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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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UMCG Research prize to Lude Franke

The UMCG Research prize was awarded to Lude Franke at the New Year Reception, held on January 6th. This is in recognition of his achievements over the past few years: gaining an ERC starting grant, an NWO-VIDI, and publishing many papers in top journals. For more information see his personal page

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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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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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2 VIDI grants awarded

May 2014: NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) has awarded VIDI grants to Jingyuan Fu for her project on “Understanding the causal relationships between the host genome, microbiota and lipids” and to Lude Franke for his project on “A novel approach to understanding how DNA variants cause disease”. (1) Understanding the causal relationships between the host genome, microbiota and lipids - Dr. Jingyuan Fu Lipid composition varies widely between human individuals and is associated with many diseases. Numerous studies have shown that the lipid composition can be affected by an individual’s genetic make-up and intestinal microbial composition. Over millions of years, microbes and humans have formed a truly symbiotic relationship.

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