Professor Ody Sibon of the Cell Biology Department of the University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen has been awarded a highly prestigious Vici grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The Vici grants are intended for excellent, experienced researchers who have successfully developed a new research line and thus established themselves prominently at both national and international levels.
Sibon will receive a grant of some EUR 1.5 million. This should enable her to further expand and strengthen her research group in coming years. Vici academics belong to the top researchers in the Netherlands and only three or four of such grants are awarded every year for each academic field. Deciding factors are that Vici laureates have proven that they can convince others of the originality and exceptional promise of their creative ideas as shown by their publications in top journals and their fundraising abilities, while also acting as stimulating and successful coaches to young researchers. In 2003, Sibon was already the recipient of a Vidi grant from NWO.
Ody Sibon received the Vici grant for her fundamental cell-biological research into nerve disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. One of the mysteries she is investigating is why nerve cells are so strongly affected in a number of diseases such as pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN). Research with fruit flies has shown why this is the case for a specific nerve disorder and indicates what can be done to protect the nerve cells. Fruit flies have the same characteristics as humans with regard to the essential basic mechanisms needed to live healthy lives. This makes them the ideal subject of research towards a better understanding of diseases and ultimately how to treat these effectively.
Prof. O.C.M. Sibon (1964) was appointed professor in 2008 at the Cell Biology Department of the University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen. Ody Sibon studied Medical Biology at Utrecht University. She was awarded a PhD in Medical Sciences in 1994 for her research into visualization of RNA processing at ultrastructural level. The title of her thesis was ‘In situ hybridisation: an electron microscopic study’. She worked from 1995 until 1998 as postdoctoral fellow at the State University Stony Brook in New York, where she studied stress responses in Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). She continued this line of research in the Cell Biology Department at UMCG. Her other positions include that of co-chair of the ‘Medische Publieksacademie UMCG’, a very successful lecture series on medical subjects intended for a non-specialist audience.
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