Vici fellowship for biochemistry professor Patricia Dankers

Science financier NWO has awarded Vici grants worth up to 1.5 million euros to 34 researchers. Of the 266 applications, 13 percent were successfull, slightly more than in 2021. One of the Vici grants went to TU/e; Professor of Biomedical Materials and Chemistry Patricia Dankers won it.

photo Hans Dirksen

The Vici grant will enable the recipients to carry out research for five years. The fields covered include how galaxies are formed, the effect of traumas among refugees on their ability to learn the Dutch language, and the collaboration between nerve cells and immune cells in eliminating inflammatory pain. Patricia Dankers plans to use her Vici grant to create an artificial version of the material that surrounds cells in the human body. She is doing this within the so-called SupReMa project.

Dankers, who already received a Veni and a Vidi grant in 2008 and 2017 respectively, now completes the "hat trick" with the Vici grant. She also has both an ERC starting grant and an ERC proof-of-concepts grant to her name, as well as the KNCV Gold Medal (2020) and the Ammodo Science Award (2021).

Innovative line of research

Most of the grants are going to researchers in the exact and natural sciences (12), followed by the domains of social sciences and humanities (11), healthcare research and medical sciences (7), and applied and technical sciences (4).

The Vici grants are part of NWO’s talent programme. They are intended for senior researchers with their own innovative line of research in which young researchers also take part. The Vici grant will enable them to build their research group further.

A frequently heard criticism of the talent programme is that it demands a great deal of time and effort of researchers to write research proposals, the majority of which will not be successful. This time, 13 per cent were successful, as against 11 per cent in the Vici round of 2021.

NWO also considers that too little. “We want 25 per cent of the grant applications in open competition and in the talent programme to be awarded grants”, NWO chair Marcel Levi said last year. “That’s a lot. In some programmes we are currently closer to 10 per cent.”

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