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Nearly €19 million from NWO for development and study of “organs-on-chips”

May 2017 – Organs-on-chips: miniature organs for research purposes It may sound futuristic, but it is now possible to create miniature versions of patients’ organs to study the development and treatment of diseases. This is what researchers from Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), University of Twente (UT), Technical University (TU) Delft, the Hubrecht Institute, and Cisca Wijmenga of the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG) aim to achieve in the next ten years. Together they’ve been awarded nearly €19 million by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to work on this innovative project. The funding comes from the Dutch Gravitation programme. See more about

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Cisca Wijmenga appointed to new Lodewijk Sandkuijl chair

1st Nov 2017 – Cisca Wijmenga has been appointed to hold a new chair installed by the University of Groningen in memory of Lodewijk Sandkuijl (1953-2002), who helped lay the foundations of statistical genetics. He conceived and developed methods to unravel the hereditary factors involved in complex diseases. See an obituary published in AJHG in 2003. Prof. Wijmenga says ‘Statistics plays a large part in genetic research. It is needed to work out which part of the DNA is linked to a particular disease when studying family trees. ‘Lodewijk Sandkuijl, a doctor who had retrained as a statistician, was there

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ERC Starting grant for Sasha Zhernakova

In Sept. 2016 Dr. A. (Sasha) Zhernakova was awarded an ERC Starting grant to study: “ The role of the virome in shaping the gut ecosystem during the first year of life”. She will study the development of gut flora in newborns. At birth, babies have a limited number of bacteria and viruses in their guts. These increase during the first twelve months, eventually forming a stable colony of gut flora (the microbiome). She will try to discover how the viruses and bacteria develop and how this affects babies’ health. She will study both genetic factors and environmental factors, such as diet, vaccinations

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Spinoza award for Cisca Wijmenga

At NWO’s Bessensap event on 12th June, it was announced that Cisca Wijmenga is one of four NWO Spinoza prize winners for 2015. The NWO Spinoza prize in brief The NWO Spinoza prize is the highest award in the Netherlands science arena and can be seen as the ‘Dutch Nobel Prize’. Each year, NWO awards Spinoza prizes to three or four researchers working in the Netherlands who, according to international standards, belong at the very top of their scientific field. NWO Spinoza laureates perform ground-breaking research that has a major impact and they are a source of inspiration to younger researchers. The prize winners

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Harm Jan Westra awarded a Rubicon grant

Harm Jan Westra has been awarded a Rubicon grant by NWO for a project proposal entitled “Localizing autoimmune disease alleles to CD4+ cell state-specific regulatory regions”. He is currently working as a postdoc in Boston under Dr Soumya Raychaudhuri, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is the only UMCG recipient of a Rubicon in this round.

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Lude Franke awarded ERC Starting Grant (€1.5m)

New ‘big data’ approach to identify environmental risk factors for disease Lude Franke (Department of Genetics, UMCG) has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant (€1,500,000) to identify new environmental risk factors for immune diseases. Many diseases have a genetic background but other environmental risk factors (such as viral or bacterial infections) must also play an important role. However, for most diseases these environmental risk factors are still unknown. In this project Lude Franke will identify these risk factors by using large amounts of genetic and gene expression data to study the interplay between genetic risk factors, the role of different

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Lude Franke appointed associate professor

The Department of Genetics is pleased to announce that as of 1st July 2014, Lude Franke has been appointed as an associate professor. We congratulate him on his new position. On behalf of the Management Team, Cisca Wijmenga, Head of department (N.B. This level is equivalent to UHD/adjunct hoogleraar in the Dutch university system or senior lecturer in the British system.)

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The genetics of coeliac disease

Read an interview with Cisca Wijmenga about some of her work. She “is fascinated by the study of coeliac disease; here, she discusses her close connection to the history of the field, the changes brought about by new sequencing methods and the importance of collaboration”. Read about:   Navigating the non-coding regions of the genome  –  Genome of the Netherlands   —  Non-coding RNA  –  Coeliac disease the facts  –  Genetic risk profiling The project “Coeliac disease: from lincRNAs to disease mechanism (CD-Link)”  is supported by an ERC Advanced Investigator grant. By Josh Gabbatiss. Published courtesy of International Innovation – a leading scientific dissemination service. Link to full

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BBMRI-NL2.0 awarded €9.8 million

BBMRI-NL2.0: building on the Dutch biobank On Tuesday 1st July, BBMRI-NL2.0 was awarded €9.8 million as part of the National Roadmap of Large Research Infrastructures. It is one of six facilities receiving a grant from NWO. The award was announced during a ceremony at Leiden University Medical Centre. Professor Cisca Wijmenga (UMCG) is director of this large-scale biobanking project. (BBMRI stands for Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure) BBMRI-NL will join forces with EPI2 and CTMM-TraIT in July 2014  │   BBMRI-NL embarks upon its second phase: BBMRI-NL2.0 The new endeavour will comprise BBMRI-NL and all the biobanks connected with it.

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Dutch genome deciphered

The family tree of the Dutch people has been deciphered by researchers at 5 Dutch universities under the leadership of Prof. Cisca Wijmenga of the UMCG in Groningen. The early history of the Dutch can be re-written and diseases can be better predicted. The research is described in a Nature Genetics article published yesterday. `Paul de Bakker, Cisca Wijmenga and colleagues report on The Genome of the Netherlands Project, including whole-genome sequencing of 769 individuals of Dutch ancestry from 250 parent-offspring families and construction of a phased haplotype map. Their intermediate-coverage population sequencing data set provides a complementary resource to

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