UBC Annual Symposium 2022

This year will feature our seventh edition of the yearly Utrecht Bioinformatics Center Symposium. Save the date to join a full day of interesting keynotes, local PI’s and selected talks from PhD candidates and postdocs as well as a poster session during lunch.

April 13th 2021

Gasthuis Leeuwenbergh | Servaasbolwerk 1a | 3512 NK | Utrecht


Send your poster Title and Abstract

to: c.c.heuzer@uu.nl

Preliminary programme


09:00 – 09:30 Registration
09:30 – 09:45 Welcome by Prof. dr. Berend Snel (UU, chair UBC)
09:45 – 10:30 Keynote speaker: Prof. dr. Tuncay Baubec (UU)
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break
11:00 – 12:30 Session 1: Genome Biology
PI talk: Dr. Vlad Cojocaru (Hubrecht Institute)
PI talk: Dr. Julia Drylewicz (UMCU)
Selected talk 1: Arne van Hoeck (UMCU)
Selected talk 2: Jorg Calis (UMCU)
12:30 – 14:00 Walking lunch and Poster Presentations 
14:00 – 15:30 Session 2: Metagenomics
PI talk: Dr. Tim Dallman (UU)
PI talk: Dr. Julia Engelmann (NIOZ / UU)
Selected talk 3: Mao Peng (Westerdijk inst)
Selected talk 4: Chrats Melkonian (UU)
15:30 – 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00 – 16:45 Keynote speaker: Prof. dr. Bas Dutilh (Uni. Jena / UU)
16:45 – 17:00 Award and closing ceremony
17:00 Drinks and Social Event
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Sara Pulit | Bringing genetics to drug discovery: What computational biology can (and can’t do – yet) to help find new medicines

from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, San Diego: Sara has been working in Utrecht, with a strong emphasis on genetic association studies to unravel genetic predispositions for different diseases. She has recently moved to Vertex Pharmaceuticals where she continues to apply genetics and bioinformatics in an industrial setting.

Abstract: The mapping of the human genome nearly two decades ago has resulted in a tidal wave of genetic discoveries. Linkage analyses revealed the underpinnings of rare diseases, genome-wide association studies yielded insights into common diseases, and sequencing continues to uncover the genetic keys to an array of syndromes and disorders. With this veritable mountain of discoveries before us, a primary aim of genetics (and computational biology more broadly) is to discover if and how these findings can lead us to transformative medicines for serious diseases. In my talk, I will describe how genetic studies – performed even before the human genome had been mapped – paved the way to our understanding of cystic fibrosis (CF) and in turn informed existing therapeutics for the treatment of CF. I will also discuss how genetics and computational biology has transformed and continues to transform the drug discovery process.

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Vlad Cojocaru | Structural modeling and molecular simulations of protein-DNA interactions

I will present here our recent efforts in understanding the mechanisms by which transcription factors recognize DNA in different chromatin contexts. Transcription factors are proteins that regulate gene expression by binding to DNA regulatory regions to activate or repress the transcription of genomic DNA into RNA. Many transcription factors are involved in determining the identity of a cell and usually just a few of them are sufficient to convert between different cellular states. Such conversions have important applications in regenerative therapies but are often inefficient and uncontrollable. Understanding the mechanisms by which transcription factors recognize their sequence specific binding sites on DNA and especially on DNA wrapped in chromatin will provide means to optimize cell state conversions. I will demonstrate how molecular simulations can be used to decode these mechanisms.

Anita Schürch | Prediction and exploration of the pan-plasmidome of medically relevant bacterial species 

In bacteria, a considerable part of the genome can be encoded on mobile genetic elements. These mobile genetic elements disseminate important traits such as antibiotic resistance genes which can spread through different hosts and environments. However, the reconstruction of mobile genetic elements such as plasmids from short read genomic and metagenomic sequencing data is challenging. I will present novel computational strategies to reconstruct plasmids and their potential to study plasmid sequences at the bacterial species level. This allowed the  exploration of the pan-plasmidome of Enterococcus faecium, an important multi-drug resistant nosocomial pathogen. We observed that isolates from hospital patients carry more plasmid sequences than isolates from other sources. Moreover, plasmidomes rather than chromosomes are highly specific for the isolation source.