Academy Institutes Research Fund awards funding for fifth time

17 June 2021

Seven new research projects have been awarded a grant from the Academy Institutes Research Fund. These include projects on recording brain activity, the development of family structures in the twentieth century, visual memory of war and mass violence, making research data more readily available, the adaptability of plants and animals in the city, tracing types of cancer and making historical sources digitally available.

Creation of a Large-scale Electrophysiology Knowledge Hub, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

New recording electrodes are revolutionizing neuroscience. These electrodes multiplex the signal from hundreds of recording sites into one output channel and allow neuroscientists to record the activity of massive numbers of neurons simultaneously from multiple brain areas. This gives unprecedented insight into how information is represented and transformed by the brain into behaviour. The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience will set up a centre of expertise for massive-channel neuronal recordings. The centre will aid other laboratories that do not have the required specialist knowledge to record with these new probes and advance this ground-breaking technology.

Stepfamilies then and now: Building a database on children’s experiences of family complexity in the 20th century, NIDI i.s.m. IISG

Stepfamilies are not a modern phenomenon; they were already common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were mainly due at the time to the death of one of the parents. Nowadays, due to an increase in divorces, more and more children live with stepparents for part of their childhood. This project examines this current and historical influence of disruption in the family on children's lives from the child's point of view. The open access database developed in this project facilitates historical and comparative demographic research into the development of family structures. It therefore makes an important contribution to comparative, longitudinal research into family structures by combining different data sets in different time periods: one at the beginning of the 20th century and one at the end. This will provide a better understanding of the impact of family dysfunction on children, generate interdisciplinary cooperation and contribute to the national and international data infrastructure through a unique open-access database.

History’s Darkroom. Imagining and Understanding War, Mass Violence & Visual Culture from WWII to the Digital Age, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Rapid developments in visual technology and digital archives continually change how we experience, see, think about, remember and represent war and mass violence. NIOD’s research programme ‘ImageLab’ will analyse the historical significance and affective force of images developed in the ‘darkroom of history’ and remediated in the digital age. The project will explore the ways in which new technology relates to the visual memory of various wars and genocides in the 20th and 21st century through research that engages critically with images in the WWII ImageBank (‘BeeldbankWO2’), and will produce a case study focusing on these developments in relation to online memory of the Holocaust. By combining the institute’s expertise in visual historical research and exhibitions and its valuable and extensive collections, the ImageLab will generate new research and develop innovative approaches to working with visual collections.

Seamless Integration of Computing and Data in Archives: Tailoring repositories to the needs of research communities, DANS i.s.m. IISG en SURF

Within this project, SURF, IISG and DANS together aim to ensure that FAIR research data is available within the virtual research environment of researchers, initially focusing on the research communities ODISSEI and CLARIAH. They do this by integrating data services at national level, such as services for moving data to and from repositories, versioning services and 'local' analysis tools. Services that ensure that researchers are facilitated in sharing and reusing research data as closely as possible. Needless to say, with a view to security and long-term data preservation. The project is an extension of the NWO report 'Excellent research requires excellent infrastructure', which recognises the growing need of Dutch researchers for digital infrastructures.

Linking space to time in ecology: combining ecological research with museum collection analysis to track urban evolution in plants and animals, NIOO-KNAW i.s.m. het Centre of Excellence for Netherlands Biodiversity Research

The NIOO-KNAW project ‘Linking space to time in ecology to track urban evolution in plants and animals’ aims to understand how plants and animals adapt to city environments. Cities are unique habitats that are a test case of adaptive capacity in a rapidly changing world. The project links ecological analysis along city-rural-natural gradients to the analysis of herbarium and museum samples, to track urban evolution both in space and in time. This approach, which is executed in collaboration with Naturalis and other partners, will be applied to two case studies: environmental adaptation in dandelions and bird responses to pathogens and pollutants.

Deep multiplexed epigenetic profiling of cell-free nucleosomes for early cancer diagnostics in liquid biopsies, Hubrecht Institute

Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the blood originates from dying cells of a natural or pathological source (e.g. tumors). cfDNA therefore holds rich information on a person’s physiological state. For this research project, the Kind group will leverage their expertise in single-cell genomics to develop a novel cancer diagnostic-strategy based on cfDNA-derived epigenetic signatures. In collaboration with the Medema group (AMC), this method will then be evaluated in discriminating various subtypes of colon cancer. The ultimate aim of this project is to establish an easy assay for the highly sensitive early detection of diverse cancer types based on a single drop of blood.

OpenHuygens.nl - Basic facility for the renewal of the humanities, Huygens ING

The Huygens ING has almost two hundred resources relating to Dutch literature, history and scientific history. Together, these sources, texts and data sets form a fundamental part of the digital infrastructure for the humanities, which is used intensively by researchers at home and abroad. OpenHuygens.nl, a new data environment that makes the collection more accessible for innovative, digital applications, allows the Huygens ING to create sustainable access to these important sources for research into Dutch history and culture. The award will enable the Huygens ING to accelerate the transfer of its collection of online resources to OpenHuygens.nl.

About the Academy Institutes Research Fund

The Academy Institutes Research Fund offers institutes the opportunity to implement projects with the aim of strengthening one or more of the three roles that give national added value to a research institute.