Annemieke Aartsma-Rus, Patricia Dankers, Lisa Herzog, Walter Immerzeel, Rivke Jaffe, Christian Lange, Floris de Lange and Louis Vermeulen are the winners of an Ammodo Science Award 2021. Ammodo made the announcement today. The eight mid-career scientists will each receive a cash prize of 300,000 euros. They can use this money in the coming years to explore new avenues in fundamental scientific research.


Director Juliette de Wijkerslooth about the Ammodo Science Award: ‘In the past year, the importance of scientific research has become perhaps more visible than ever. In addition to applied research, fundamental research – the search for knowledge without focusing on specific solutions – is also crucial for the expansion of our knowledge and thus for the renewal of society. Ammodo is therefore proud to present the Ammodo Science Award for fundamental research for the fourth time. We are delighted to offer eight outstanding scientists the opportunity to explore new avenues in their curiosity-driven research.’


The laureates are:

Annemieke Aartsma-Rus, Professor of Translational Genetics at Leiden University Medical Center

Annemieke Aartsma-Rus (1977) has made an important contribution to research in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Patients with this serious hereditary muscle disease lack the protein dystrophin, because the gene code for dystrophin is unreadable. Thanks in part to the fundamental pioneering work of Aartsma-Rus, an exon skipping therapy is now available in the USA and Japan that can make the genetic code readable again. This can slow down disease progression for Duchenne patients.

Patricia Dankers, Professor of Biomedical Materials & Chemistry at Eindhoven University of Technology

Patricia Dankers (1978) designs, synthesizes, and investigates synthetic biomaterials that can control, mimic or even surpass complex biological processes in the human body. Using intelligent chemistry ageing or damaged tissue can be repaired. It is part due to her fundamental research that heart valves and vascular grafts made of synthetic biodegradable biomaterials exist, as well as synthetic hydrogels for the culture of stem cells.

Lisa Herzog, Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Groningen

Lisa Herzog (1983) analyses how moral and democratic norms can play a greater role in our economic system. What does it mean to act morally when employees feel like small cogs in the wheel of a large organisation? Herzog explores socially relevant issues such as these, always looking at the economic system from a philosophical perspective.

Walter Immerzeel, Professor of Mountain Hydrology at Utrecht University

Walter Immerzeel (1975) researches climate change in mountainous regions in Asia and its consequences for the availability of water for the millions of people living downstream. Immerzeel was the first to map the water cycle in the high mountains of the Himalayas. Over the next few years, he aims to understand thoroughly how natural disasters in mountain areas are related to their location and extreme weather, focusing on landslides, avalanches and glacial lakes.

Rivke Jaffe, Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Amsterdam 

Rivke Jaffe (1978) conducts research on urban space and everyday urban life. She has published on topics including crime and citizenship in Jamaica, the popular culture of illegality, and public-private security arrangements. Jaffe explores how technologies that are supposed to lead to increased security – such as guns, barbed wire, cameras and algorithms, but also animals such as police dogs – can simultaneously reproduce or increase social inequality.

Christian Lange, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Utrecht University

Christian Lange (1975) studies classical Arabic and Persian literature and is a pioneer in the field of Arabic digital humanities. His innovative analysis of digitized historical texts has yielded new insights, including into how Islamic criminal law was actually applied and how the five senses were understood throughout the centuries in different intellectual Islamic traditions. Lange’s research provides a multicoloured picture of the rich Islamic civilization.

Floris de Lange, Professor of Perception and Cognition at Radboud University

Floris de Lange (1977) studies how human perception arises from neurobiological processes in the brain. By measuring brain activity very precisely, he determines how information “flows” through the brain. Among other things, he has shown that our brain works like a prediction machine, actively using everything it learns to predict the future. Recently, De Lange has been studying why curiosity and surprise are important to the brain.

Louis Vermeulen, Professor of Molecular Oncology at the University Medical Center Amsterdam

Louis Vermeulen (1984) studies how derailments in the genetic material of stem cells can cause colon cancer. In doing so, he focuses specifically on the earliest development of tumors. He combines biochemistry and genetics with mathematical and physical models to map the dynamics of stem cells. With his innovative approach, he has made a major contribution to fundamental concepts within molecular oncology.


More information about the laureates and their research can be found at the website of the Ammodo Science Award.