Meet UBC Principal Investigator Belen Rabaglino

Meet UBC Principal Investigator Belen Rabaglino

At the crossroads of veterinary science and bioinformatics, Belen Rabaglino leads pioneering research in cattle reproduction. In this interview, she shares her bioinformatics-related work, emphasizing the vital role of interdisciplinary collaboration.

 

Belen Rabaglino works as a veterinary scientist at Utrecht University, specialising in animal reproduction. With a focus on transcriptomics and epigenomics, Belen’s research delves into unravelling the biology of uterine tissue, as well as embryonic and fetal development in ruminants. Her approach combines traditional methodologies with cutting-edge techniques, including bioinformatics tools.

How can bioinformatics contribute to veterinarian science?

The development of high-throughput technologies during the last decades has allowed us to measure biological molecules on a big scale. The analysis of this vast amount of data implies the application of mathematical algorithms in numbers derived from biological events. Indeed, bioinformatics tools find patterns that can objectively describe –and even predict– physiological events or their disruptions, which is fascinating considering the deep complexity of biological organisms.

Therefore, bioinformatics can enable a better understanding of the normal and pathological status of an animal. This could advance veterinary research, lead to tailored treatments, and improve the health and well-being of animals.

How do you incorporate bioinformatics in your research?

Our research is in the area of cattle reproduction, which can be tackled from different perspectives. In my view, using omics technologies and applying bioinformatics to study reproductive biology is an excellent approach to unveil answers to critical and still intriguing questions.

For example, bioinformatics can shed light on the molecular landscape of a conceptus that successfully reaches the postnatal period or on the communication with the maternal environment up to that point. Therefore, our research outputs can bring double advantages: increasing cattle reproductive efficiency for sustainable food production and using a robust animal model to understand embryo and foetal development in humans.

How do you envision collaborating with other researchers?

It is undeniable that interdisciplinary collaboration can strengthen our research. Methods used in human studies can be applied to cattle to improve our results. Similarly, studies done in cattle could provide valuable insights into embryo and foetal development that are not possible with animal models such as rodents. Thus, researchers from other disciplines could also benefit from our investigation.

What are you looking forward to most as a PI of the UBC?

As a veterinarian who learned bioinformatics later in my career, my medical background gives me a holistic understanding of the biological relevance of an experiment. This helps me conduct the appropriate analysis to obtain meaningful information. Therefore, I am always eager to adopt new data science tools and techniques that can be applied to our projects.

Joining UBC represents an excellent opportunity to reinforce my scientific connections with other PIs and students with solid bioinformatic skills, which could result in productive and significant collaborations. Thus, I want to emphasize that I am certainly open to interdisciplinary collaborations and hope to expand and facilitate them through the UBC network.