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Maastricht University included in National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure

december 15, 2016

On 13 December, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) announced the research facilities that will be given highest priority status over the next four years in the Netherlands. Four facilities at Maastricht University, one of which shared by several clusters, are participating in the life science division of the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure developed by the NWO. All Roadmap facilities are eligible for NWO funding to the amount of €200 million, divided into two rounds.

Selection
Earlier this year, the Permanent Committee for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure identified roughly 160 new and existing research facilities in need of investments. As there is not enough funding to support all of these facilities in the Netherlands, the committee made a selection based on the facilities' significance to the scientific field. Another specific selection criterion was the alignment with strategic projects such as the National Research Agenda, top-level sectors and the European Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities (ESFRI).

UM in life science domain
UM will be participating in the following facilities and clusters within the life science domain:

  • ELIXIR-NL cluster: Data infrastructure for life sciences. As a national hub for the European network of the same name, ELIXIR-NL serves as a digital platform to make the data generated by the life science sector more accessible. The UM infrastructure euroCAT is part of this cluster and is one of the world’s first big data infrastructures for the healthcare sector. This infrastructure was made possible thanks to an Interreg grant and has more than twenty centres across four continents (see the animation). The network is headquartered in Maastricht.
  • MRI and Cognition cluster: Brain imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides researchers and clinicians with information about the structure (anatomy), functioning (physiology) and biochemical processes (metabolism) of the brain and other parts of the body. This makes it an important tool for researching health and disease, behaviour, and learning and development. The Open Access Ultra High Field MRI Facilities infrastructure is part of this cluster.
  • The Metabolic Research Unit Maastricht (MRUM) facility: Measuring human metabolism in a controlled environment. MRUM makes it possible to research the metabolism of the human body as a whole and of specific organs and tissues under carefully controlled circumstances.
  • NEMI cluster: Seeing with electrons. Technological developments are revolutionising electron microscopy (EM), a technology that is more than eighty years old. NEMI (Netherlands Electron Microscopy Infrastructure) gives researchers the opportunity to see how individual atoms and molecules behave and organise themselves in biological and non-biological materials. The UM infrastructure Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging Institute (M4I) is part of this cluster.

Applications
The research facilities included the Roadmap can submit their grant applications in mid-2017. The first grants are expected to be allocated in the spring of 2018. The Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure was set up for a period of four years. The next Roadmap update will be published sometime in 2020.

Response by UM Rector Magnificus Rianne Letschert
'We are extremely proud that our infrastructures have been included in the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure. The facilities that have been included in this Roadmap are a top priority for the field of science, which means they are extremely important to the Dutch scientific field as well,' says Professor Rianne Letschert, Rector Magnificus of Maastricht University. 'Acquiring more European and Dutch research grants is an important part of our strategy. We are pursuing this by devoting special attention to research projects that align with the National Research Agenda and that focus on research themes of relevance to the top sector policy.'
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