1 June

Marvin Tanenbaum receives Vidi funding for mRNA imaging

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Marvin Tanenbaum, researcher at the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW), has received a Vidi grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). This scholarship, worth 800 thousand euros, enables experienced researchers to set up their own innovative line of research in the coming five years. With the Vidi grant, Tanenbaum and his colleagues will develop a new technique that maps individual mRNA molecules.

Our genetic material contains all the information to produce the proteins that the body consists of. The correct translation of the genetic information is of great importance to keep cells healthy. The translation of mRNA is the most important step in that translation. This messenger molecule ensures the transfer of genetic information to the ribosomes, which then produce proteins from them.

Advanced imaging
Traditionally, each gene was thought to encode a single protein with a well- defined amino acid sequence, but recently it has become clear that during the translation process often multiple peptides and proteins are synthesized from a single mRNA transcript. However, the mechanisms behind this process are still largely unclear. The group of Marvin Tanenbaum develops advanced microscopy, which they use to visualize the precision with which the ribosomes read the genetic material. The Vidi grant enables Tanenbaum and his colleagues to develop a new imaging technique that visualizes the heterogeneity of this process during translation. This is expected to highlight the mechanisms and variability that occur during the decoding of genetic information.

NWO Talent Scheme
Vidi is aimed at experienced researchers who have carried out successful research for a number of years after obtaining their PhDs. Together with Veni and Vici, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Scheme. Researchers in the NWO Talent Scheme are free to submit their own subject for funding. NWO thus encourages curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use. A total of 571 researchers submitted an admissible research project for funding during this Vidi funding round. Eighty-six of these have now received grants. That amounts to an award rate of 15%.

Marvin Tanenbaum is group leader at the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW) and Oncode Investigator. His group studies the molecular mechanisms of gene expression control at the single cell level and aims to understand how control of gene expression affects important cellular decisions.

About the Hubrecht Institute
The Hubrecht Institute is a research institute focused on developmental and stem cell biology. It encompasses 20 research groups that perform fundamental and multidisciplinary research, both in healthy systems and disease models. The Hubrecht Institute is a research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), situated on the Utrecht Science Park ‘De Uithof’. Since 2008, the institute is affiliated with the University Medical Center Utrecht, advancing the translation of research to the clinic. The Hubrecht Institute has a partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). For more information, visit www.hubrecht.eu.

About the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)
The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences is the forum, conscience, and voice of the arts and sciences in the Netherlands. It promotes quality in science and scholarship and strives to ensure that Dutch scholars and scientists contribute to cultural, social and economic progress. As a research organisation, the Academy is responsible for a group of fifteen outstanding national research institutes. 

 About Oncode Institute
Oncode Institute is an independent institute whose goal is to translate fundamental insights about cancer to improved and more affordable care for patients as efficiently as possible. A team of renowned cancer researchers working in The Netherlands has joined forces within a mission-driven institute focusing on three pillars: excellent research, intensive collaboration and powerful valorization. The Dutch Cancer Foundation invests, together with the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy, the ministry of Education Culture & Science, the ministry of Health, Welfare & Sport, Health~Holland, NWO and ZonMw, a total of €120 million in Oncode Institute until 2022.