Image as an illustration for vici prizes
Image as an illustration for vici prizes

Vici grants for brain research, language technologies and genetic disorders

Five scientists from Radboud University and RadboudUMC are receiving a Vici research grant from the Dutch research organisation (NWO). Floris de Lange, Marius Peelen, Marc Dingemanse and Jop Kind of Radboud University and Alexander Hoischen of RadboudUMC can use this grant to do further research in their respective fields.

This Vici grant will allow the researchers to conduct research and set up their own research group in the next five years. The NWO is awarding a total of 35 Vici grants this year. The recipients from Radboud University and Radboudumc are: 

Reconstructing the predictive architecture of the mind and brain 

Floris de Lange, Donders Institute 

Our brain makes predictions about the future based on what it knows. However, what the brain actually predicts has remained largely unclear. This requires examining prediction in the real world, which is much more complex than typical lab experiments. This research will use new tools from artificial intelligence to examine how our brain makes predictions in real-life situations, how our brain is wired to do this, and how this affects our behavior, like what sparks our curiosity. By understanding this, we hope to achieve a richer understanding of how our brain works in naturalistic conditions. 

Seeing and thinking: Interplay between externally and internally generated neural representations 

Marius Peelen, Donders Institute 

Many people think in pictures. Can this occur together with the processing of visual information? By using neuroimaging methods, behavioral experiments, and a bicycle simulator, the researchers will reveal how the brain combines seeing and visual thinking, how people differ in this ability, and why we it can be difficult to rapidly switch between seeing and thinking, for example as a result of aging. 

Futures of language  

Mark Dingemanse, Faculty of Arts 

Language is possibly humanity’s greatest invention, and likely the most adaptable. This project studies language as it adapts to major sociotechnical transitions. We start from the global linguistic diversity that represents humanity’s many parallel presents and futures: a possibility space of artisanal language technologies. We investigate how interactive interfaces exploit this substrate, some of them slick and coercive, others more rigid and clunky: the future is now, and it is in need of fundamental scrutiny. And we theorize and imagine futures of convivial language technology in which human agency and linguistic diversity are not curbed, but preserved and enhanced. 

SOLVE-IEI: Solving Enigmas of Undiagnosed Inborn Errors of Immunity 

Alexander Hoischen, RadboudUMC 

Genetic disorders where the immune system is impaired (Inborn Errors of immunity: IEIs) lead to frequent infections, but if there is overactivity this also causes damage to the body. For IEIs up to 80% can be treated once the genetic basis is known. Currently, the discovery rate for IEIs is slowing because research groups as well as diagnostic labs mostly rely on the same set of technologies and bioinformatic approaches. SOLVE-IEI will find new causes of IEIs by smart analysis of existing data, by applying completely new DNA technologies, and by testing of the immune cells from blood of patients. 

In addition, Jop Kind has also been awarded a Vici grant from the NWO. The project runs through the Hubrecht Institute, but Kind is also affiliated with Radboud University as professor by special appointment. 

Recording the past, understanding the present, predicting the future: charting the multiscale organization and function of spatial genome-organization across developmental time 

Jop Kind – Faculty of Sciences 

Every cell contains 2 meters of DNA that needs to be condensed into the tiny space of a cell’s nucleus. This organization is unique to every cell and for new traits to arise different regions of the DNA need to become accessible and active. With this proposal we will investigate the coordination of this dynamic process by implementing new sensitive methods to study these events in single cells. This knowledge is essential to yield understanding of the mechanisms by which new cells arise during development and what the processes are that may result in establishing pathologies like cancer. 

Contact information

For further information, please contact one of the researchers involved or team Science communication via +31 24 361 6000 or media [at] (media[at]ru[dot]nl).   

Behaviour, Brain, Innovation, Language, Health & Healthcare