Two researchers of the UMC Utrecht recently received a Rubicon Award from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO): Emiel Post Uiterweer and Sebastiaan van Heesch. NWO assigned the awards to a total of 18 recent PhD graduates to conduct research at top foreign institutes. In this way young scientists get the opportunity to gain international research experience as a stepping stone to a scientific career.

Immune system and pregnancy

At the Department of Pathology of the New York University Medical Center Emiel Post Uiterweer will study how the immune system’s memory cells can be hazardous in pregnancy.  Following an infection, the immune system forms memory cells so that an immune response can occur more quickly next time. Post Uiterweer will study whether activation of these memory cells in the uterus can lead to inflammation or rejection of the placenta thus endangering the pregnancy.

Translating heart failure

Heart problems can be hereditary, but which piece of DNA causes this often remains unknown. Sebastiaan van Heesch from the Hubrecht Institute will examine whether hereditary changes in DNA disrupt the conversion of genes into proteins in the heart and thus contribute to the emergence of heart failure. He will conduct his research at the Max Delbrück Centrum in Berlin, Germany.

The amount of the funding through the Rubicon Awards depends on the destination chosen and the length of stay.