New ENW-M-2 grant for our researchers! Recently the NWO Domain Board Science approved twenty-six grant applications in the Open Competition Domain Science-M programme. One of these grants was awarded to Heidi Lesscher (PHS, DWM) and Frank Meye (Translational Neuroscience, UMC Utrecht) to study if early life play opportunity, and in particular ‘risky’ play, promotes the development of cognitive control and stress resilience in later life. In this project, rats experiencing different degrees of play during early life will be compared for their degree of cognitive control under stress. Expectations are that enhanced opportunities for risky social play in early life enhance stress resilience in later life. We will also address the neurobiological effects of social play on cognitive control networks. Understanding how play shapes stress resilience is important for the prevention of mental health problems. Stay tuned for positions opening up related to this project.
“Very excited to team up with Heidi Lesscher to unravel if early life risky play opportunities alter neural networks of cognitive control to confer stress resilience in later life” Frank Meye
Post-doc researcher Danai Riga investigates ways to raise our body’s defends against stress, in order to prevent the development of anxiety. In particular, she aims to understand how built-in anti-stress systems work, and how to harness their therapeutic potential to alleviate anxiety. She received an XS grant (50.000 euro), via the NWO’s Open Competition Domain Science, which supports the fast implementation of curiosity-driven, groundbreaking ideas. Her project, titled “Stamps of resilience: elucidating the molecular diversity of the brain’s anti-stress system”, will examine the unique molecular identity of neuronal cells that mediate stress-relief.
“I am honoured to have received the XS grant, which will help me realise an exciting set of experiments in collaboration with other researchers of the Brain Center. Together, we will provide a detailed molecular map of our brain’s anti-stress system. We hope this will form the basis for uncovering novel targets for the treatment of anxiety”
She will perform the described work at the Translational Neuroscience department together with Frank Meye and colleagues.
Assistant professor Frank Meye researches how stress alters the strength of connections in the brain involved in decision-making, and how this can lead to impulsive eating behavior. He also investigates how this process can be turned for the better by targeted manipulation of brain activity.
He has received the prestigious VIDI grant (800,000 euro), titled “The need to eat: Why stress makes you crave junk food “, to facilitate his research at our Translational Neuroscience Department.
“This Vidi grant plays a crucial role in further forming my research group that aims to understand how stress leads to plastic changes in the brain, and how this plays a role in multiple disease processes. It’s great that this application has been granted, as our lab is very excited to take on the challenge of better understanding these important processes!” Frank Meye