Tazuko van Berkel, Stan Brouns, Tatiana Filatova, Jingyuan Fu, Merel Keijzer, Daniël Lakens, Hugo Snippert and Anja Spang are the winners of the Ammodo Science Award for fundamental research 2023. The laureates each receive a cash prize of 350,000 euros which they can use in the coming years to explore new avenues of fundamental scientific research.
The Ammodo Science Award for fundamental research 2023 is presented to eight scientists across the four scientific domains of Biomedical Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences.
Jingyuan Fu, Professor of Systems Medicine at the University Medical Centre Groningen
Fu (1972) studies the gut microbiome in relation to disease and health, focusing in particular on complex diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. She impressively demonstrated, for example, that the gut microbiome can be manipulated by both dietary interventions and certain drugs. This makes the microbiome an important starting point for disease prevention and treatment.
Hugo Snippert, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics at University Medical Centre Utrecht
Snippert (1982) uses microscopy and molecular genetics to unravel how it is that there is a huge diversity of tumour cells and what the consequences of this are. He was one of the first researchers to apply microscopy to organoids – mini-organs grown in the lab – enabling biological processes in living cells to be studied in detail. He recently succeeded in using organoid technology to track how a colon tumour responds to combined drug treatment. This knowledge helps towards the tailoring of individual cancer therapies.
Tazuko van Berkel, Assistant Professor of Classical Languages and Cultures at Leiden University
Van Berkel (1979) researches self-image, humanity, and worldview in classical Greek society and in particular how the advent of the money economy affected the Greek idea of friendship. She is currently focusing her research on how the economic domain was defined in antiquity, not only by scholars, but also in the everyday views of citizens. Van Berkel’s research invites critical reflection on economic thinking in our own time.
Merel Keijzer, Professor of English Linguistics and English as a Second Language at the University of Groningen
Keijzer (1980) researches how learning a new language contributes to healthy ageing. To do so, she uses innovative and multidisciplinary research methods and works closely with neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists. Keijzer has shown that people who are multilingual, and who still actively used their languages, generally showed better cognitive functioning. In particular, frequent switching between different languages seems to be able to compensate for ageing processes in the brain, such as mild memory loss.
Stan Brouns, Professor of Molecular Microbiology at TU Delft
Brouns (1978) is engaged in fundamental research into the age-old battle between microbes and viruses. In particular, he studies the so-called CRISPR-Cas defence mechanisms that bacteria deploy to arm themselves against viruses. Thanks to Brouns’ research we now know that bacteria possess a smart, adaptive immune system that can remember and render invaders harmless. In addition, Brouns is leading an innovative study of bacteriophages, the natural enemies of bacteria, as a possible alternative to antibiotics.
Anja Spang, Endowed Professor of Symbioses in Evolution at the University of Amsterdam and Research Leader at NIOZ
Spang (1983) studies the special role that various micro-organisms such as archaea have played in major evolutionary changes, including the origin of eukaryotes to which humans belong. She has discovered an impressive number of new archaea variants in recent years and has found revolutionary evidence in support of the hypothesis that eukaryotic organisms (such as humans) once evolved from a symbiosis between archaea and bacteria. What makes Spang’s research especially relevant at present is that archaea also influence the climate.
Tatiana Filatova, Professor of Computational Economics at TU Delft
Filatova (1981) researches the complex dynamics between socio-economic systems and climate change, seeking, among other things, to predict societies’ responses to different climate scenarios. A distinctive feature of her research is the use of existing knowledge from the social sciences to enrich traditional climate models. For example, using computer simulations Filatova has shown that gradual poverty traps and ghettos may arise in climate-sensitive areas, including in rich countries.
Daniel Lakens, Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology and Meta-science at TU Eindhoven
Lakens (1980) studies how scientists conduct research, with the aim of increasing the reliability and efficiency of social science research. He played an important role in investigating the global ‘replication crisis’ in psychology, and thanks to his empirical and theoretical analyses, scientific awareness of ‘publication bias’ and ‘p-hacking’ has grown considerably in recent years. Over the past decade, Lakens has become one of the leading scientists in meta-science in the Netherlands and abroad.
Juliette de Wijkerslooth, Ammodo director: “The search for knowledge based on pure curiosity is indispensable and has often led to major scientific breakthroughs. We are therefore proud to present the Ammodo Science Award for fundamental research for the fifth time to eight top scientists who are blazing their own trails. My warmest congratulations to the laureates!”
About the Ammodo Science Award for fundamental research
Every two years, Ammodo presents the Ammodo Science Award for fundamental research to eight outstanding mid-career scientists conducting fundamental research. The Award includes a cash prize of EUR 350,000 and covers all four scientific domains: Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Biomedical Sciences. Winners are selected by advisory committees made up of renowned scientists.
In addition, since 2020, Ammodo has presented the Ammodo Science Award for groundbreaking research in even calendar years, expressing appreciation for research that is internationally recognised, high quality, potentially groundbreaking, and carried out collaboratively.
The Ammodo Science Award for fundamental research 2023 will be presented this spring at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.