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.