Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Gravitation grant of 21.9 million euros for research into how brains function

Date of news: 2 May 2022

Several Donders Institute researchers are involved in various projects that receive a prestigious grant within the Gravitation programme of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Over the next 10 years, these consortia will receive tens of millions of euros for interdisciplinary research into brain disorders, quantum technology and more.

Projects within the Gravitation programme (or the 'Zwaartekracht' programme in Dutch) rank among the world’s best in their respective research fields or have the potential to do so. The grant will allow researchers to conduct top-level academic research and to cooperate in a multidisciplinary manner. One of the pillars of the programme is cooperation across disciplines and universities.

The Dutch Brain Interfaces Initiative

In order to understand how the brain works, we need to understand how each part, from neurons to brain regions, interacts with the rest of the brain and with the outside world. The aim of this research is to develop principles, equipment and methods to consider these interactions and thus gain a better understanding of brain disorders, as well as moods, emotions and compulsions.

Radboud University is the main applicant for “The Dutch Brain Interfaces Initiative”. The project is led by Francesco Battaglia, Professor of Neuronal networks of Memory. Among others, he is supported by Marcel van Gerven, head of the Artificial Intelligence department at the Donders Institute. The researchers will receive a grant of 21.9 million euros for the next 10 years.

Growing Up Together in Society

The goal of this project is to understand how young people grow up in increasingly complex societies and make contributions to society: the researchers will study individual neurobiological development in relation to educational processes, social networks, and societal norms, including antisocial behavior. The project will integrate neuroscience with individual and environmental factors to develop an integrative framework on self-regulation development and contributions to society that will have explanatory as well as predictive power across multiple domains of functioning in adolescence and early adulthood.

'Growing Up Together in Society' (or GUTS) is led by Eveline Crone of Erasmus University Rotterdam. The Donders Institute is also involved with the project as part of a consortium of psychologists, sociologists, pediatric psychiatrists and neuroscientists. Donders chair Barbara Franke is one the Principal Investigators responsible for the project at the Nijmegen campus. The project will receive 22 million euro.

About the Gravitation programme

The Gravitation Programme is being conducted by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. During this funding round, the Dutch Research Council (NWO) received 40 applications, of which seven were awarded funding today. In total, they will receive over 142 million euros in grants.

Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (Education, Culture and Science) ‘Top-level international research requires peace and quiet. Through this substantial boost, we are offering long-term prospects and adequate funding to outstanding research groups that are working together. Researchers in these scientific consortia, who rank among the world’s best in their field, can use Gravitation to work on their ground-breaking research.