11 July

Vidi for Juan Garaycoechea

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Juan Garaycoechea – group leader at the Hubrecht Institute – has received a Vidi grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). He was awarded with this grant of €800.000 to proceed with his research on DNA damage. Specifically, he proposed to study harmful compounds in the human body that can cause this damage, which can contribute to disease.

Cells are continuously facing threats which can cause harm to the DNA. How this becomes a threat to human health becomes apparent in cancer: cancer cells display many mutations An error in the DNA. Mutations can, among other things, arise if the DNA is copied incorrectly or through external influences. For example, tumor cells often contain mutations that are beneficial for their growth. in the DNA, leading to an altered cell function. External threats like UV light or cigarette smoke have already been widely studied as DNA damaging factors that contribute to the formation of cancer. However, harmful factors from the body itself, ‘endogenous’ factors, have not yet been well identified. The Garaycoechea group aims to identify these factors by using a combination of techniques. With this versatile approach, the group will study various aspects of DNA damage as a result of endogenous factors.

Firstly, the researchers will use a novel single-cell sequencing technique to determine which mutations occur in tissues that are mainly affected by damaging compounds originating from the body itself. Secondly, they will study the impact of the damage done by the endogenous factors on tissues, and if this damage contributes to cancer and ageing. Finally, the group wants to characterize the nature of this type of ‘endogenous’ DNA damage. Altogether, the researchers hope to get a better view on the mechanisms behind certain types of mutations found in cancer cells. This knowledge can contribute to a better preventative or therapeutic strategy to combat this disease.

About the Vidi grant
The Vidi grant of NWO is aimed to support researchers who already have gained experience in science after obtaining their PhD. In the current funding round, 625 researchers applied for the grant. Juan Garaycoechea was one of the 101 researchers to whom the grant was awarded.

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.



Juan Garaycoechea is group leader at the Hubrecht Institute