To further strengthen the collaboration between TU/e, WUR, UU and UMC Utrecht, five grants of 50,000 euros have been awarded to research and education across the boundaries of disciplines and institutions. The projects are innovative and interdisciplinary. The seed money is being awarded for the sixth time and as a result over a hundred employees from the four different institutions are working on joint research and education.

With this collaboration, the institutions strengthen the opportunity to look at major global issues from new perspectives and come up with innovative solutions. The seed money fund was established to further support this goal. There are three calls every year. With this money for five projects, 23 researchers from TU/e, WUR, UU and UMC Utrecht are now going to work together in five projects.

Summer School-Food for Mars and Moon        

A blended global summer school 2023 on the topic of Food for Mars and Moon, to bring students and young professionals from different backgrounds together to learn by doing and think out of the box of with futuristic topics. This young generations will work together for future food production. And next to this, attract industrial partners to explore interdisciplinary collaboration in future space farm. Experiments will be done together with Mars soil simulants at different locations in the world to test the effect of different levels of gravity on plant development.

Researchers: Twan van Hooff (TUe), Zhen Liu (WUR), Weiger Wamelink (WUR), Eiko Kuramae (UU)

UPOD: Urea removing membranes for POrtable Dialysis

Patients with kidney disease undergo dialysis to replace kidney function. Although life-saving, dialysis has major shortcomings. Treatment is not continuous, resulting in inadequate removal of waste products and excess fluid, and patients have to go to the hospital 3 to 4 times a week for a 4-hour session. This leads to a greatly reduced quality of life, major health problems and a high mortality rate. A user-friendly portable device that enables dialysis outside the hospital represents a giant leap forward for dialysis patients and significantly improves their quality of life.

Researchers: K. Nijmeijer (TUe), Z. Borneman (TUe), A. Asadi Tashvigh (WUR), C.F. van Nostrum (UU), M. Moret (UU), J.C. Vollenbroek (UMC Utrecht), K.G.F. Gerritsen (UMC Utrecht)

Benchmarking synthetic CT for radiotherapy: the SynthRAD2023 Grand Challenge

For the treatment and diagnosis of oncology patients, medical imaging (imaging), such as by 3D computed tomography (CT), is very important. In addition to CT, other imaging is used today, such as cone-beam CT (CBCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These also require still, CT-like images called synthetic CT (sCT). Many techniques have been proposed to generate sCT from MRI or CBCT, but no open access data and clear metrics have been defined. The project is organizing a challenge for a first platform offering public datasets and evaluation metrics comparing the latest developments in sCT generation approaches.

Researchers: Maureen van Eijnatten (TUe), Manya Afonso (WUR), Matteo Maspero (UMC Utrecht)

Biofabrics for Plants         

Single cells open possibilities for biotechnology, basic cell biology, and mutagenesis at scale. However, the major hindrance to this work in plants is the poor survival of cells isolated from tissue. Also, solutions for embedding live plant cells are limited and therefore the use of microscopy is complicated. Here, we aim to combine knowledge in plant stress biology (UU), plant developmental biology (WUR), and biomaterials science (TU/e) to immobilize individual plant cells and maintain their healthy living status. The results would be critical for research together with the alliance Centre for Living Technologies.

Researchers: Patricia Dankers (TUe), Maritza Rovers (TUe), Renze Heidstra (WUR), Anneke Horstman (WUR), Dmitry Lapin (UU)

Methodological needs in microbiome multi-omics

The human microbiome is associated with a wide range of diseases and personal health outcomes. However, understanding biological interactions and proving causality is challenging. As a result, correct interpretation of clinical impact and personalized nutrition approaches are lacking. Strong interdisciplinary perspectives are needed to adequately address these challenges. The goal is to organize workshops, write a white paper and develop a challenge for students.

Researchers: Shauna O’Donovan (TUe), Diana Hendrickx (WUR) , Annelies Kers (UU), Said el Bouhaddani (UMC Utrecht)