Gravitation grant of 21.9 million euros for research into how brains function

Researchers from Radboud University are involved in various projects that receive a 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, at the Faculty of Science and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. The researchers will receive a grant of 21.9 million euros for the next 10 years.

Materials for the quantum age

Silicon transistors are at the core of our information society. Demand for more powerful forms of calculation and information processing is rising sharply. The aim of this research is to provide new materials with stable quantum states that will greatly increase the power of existing ways of processing information while at the same time making them more energy efficient.

'We all know that in practice due to the increasingly high intensities of data-flow, data centres are now becoming the biggest consumers of the electricity world-wide,' explains Alexey Kimel, one of the researchers attached to the project. 'It sounds paradoxical, but it seems that according to the fundamental laws of physics it should be possible to process and store information with nearly no energy costs. We are thrilled that with the help of this program we can explore this paradoxical field of so-called quantum materials.'

'The Institute for Molecule and Materials, its world-leading expertise and facilities in advanced spectroscopy of quantum matter will play in the program one of the central roles. Aiming to resolve the paradoxes in fundamental physics and explore the poorly understood quantum materials we strongly believe that what seems to be impossible now will be turned into a benchmark for future technology.'

Utrecht University is the main applicant for “Materialen voor het quantumtijdperk” (Materials for the quantum age). Several researchers from the Institute for Molecules and Materials from Radboud University are involved, among them Misha Katsnelson, Alexey Kimmel and Alex Khajetoorians. The project will receive a grant of 21.5 million euros for the next 10 years.


Cells are the basic units of life. Although cells have been studied extensively, we know very little about how they organize themselves into tissues and how molecular processes within cells enable tissue organization. The IMAGINE! program brings together biologists and technology developers to study and manipulate cells in both healthy and diseased tissue. The program will provide important knowledge and tools for regenerative medicine, the treatment of diseases and the repurposing of existing drugs.

Utrecht University is in the lead for the "IMAGINE!" project, which is directed by Anna Akhmanova. From Radboudumc, Peter Friedl/CellBio, Annemiek van Spriel and Martijn Verdoes are involved in this project. The consortium will receive a total of 20.8 million euros.

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. Radboudumc is also involved with the project as part of a consortium of psychologists, sociologists, pediatric psychiatrists and neuroscientists. 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.

For more information, please contact

  • Radboud University Science Communication, media [at], +31 (0)24 361 6000

Contact information

Brain, Molecules and materials