The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded 166 young scientists with a Veni-grant. The grant provides the researchers with the opportunity to further elaborate their own ideas during a period of three years. Among these are three researchers of the UMC Utrecht Brain Center. It concerns dr. Alex Bhogal, dr. Bart Jongbloets and dr. Wouter van Rheenen.

Dr. Alex Bhogal, ‘The ischemic fingerprint’: A predictive model to grade the viability and reversibility of ischemic brain injury
The mechanisms and metabolic consequences of ischemic brain injury are difficult to investigate using regular brain scans. With this proposal researchers will develop a novel MRI technology, ‘The Ischemic Fingerprint’, which uses advanced MRI imaging techniques to assess the viability and endurance of brain tissue suffering from ischemic injury.

Dr. Bart Jongbloets, Uncovering dopamine signaling in our brain
Chemical signals in our brain, like dopamine, impact drug addicts’ cravings. To intervene with these cravings, researchers need to understand where and how dopamine affects the brain. Using innovative microscopy techniques in understudied brain regions, this project reveals where dopamine signaling occurs and how these signals influence brain cell networks.

Dr. Wouter van Rheenen, Exposing expansions in the genetics of brain diseases
Genes greatly determine our risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and brain diseases. Certain genetic variation, “repeat expansions”, can cause brain diseases, but are hard to study and therefore often conveniently ignored. Using new methods, this research investigates repeat expansions in brain diseases using large groups of patients and brain tissues.