News | 23 July 2019

Veni grants for Maastricht UMC+ scientists

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a Veni grant to six young, highly promising Maastricht UMC+ 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.

About Veni
The Veni is awarded by NWO every year. A total of 1,151 researchers submitted an admissible research proposal for funding. 166 of these have now been granted. That comes down to an award rate of 14%. The submissions were assessed by means of peer review by external experts from the disciplines concerned. In this Veni funding round, NWO is investing a total of 41,5 million euros in free and curiosity-driven research.

About the laureautes:
Dr. ing. Christian Herff: 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. 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.