Photographer:Fotograaf: archive Vera Schrauwen
MAASTRICHT. Researcher Vera Schrauwen-Hinderling received two first prizes last year: a Vidi grant from NWO and an ERC grant from Brussels. She did so with similar research proposals. ERC and NWO do not agree with this. An attempt to give the Vidi project a different angle, did not work.
Increasing your chances by submitting similar applications to Brussels and NWO, is fairly common. Nevertheless, Vera Schrauwen-Hinderling, working at the department of Imaging/Human Biology, was the first UM researcher to actually end up winning both times: a Vidi grant of 800 thousand euro and an ERC starting grant of 1.5 million.
However: ERC and NWO do not fund research that is already being subsidised by another organisation. NWO does want to help find a solution; in this case they gave Schrauwen the opportunity to adapt her proposal in such a way that the overlap would disappear.
Schrauwen-Hinderling is going to carry out research into the compound NAD+, which is released, among others, during physical exercising. In animals, it improves insulin sensitivity and promotes longevity. How is this in humans? For the ERC grant, she would study the compound in muscles. For the Vidi grant, she could research NAD+ in the liver, but this was not approved by the NWO’s scientific committee. This setup deviates too much from the original proposal, which means that the committee would have to look at the proposal again.
Schrauwen-Hinderling thinks it is a pity but understands the decision. “With the present low success rates and the time that an excellent application takes, it is not illogical to submit similar proposals to several subsidy providers. Anyway, if you bet on two horses, you don't expect both to win. I could have set aside the ERC and chosen the Vidi, but the amount of the European grant is higher and offers more opportunities in the research project.”