Doctor researcher Wouter van Rheenen has received the Niels Stensen Fellowship award. Since the 1960s, the Niels Stensen Fellowship has been awarded annually to outstanding researchers who recently received their PhD to enable them to gain research experience at a top university or institute abroad.

Wouter is very excited about this opportunity. “This fellowship will allow me (and my family) to visit the Program for Complex Trait Genomics at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) located at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) of the University of Queensland for 9 months. This group, led by Naomi Wray, Peter Visscher and Jian Yang, is specialised in method development to understand the genetic basis of complex traits. During my visit, I will focus on modifying and applying methods to dissect the genetic architecture of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal neurodegenerative disease. I aim to answer the question how many genetic variants play a role in ALS and what characteristics they have in common in terms of frequency and effect-size. This knowledge will improve future study design to more efficiently find the genetic determinants of ALS risk. My aim is to generalise my work so it can be applied to other complex traits as well.”