UBC symposium: 5th edition

With an exciting, full day program centered around Big data in the Life Sciences, the Utrecht Bioinformatics Center celebrated its’ fifth anniversary with fellow bioinformaticians and computational biologists.

Relevance of bioinformatics

The day was initiated by Berend Snel, chair of the UBC, Gerrit van Meer, former dean of the Faculty of Science and Isabel Arends, current dean of the Faculty of Science. They stressed a historical perspective on the need of organizing bioinformatics teaching, infrastructure and teaching in Utrecht. In addition they provided a view on the importance of bioinformatics in the era of big data and data science.

Scientific program

The symposium then continued with a broad range of scientific talks.

  • Combining large cohorts of genetic and imaging data to understand human brain disease (keynote Paul ThompsonUniversity of Southern California)
  • Predicting likely protein interface interactions using structural modeling (keynote Raphael Guerois – Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell)
  • Understanding the evolutionary dynamics and organization of kinetochores (PI talk Geert Kops)
  • Identification of a leukemic subpopulation that predicts relapse (PI talk Frank Holstege)
  • Applied data analytics platform developed at UMC Utrecht (Wouter van Solinge)

Besides these talks, three PhD candidates were given the opportunity to present their work based on the abstracts submitted. These included Joske Ubels (UMC Utrecht), Axel Huber (Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology) and David Nieuwenhuijse (Erasmus Medical Center). They presented work on

  • a machine learning approach to identify myeloma patients that would respond well to treatment,
  • the identification of somatic mutational processes in hematopoietic stem cells, and
  • a deep learning approach to classify viral short read sequences in sewage samples.

Roy Straver was awarded the best poster prize for his poster on consensus calling using raw nanopore data for Cyclomics., followed by drinks and time to interact with fellow bioinformaticians and computational biologists.

The yearly UBC symposium hosted over 170 registered participants, more than 30 posters, international keynote speakers, local speakers and young scientists. The symposium at October 1, had a lively and vibrant scientific atmosphere.

(Photography by Bas van Breukelen)