new tools to specifically detect the acute phase of myocardial infarction and clarify minimum release of cardiac troponins.

Dr. Rachel ter Bekke (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences): Mechanics matter: high-resolution electromechanical mapping to unravel ventricular tachyarrhythmias.
It is generally perceived that abnormal electrical impulses per se can provoke life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. However, the heart senses mechanical impact, and mechano-electric coupling can also trigger arrhythmia. This research will highlight the important influence of mechanics on the occurrence of ventricular ectopy and tachyarrhythmias.


NWO's Talent scheme
Together with Vidi and Vici, Veni is part of NWO’s Talent Scheme. Veni is aimed at excellent researchers who have recently obtained their doctorate. Researchers in the Talent Scheme are free to submit their own subject for funding. NWO thus encourages curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use.