Grant rewarded The language of well-being

The language of well-being

Team:

  • Roel Willems (CLS/Faculty of Arts)
  • Enny Das (CLS/Faculty of Arts)
  • Junilla Larsen (BSI/Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Florian Hintz (MPI)
  • Peter Hagoort (MPI/DCCN)

How did you find your new collaborators?
I found new collaborators via the Healthy Brain study scientific board network

How did you communicate while generating this research ideas?
We communicated via e-mail and via Zoom.

What was easy in setting-up this new collaboration?
It was easy to find each other and to find enthousiasm for the overall plan.

What was difficult in setting-up this new collaboration?
It is difficult for researcher to make the judgement whether they want to join the effort. The potential outcome is far away and there is a lot of 'maybe' and 'perhaps'.

What is your advice to researchers on campus to set-up new collaborations across faculties?
Enjoy the new multidisciplinary outlooks. Be prepared to invest a lot of time.
 
 



Resource for scientific community

The Healthy Brain Study will result in a unique and accessible resource for the scientific community and its public and private partners. Data are collected through cognitive, affective, behavioral, and physiological testing, neuroimaging, bio-sampling, questionnaires, ecological momentary assessment, and real-world assessment using wearable devices. We believe that the HBS complements other studies – small and large –, which together enable the scientific community to take the next step in understanding the human brain and how it dynamically and individually operates in its bio-social context.
 
Read here the preprint of the paper describing the rationale and the design of the Healthy Brain Study.



Grant rewarded Trajectories of emotional, cognitive, and physical load at work

Trajectories of emotional, cognitive, and physical load at work: longitudinal assessment of subsequent cardiovascular risk

We interviewed Yannick Griep about this project.

Team

  •     Yannick Griep, Radboud University, Behavioural Science Institute
  •     Erik Bijleveld, Radboud University, Behavioural Science Institute
  •     Thijs Eijsvogels, Radboudumc, Physiology
  •     Roland Van Kimmenade, Radboudumc, Cardiology
  •     Ivana Vranjes, Management and Organisation, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland



How did you find your new collaborators?
Erik Bijleveld and myself had a few conversations about the Healthy Brain Project and how we could combine our research interests in tackling an interesting and practically significant project. Through his interactions with the Radboud UMC, we met with Thijs, who in turn introduced us to Roland. We also involved Ivana, who is working on similar topics as Yannick, but has experience with developing tools and workshops with the objective of reaching the wider community.

How did you communicate while generating this research ideas?
Most of our communication occurred via email (especially with Ivana who, at the time was is working for a Finnish university. Erik, Thijs, and I were able to meet face to face a few times to discuss our application. Nonetheless, probably 90% of our communication took place over email.

What was easy in setting-up this new collaboration?
It was easy to find a team of highly motivated people with an interest in our research to collaborate and work on this project.

What was difficult in setting-up this new collaboration?
Coming from different backgrounds means we often speak a different language when it comes to defining concepts or when identifying research gaps (what maybe a gap in psychology has long been solved in medicine). We may have different approaches to the same topic (for example, first conducting a meta-analysis and then running the study or with regards to how the practical output should look like), which at times can be challenging.

What is your advice to researchers on campus to set-up new collaborations across faculties?
Despite the challenges associated with it, I can only recommend to get as much experience as possible with doing inter-disciplinary research because it is highly rewarding and a great personal development tool which challenges to continue to develop new topical and methodological expertise.

 



Grant rewarded Big Sleep Data

Big sleep data: establishing a comprehensive processing pipeline for the Healthy Brain sleep recordings

Team:

  •     Martin Dresler, Radboudumc, Cognitive Neuroscience
  •     Lisa Genzel, Radboud University, Science Faculty, Neuroinformatics
  •     Peter Desain, Radboud University, Social Sciences Faculty, Artificial Intelligence
  •     Madelon van Hooff, Radboud University, Social Sciences Faculty, Work and Organizational    Psychology
  •     Merel Boon, Radboud University, Social Sciences Faculty, Work and Organizational Psychology



In this project the team will develop a comprehensive preprocessing and automatic sleep classification solution for the recorded sleep raw data that will allow Healthy Brain researchers to use the sleep data of each participants in the form of classical sleep stages.

Interview with Martin Dresler:

How did you find your new collaborators?
Interest in sleep research has been constantly growing on campus in recent years. After a very successful summer school on the neuroscience of sleep last year, we had gathered researchers from about a dozen research groups on campus with an interest in sleep for a more structured Radboud Sleep Network, however the in-person kick-off meeting in March fell prey to the lockdown. Nevertheless, we were in contact with many colleagues active in both animal and human sleep research when we stumbled across the Healthy Brain pre-seed call.

How did you communicate while generating this research ideas?
We had some in-person meetings to chat more generally on collaborations on sleep topics already before learning about the call. For this specific project, communication was restricted mostly to email due to the Covid crisis. This was not too much of a problem, given that the necessities of the sleep wearable analyses involved in the Healthy Brain project were quite straightforward, and thus we didn't have to brainstorm too extensively to find a joint research topic.

What was easy in setting-up this new collaboration?
Even though the team has not worked in this specific constellation before, the involved researchers had already contact in various smaller constellations, either within previous two-person collaborations, or at least in previous meetings to explore mutual research interests.

What was difficult in setting-up this new collaboration?
Not much, at least beyond the general Covid-related meeting restrictions.

What is your advice to researchers on campus to set-up new collaborations across faculties?
A funding call - for smaller scale seed funding or larger consortia - is a good opportunity to look for potential collaborators on campus (and beyond). However, even more promising is to connect with colleagues with similar research topics in advance, without a specific goal. This way, it is much easier and faster, both practically and in terms of finding topics of joint interest, to build a fruitful collaborative team as soon as a funding opportunity comes up.



Grant rewarded Small things matter

Team Science subsidy awarded

The first grants have been awarded last summer. In every newsletter we would like to introduce a research project to you. In this newsletter we would like to introduce the third one:

Small things matter: normal variation in thyroid function and affective vulnerability

In this project the team will investigate the biological mechanisms underlying the relation between small variations in thyroid function and mental wellbeing.

Team: 

  •     Dr. Marco Medici, Endocrinologist
  •     Professor dr. Indira Tendolkar, Psychiatrist
  •     Emma Sprooten PHD, Researcher genetic-neuroimaging

How did you find your new collaborators?
I have always been interested in the effects of thyroid hormone and related genetics on human brain development and function. The Healthy Brain Study provides a unique  opportunity to investigate this in young individuals. For a solid project group it was essential to find collaborators in psychiatry and genetic neuroimaging. Therefore, project manager Lucy Overbeek introduced me to Prof. dr. Indira Tendolkar, Emma Sprooten PhD, and Dr. Sourena Soheili-Nezhad. 

How did you communicate while generating this research ideas?
Because of COVID-19, most of the communication took place by video calls. It started with a rough outline of ideas which were later finetuned based on everyone’s  expertise. 

What was easy and what was challenging in setting-up this new collaboration?
The general project outline was quickly founded. As we all come from different fields in medicine, we all have a different perspective and speak a different language. That is a challenge, but most of all a strength since this has created novel hypotheses on the key role of thyroid hormone in brain development, function and dysfunction. 

What is your advice to researchers on campus to set-up new collaborations across faculties?
Setting up collaborations across faculties takes time, but is certainly worth the effort as it is likely to result in high-impact research and longstanding solid collaborations. 

 



Grant rewarded Establishing a platform for integration of mobile and wearable device data

Establishing a platform for integration of mobile and wearable device data

Team:

  • Erno Hermans (DCCN/Radboudumc)
  • Lucas Noldus (DCN/Faculty of Science) 
  • Peter de Looff (BSI/Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Dick Thijssen (RIHS/Radboudumc)
  • Jeroen Jansen (IMM/Faculty of Science)
  • Martin Dresler (DCCN/Radboudumc)

How did you find your new collaborators?
Most of us initially met each other within one of the work groups that designed the Healthy Brain Study: the “wearable devices” group. Very few people across campus work on data collection using mobile and wearable devices, and all are scattered across campus. We identified the need to harmonize and integrate data across different modalities of wearable and mobile devices, because we felt this integration would be necessary to unlock the extremely rich but complex data acquired in the Healthy Brain Study to a community of researchers excited to venture into the area of real-life data and to test their own hypotheses.
How did you communicate while generating this research ideas?
Like everybody, we were all working from home due to COVID-19 while preparing the proposal. We spent many hours on Zoom, having long and creative discussions on our plans.

What was easy in setting-up this new collaboration?
Actually, the Zoom era has made setting up this type of collaborations more easy. It was quite convenient getting together within our busy schedules without anyone having to travel.

What was difficult in setting-up this new collaboration?
In an interdisciplinary collaboration like this, you have to first learn each others’ language before you can start. But when it works  - as it did in this case - it is an extremely creative and rewarding process, probably more than when you discuss research plans with your direct colleagues.

What is your advice to researchers on campus to set-up new collaborations across faculties?
My most important advice would be to start from the content rather than from people - so first determine your goal, and then try to get together the right people to achieve that goal. And don’t be afraid to ask “stupid” questions when you don’t understand each others work.
 



Grant rewarded A real life biopsychosocial health-model

A real life biopsychosocial health-model: The longitudinal interplay between social functioning and systemic inflammation on mental health and cognitive outcomes

Team:

  • Maaike Verhagen (BSI/Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Farid Abdo (Department of Intensive Care Medicine/Radboudumc)
  • Jana Vyrastekova (IMR/Nijmegen School of Management)
  • Maartje Luijten (BSI/Faculty of Social Sciences)

How did you find your new collaborators?

Jana Vyrastekova: I was looking for ways of incorporating my focus on social inclusion and behavior with Healthy Brain, and Lucy as a great match-maker  suggested  to contact the initiator and main applicant (Maaike) of this pre-seed grant.

Farid Abdo: My own research is focussed on the interplay between systemic inflammation and the effects on the brain in patients and in healthy volunteers using experimental inflammatory setups. Previously I also had contact met Guillen and Lucy because I wanted to incorporate additional HBS sampling in my VIDI proposal. As Maaike Verhagen and Maartje Luijten were interested in inflammatory biomarkers and social networks, Guillen asked me to talk to them. This eventually led to an exciting proposal, which was written in a very short timeframe.

Maaike Verhagen: Maartje and I were already brainstorming around the interplay of inflammatory biomarkers and social-emotional health and when the opportunity to set up new collaborations arose, Lucy was there to guide us and introduced us to Farid and Jana.

How did you communicate while generating this research ideas? 

Jana Vyrastekova: We held ZOOM meetings, exchanged ideas. It worked surprisingly well.

Farid Abdo: All our contact occurred digitally due to the COVID measures at that time.

Maaike Verhagen: We used video calls to contact one another. This all went fairly well!

What was easy in setting-up this new collaboration?

Jana Vyrastekova: We shared our individual insights from rather complementary skills.

Farid Abdo: It was very easy and effective due to Maaike who took the role of coordinating the setup of the collaboration.

Maaike Verhagen: Although having challenging time schedules, everyone showed being able to work around this. It also appeared a matter of prioritizing and working outside the normal office hours. Also, having a shared goal which we wanted to work towards kept us highly motivated.

What was difficult in setting-up this new collaboration?

Jana Vyrastekova: I experienced this as challenging, not as difficult. We still have to come to a project that will fully rest on interdisciplinarity, and that might be the real tough task.

Farid Abdo: Apart from not having much time due to clinical work on the COVID-ICUs myself and not being able to meet face-to-face with the other collaborators, there was no difficulty at all to setup this new collaboration across different specialities and faculties. Each member saw the added value of the other members and importance of our common vision, which made the collaboration very natural and effective although I never worked with any of the collaborators.

Maaike Verhagen: To make sure that we were proposing a research idea high in interdisciplinarity as it was meant to be. Also, to reduce the numbers of interesting ideas we had, specifying ideas and making sure that these would be feasible.

What is your advice to researchers on campus to set-up new collaborations across faculties?

Jana Vyrastekova: Investigate the boundaries of your research; what additional methods/insights would help you to address your questions deeper? Let people know what you work on!

Farid Abdo: Just share your interests and ideas. With such a large group of researchers, the chances are large that you will find people that will collaborate. The HBS team and especially Guillen and Lucy have a good oversight and can help with the search for collaborators.

Maaike Verhagen: Just do it! It is time for a new era of interdisciplinary research. Experience the fun, the energy, the broadened view on research that you’ll probably experience, and dare taking the off-road tracks!

 



Grant rewarded Qualifying multivariate associations between large-scale brain network connectivity and gut microbiome composition

Qualifying multivariate associations between large-scale brain network connectivity and gut microbiome composition within the Healthy Brain Cohort

Team:

  • Esther Aarts (DCCN)
  • Nils Kohn (DCMN/Radboudumc)
  • Nina Belei (IMR/Nijmegen School of Management)
  • Annemarie Boleij (RIMLS/Radboudumc)
  • Ian Cameron (OnePlanet Research Center/Radboud University)
  • Annelies Goris (OnePlanet Research Center)
  • Alberto Llera (DCMN/Radboudumc)
  • Mirjam Bloemendaal (Radboudumc),
  • Alejandro Arias Vasquez (Radboudumc)

Nils Kohn and Esther Aarts had already been working together on a probiotics project, given their shared interest in the gut-brain axis. In the context of this collaboration, they also ran a multivariate association of large-scale brain network connectivity and the human gut microbiota, together with Alejandro Arias Vasquez, Mirjam Bloemendaal and Alberto Llera. This team was the kernel for the current seed fund. 
We were curious to take the results we had to a larger and broader sample, to replicate the results and deepen the understanding. Esther and Nils reached out to former collaborators a few months before the seed call even came out. We were able to add domain-specific experts in monitoring stress and mental health (OnePlanet, Ian Cameron), regulation of eating behavior (Nina Belei), and in gut microbiota functioning (Annemarie Boleij). With this broad team, we have the expertise to process the various data streams in HBS (e.g., fMRI data, gut-microbiota variables, Empatica watch data, food-related tasks and questionnaires) and to transfer the knowledge into the respective fields.
As we already had a working cross-disciplinary collaboration, we seemed to be hitting the ground running, and it was relatively easy to add other experts from our respective networks. 
A drawback in current times is surely that you do not so often meet in person. We will definitely need some onsite meetings to get to know each other better as a team.

A piece of advice from our view would be to start with the collaborations you already have and look at the breadth of data the HBS is offering to add other experts accordingly. However, in the midst of this wealth of data, it is also important to try to focus, which we aim for by first attempting to replicate previous results. 
 



Grant rewarded A Transdisciplinary View of the Role of Sensory Processing Sensitivity in Differential Susceptibility to Environments

A Transdisciplinary View of the Role of Sensory Processing Sensitivity in Differential Susceptibility to Environments

Team:

  • Corina Greven (DCMN/Radboudumc)
  • Judith Homberg (DCMN/Radboudumc)
  • Tessel Galesloot (RIHS/Radboudumc)
  • Laurens Landeweerd (ISS/Faculty of Science)
  • Linda Geerligs (DCC/Faculty of Social Sciences)

 

How did you find your new collaborators? 

Greven and Homberg recently wrote a review on differential susceptibility to environmental stimuli. We wanted to build on this. Another team member found us based on an interview in the Radboudumc research newsletter, the others we made contact with after researching their publications. 

How did you communicate while generating this research ideas?

Weekly one-hour online meetings in the month preceding the deadline.

What was easy in setting-up this new collaboration?

It was easy to find collaborators curious about research on Sensory Processing Sensitivity. This is an evolutionarily-conserved trait reflecting inter-individual differences in sensitivity to environmental information and comes with great transdisciplinary research potential.

What was difficult in setting-up this new collaboration?

The five of us come from different scientific backgrounds, each of which comes with its own language and explanatory model. It took time, discussion and careful listening to understand each other and find a common language. 

What is your advice to researchers on campus to set-up new collaborations across faculties?

Combining different disciplinary paradigms may aid in realising higher impact, but comes with its own challenges. Just like tapestry weaving, it takes skill to interlace the different threads of mono-disciplinary expertise into one fabric. We therefore involved an experienced facilitator in moving from multidisciplinary (multiple disciplines working together in parallel) to transdisciplinary (creating a unity of intellectual frameworks) ways of working.  
 


ERC consolidator project

In this ERC-funded project, we aim to use neuroimaging data from the Healthy Brain Study to measure various aspects of brain structure and function at the level of the individual.

Read more

ERC consolidator project

AndrĂ© Marquand is conducting research into the use of biomarkers — specific substances that can relay information about a person’s medical state. They have brought about a revolution in diagnosis and personalised treatment in many areas of medicine. Psychiatry is clearly behind in that regard. Mental disorders are still mostly diagnosed on the basis of symptoms simply because useful biomarkers are not available. This is because the means to analyse mental disorders at all imaginable levels — from neurobiology to behaviour — are still lacking.

Towards precision medicine in psychiatry

Marquand: “I want to develop a new toolbox that can be used to predict the start and the outcome of mental disorders on the basis of biomarkers. Biomarkers that signal the variation in the structure and organisation of the brain, based on the brain scans of over 40,000 people. I have developed a ‘brain chart technology’ which can function as a platform for both the shared and distinct characteristics of the mental disorder for individual people. A platform and a model that not only simulates different clinical brain states, but which can also test and model potential interventions.”

The innovative approach of Marquand, who is associated with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, could have far-reaching consequences. He uses depression and bipolar disorders to illustrate the approach he envisions. “For these disorders, we want to examine whether we can predict the development towards resilience or risk. It will bring the application of precision medicine within the reach of psychiatry. It will not only provide us with a better understanding of mental disorders, but it will also make early, personalised interventions and preventive treatments possible.”

In this ERC-funded project, we aim to use neuroimaging data from the Healthy Brain Study to measure various aspects of brain structure and function at the level of the individual. In addition, we plan to acquire smartphone-based digital phenotyping data to measure moment-to-moment behavioural activity. The goal of the project is to develop analytical tools to integrate these complementary sources of information and to predict functioning at the level of the individual.



Citizen Science

The Healthy Brain Study resource will also be used for citizen science. Different forms of citizen science exist. Projects can be led by experts, community-led or co-created with different aims and levels of participation. HBS participants and other citizens generate research topics and questions to be answered with the HBS resource. In traditional designs, scientists test hypotheses that are often based on previous findings within their research domain or their own intuitions. However, people living in or with specific conditions (i.e., being in their thirties and going through key life events) may have additional insight on top of existing expert-knowledge. These insights are uncovered in the citizen science platform. The essence of the platform is to leverage collective intelligence from a large group of participants versus a smaller number of experts. This can reveal topics and research questions that have a significant influence on people’s behavior in the real world and their health status, which experts may have left untouched. By giving citizens a voice in scientific research, it can contribute considerably to the valorization of research results.

A citizen science platform is used to involve participants as well as other citizens in generating research topics and questions that can be investigated with the Healthy Brain Study resource. We ‘crowdsource’ lists of research topics and/or research questions that participants and citizens think are useful for examining with the Healthy Brain Study resource. At the same time, they also rate the importance of the crowd-generated suggestions by other participants and citizens resulting in an overview that reflects the relevance and prioritization of their overall input.

Take a look at crowdience.nl