Independent journalism about VU Amsterdam | Since 1953
18 April 2024

& Education

Many Vici grants for women, VUmc gets one

Out of the 35 Vici grants awarded to top researchers by science funding body NWO today, twenty have gone to women. Researcher Frances Handoko-de Man of Amsterdam UMC is among the recipients.

The Vici grant worth a maximum of 1.5 million euros is intended for ‘advanced’ scientists, giving them the opportunity to work on a five-year project with their research group. Research topics include new batteries without rare metals, the source of allergies in children, major cultural transformations in the Middle Ages, and the origins of life on Earth.

Frances Handoko-de Man, principal investigator at Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc, receives a Vici grant for her research on the lung condition pulmonary arterial hypertension. With this disease, there are constrictions or blockages in the pulmonary artery, which can eventually lead to heart failure. Handoko-de Man will research the role of the immune system in this.

AI is popular

A lot of money is going to AI research as well: one grant recipient wants to harness its computing power to gain “transformative insights” in mathematics and physics; another wants to use it to investigate how our brain makes predictions. A third wants to deploy AI for making more reliable literature reviews in science.

Two Vici grants have been awarded to scientists at the Leiden Observatory who intend to research “mysterious supermassive black holes” and stellar winds that carry away exoplanetary atmospheres.

Women more successful

For this Vici round, NWO received 337 pre-proposals. 110 researchers were allowed to draft an elaborate application and 11 percent ended up getting a grant. Last year, 13 percent of the requests were honoured.

With twenty Vici grants, women researchers are well-represented this year. Men submitted more proposals, but were less successful: 8 percent was awarded a grant, versus 14 percent of the women.

Recently, three professors calculated that the chances of securing a Veni grant for recently graduated PhDs has historically been higher for women than for men. It would appear that NWO overshot its target of eliminating the disadvantage for women, the trio asserted. They were unable to demonstrate this for the Vici grant.


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