NIH Grants awarded to research team Raf Van de Plas

News - 05 December 2018 - Webredactie 3ME

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are awarding two prestigious American grants to the research team led by Raf Van de Plas from the Department of DCSC. The Van de Plas group has expertise in the mathematical analysis and control of spectral imaging systems and signals, a class of image signals that are used in fields such as material science, forensic science, and the pharmaceutical industry. The American grants both promote medical advancement, and in doing so are supported by the methodological research of the Van de Plas group, for example on the computational fusion of information between different imaging technologies. 

Raf Van de Plas and his American colleagues at Vanderbilt University are receiving a five-year grant for their research project in the area of imaging mass spectrometry. Their research aims to understand and unravel the molecular battle that ensues between the host body and a pathogen during microbial infections. It is important to understand (and visualise) this battle in order to find new ways of fighting antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, for example from hospital bacteria such as MRSA. The Van de Plas group will use this five-year grant to focus on developing the necessary mathematical methods and signal analysis algorithms for mass spectrometry and molecular imaging, and to expand on their work regarding Data-Driven Multi-Modal Image Fusion (Van de Plas et al., Nature Methods, 2015). In this multidisciplinary project, Van de Plas works together with Richard Caprioli, professor of biochemistry and director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center, Jeffrey Spraggins, assistant professor of Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance mass spectrometry and Eric Skaar, director of the Division of Molecular Pathogenesis at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

“We’re delighted with these grants,” Raf Van de Plas says, “in particular because it’s quite unusual for a European group to have the opportunity to actively participate in such major American grants. Our relatively unique and recognised expertise appears to have been a crucial factor in persuading the NIH reviewers of the need for TU Delft’s presence.”

The second grant that Van de Plas and his team are receiving is biannual funding for their contribution to prestigious research on the development of an open framework to visualise the human body down to the individual cell, using a wide range of imaging techniques.

“In this research,” Raf Van de Plas says, “we’re essentially mapping the human body. This research is part of the NIH Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP). This project uses my research on dimensionality reduction to keep terabytes to petabytes of molecular imaging data under control and make this data analysable within practical time frames. Our work on multimodal image fusion will also be used to discover relationships between different imaging techniques and to capture these relationships in the form of mathematical models for various new predictive applications.”

Read more in the article Mass spectrometry team earns grant to map body at the cellular level.

A previously published article on Raf Van de Plas’ research, Unprecedented insights in the battle against bacterial infection, appeared in Delta.