Bioinformatics research experience and expertise

In Utrecht, many bioinformaticians work in an experimental group, while a few others work in their own “dry lab”. In our communications as UBC, we emphasise what binds us together. On the operational level, this include activities such as education and infrastructure. On a more abstract level, what connects us is the joy and expertise of inferring cool biology by developing and applying bioinformatics tools and analyses. Since what we have in common is an abstract notion, it is difficult to communicate about. And when we try to explain specific examples of this notion, the conversation often shifts to a particular piece of life science research, such as mutations in cancer or the immune system of plants, instead of the original common bioinformatic research experience and expertise.

So let us try to set the record straight.

Over the past year, members of our community have been very successful in their respective domains of Life Science research. For example, UBC PI Bas Dutilh and his PhD candidate Daniel Garza in their purely bioinformatic work. Dutilh and Garza recently revealed how we can use complicated models to predict environmental metabolomes from meta-genomic DNA sequencing data. Read more about the Nature Microbiology publication.

In the group led by UBC PI Albert Heck, a combination of novel mass-spectrometry data generation and bioinformatic analyses revealed that a protein modification that is very rare in humans turns out to be much more common than anticipated in one, and potentially many, bacteria. Read the publication in Nature Methods.

Although both studies concern different life science research domains and are only two anecdotal examples, they are linked by using highly original and advanced bioinformatic research expertise to enable breakthrough Life Science discoveries.

Yours sincerely,
Berend Snel, Patrick Kemmeren and Jeroen de Ridder

Utrecht Bioinformatics Center