Rubicon grants for two UM researchers

Sandra Schipper and Mark van den Hurk, who both took their PhD in December 2016 at UM's School for Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNs), received a Rubicon grant from research financing institution NWO. This grant gives young, highly promising researchers the opportunity to gain international research experience. In this funding round 22 researchers received a grant. With her grant Sandra Schipper will conduct research during 24 months at the department of Nanotherapeutics of the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) in Aachen (Germany). Mark van den Hurk will spend 24 months at the Laboratory for Human Neurophysiology and Genetics of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

At the German RWTH, Sandra Schipper will study selective brain cooling for neuromodulation. She is working on a project that develops and tests a new treatment method for neurological diseases, such as epilepsy, which are quite common and difficult to treat. For this purpose, she makes use of nanoparticles that attach to cells and are subsequently cooled.

With his research Mark van den Hurk wants to unravel the predisposition to depression in patient-specific neurons. At the SAHMRI in Australia, he will use revolutionary technology to reprogramme skin cells into neurons. Via this reprogramming, he will produce brain cells from skin biopsies of patients with depression to explore the genetic predisposition for depression, and to study the modes of action of antidepressants using advanced cell molecular analysis methods.


With a Rubicon grant, researchers can conduct research at a foreign research institute. The size of the grant depends on the destination chosen and the length of stay (max. 24 months).  The Rubicon programme is named after the river Julius Caesar crossed after his series of victories, which ultimately led to his declaration ‘veni, vidi, vici’. NWO chose the name Rubicon in 2005 for its individual grant programme aimed at retaining talented researchers, who have recently gained their PhD, in science. In this round, a total of 78 researchers submitted a proposal for the Rubicon grant. The 22 researchers who received a grant will go to the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Belgium.

For detailed information about the Rubicon grants, visit the NWO website.

Also read

  • Placeholder

    Bread, brain and bowels

    Our daily bread is increasingly considered problematic. Gluten sensitivity is a complex phenomenon and while there’s nothing wrong with avoiding gluten, it is a serious restriction and not always necessary. Daisy Jonkers and Marlijne de Graaf researched the effect of expecting to consume gluten –...

  • Nozizwe Dube’s life reads like a novel. The 27-year-old was born in Zimbabwe and, at the age of 14, was reunited with her refugee mother in Belgium. Determined to fight injustice, she became the chair of the Flemish Youth Council within just a few years. She is now a PhD candidate at the Faculty of...

  • A stop to migration? Setting aside the nitrogen regulations? Radically countering internationalisation in higher education? Politicians regularly make great pronouncements. To what extent are these promises realistic? Dr Karin van Leeuwen, lecturer of European Political History at the Faculty of...

More news