The 2020 Gratama Science Award has been awarded to Dr Ymkje Anna de Vries of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences of the University of Groningen. De Vries followed degree programmes in the fields of neuroscience, clinical science and psychosocial sciences at three UG faculties as well as the University of California. Her research takes an innovative approach, linking pharmacological results to adolescent behaviour. She studies depression in young people, and in particular the effectiveness of antidepressants and the consequences of administering them.
Ymkje Anna de Vries’s PhD thesis shows that the effectiveness and safety of pharmacological treatment for anxiety and depression, the most common psychiatric disorders among young people, are overestimated as a consequence of incorrect assumptions in existing publications. She claims that these disorders (as well as other disorders that emerge relatively late in life) can be prevented by identifying relatively mild, easily treatable problems in young people.
De Vries has already received two other prizes for her PhD thesis: one from the UMCG and one from the Royal Society for the Natural Sciences (Koninklijk Natuurkundig Genootschap). She also has a notable list of publications to her name. The Netherlands Initiative for Education Research of the Dutch Research Council has awarded her and two other researchers a research grant for a comparative study on anxiety and depression in secondary school pupils.
De Vries would like to use the € 25,000 prize money to go to the Harvard Medical School in Boston to study easy-access interventions that can be used to make students more resilient against stress. She subsequently wants to use this knowledge at the UG to monitor students for stress factors and intervene if necessary.
The Gratama Foundation has been making annual amounts of € 25,000 available since 2011 to award a ‘Gratama Science Award’ to students of the universities of Leiden and Groningen. The prize is awarded alternately by the universities in Groningen and Leiden to a young, promising academic.
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