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AIMMS’ Catalin Bunduc received a Veni grant for his research into tuberculosis. With his research he wants to understand how the tuberculosis bacterium infects us and thus open the door to new therapeutics against tuberculosis. Although we often think of tuberculosis (TB) as a disease of the past, it still kills 1.6 million people a year – that’s more than 4,000 lives a day. In order to fight it effectively, it is crucial that we understand how the bacterium that causes this disease (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) makes us ill.

The bacterium that causes TB is protected by an impermeable layer through which antibiotics are difficult to pass. Nevertheless, the bacterium manages to pass harmful proteins that cause us to become ill through this layer to the outside world. To do this, the TB bacterium uses a series of channels known as type VII secretion systems (T7SSs). These are channels that act as a kind of couriers at the cellular level.

Bunduc wants to understand the mechanism used by T7SSs to transport proteins across this layer. For this he will use various genetic, biochemical and structural techniques. Since T7SSs are essential for bacteria to infect us, a better understanding of them will open the door to new treatments for TB, by focusing on the way the channels transmit proteins.

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded Bunduc a Veni grant. This will enable him to further develop his own research into type VII secretion systems over the next three years.

The NWO Talent Program gives researchers the freedom to conduct their own research based on creativity and passion. They receive a maximum of 280,000 euros. The program stimulates innovation and curiosity. Free research contributes to and prepares us for the society of tomorrow. That is why NWO focuses on a diversity of scientists, domains and backgrounds. Veni is part of the Talent Program together with the Vidi and Vici grants.

NWO selects researchers based on the scientific quality and innovative character of the research proposal, the scientific and/or social impact of the proposed project and the quality of the researcher.

About the Scientist

AIMMS Expertise covered

  • Phage therapy
  • Vaccin development
  • Epidiology
  • Novel drugs
  • Tuberculosis
  • Antifungals
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Dormancy