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ERC Starting grant for Sasha Zhernakova

In Sept. 2016 Dr. A. (Sasha) Zhernakova was awarded an ERC Starting grant to study: “ The role of the virome in shaping the gut ecosystem during the first year of life”. She will study the development of gut flora in newborns. At birth, babies have a limited number of bacteria and viruses in their guts. These increase during the first twelve months, eventually forming a stable colony of gut flora (the microbiome). She will try to discover how the viruses and bacteria develop and how this affects babies’ health. She will study both genetic factors and environmental factors, such as diet, vaccinations

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Harm Jan Westra awarded a Rubicon grant

Harm Jan Westra has been awarded a Rubicon grant by NWO for a project proposal entitled “Localizing autoimmune disease alleles to CD4+ cell state-specific regulatory regions”. He is currently working as a postdoc in Boston under Dr Soumya Raychaudhuri, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is the only UMCG recipient of a Rubicon in this round.

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Lude Franke awarded ERC Starting Grant (€1.5m)

New ‘big data’ approach to identify environmental risk factors for disease Lude Franke (Department of Genetics, UMCG) has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant (€1,500,000) to identify new environmental risk factors for immune diseases. Many diseases have a genetic background but other environmental risk factors (such as viral or bacterial infections) must also play an important role. However, for most diseases these environmental risk factors are still unknown. In this project Lude Franke will identify these risk factors by using large amounts of genetic and gene expression data to study the interplay between genetic risk factors, the role of different

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BBMRI-NL2.0 awarded €9.8 million

BBMRI-NL2.0: building on the Dutch biobank On Tuesday 1st July, BBMRI-NL2.0 was awarded €9.8 million as part of the National Roadmap of Large Research Infrastructures. It is one of six facilities receiving a grant from NWO. The award was announced during a ceremony at Leiden University Medical Centre. Professor Cisca Wijmenga (UMCG) is director of this large-scale biobanking project. (BBMRI stands for Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure) BBMRI-NL will join forces with EPI2 and CTMM-TraIT in July 2014  │   BBMRI-NL embarks upon its second phase: BBMRI-NL2.0 The new endeavour will comprise BBMRI-NL and all the biobanks connected with it.

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Dutch genome deciphered

The family tree of the Dutch people has been deciphered by researchers at 5 Dutch universities under the leadership of Prof. Cisca Wijmenga of the UMCG in Groningen. The early history of the Dutch can be re-written and diseases can be better predicted. The research is described in a Nature Genetics article published yesterday. `Paul de Bakker, Cisca Wijmenga and colleagues report on The Genome of the Netherlands Project, including whole-genome sequencing of 769 individuals of Dutch ancestry from 250 parent-offspring families and construction of a phased haplotype map. Their intermediate-coverage population sequencing data set provides a complementary resource to

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2 VIDI grants awarded

May 2014: NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) has awarded VIDI grants to Jingyuan Fu for her project on “Understanding the causal relationships between the host genome, microbiota and lipids” and to Lude Franke for his project on “A novel approach to understanding how DNA variants cause disease”. (1) Understanding the causal relationships between the host genome, microbiota and lipids - Dr. Jingyuan Fu Lipid composition varies widely between human individuals and is associated with many diseases. Numerous studies have shown that the lipid composition can be affected by an individual’s genetic make-up and intestinal microbial composition. Over millions of years, microbes and humans have formed a truly symbiotic relationship.

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GUT paper on coeliac disease in F1000Prime

A recent paper by the Wijmenga group has been selected for F1000Prime. It was recommended as being of special significance in its field by Faculty Member Piero Portincasa. “Improving coeliac disease risk prediction by testing non-HLA variants additional to HLA variants” by Jihane Romanos, …Vinod Kumar, Gosia Trynka, Lude Franke, Agata Szperl, Javier Gutierrez-Achury, Cleo C van Diemen, Roan Kanninga, Soesma A Jankipersadsing, … Cisca Wijmenga, and the PreventCD Group. Published in Gut, 2014 Mar;63(3):415-22. Open access full text. Epub 2013 May 23. “In this paper, the authors highlight the importance of a more comprehensive genetic test for the diagnosis of

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Enlighten Your Research Global Award: Virtual Machine Images for Life Science Research

Denver (USA), 18 November 2013 – One of the four prestigious “Enlighten Your Research Global” awards has been given to an idea developed by an ELIXIR working group for the sharing of virtual machines over research and education networks. The concept, which was developed from an ELIXIR pilot action, makes it much easier for scientists in many different countries to find meaning in massive volumes of biomedical data in a secure manner, such as 1000 Genomes, Genome of the Netherlands, and GWAS/epidemiological data in the BBMRI biobank network. The working group is a collaboration of institutions involved in the ICT

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Trans eQTL paper by Westra et al. in Nature Genetics

Systematic identification of trans eQTLs as putative drivers of known disease associations, Westra et al. Harm-Jan Westra, … Alexandra Zhernakova, Daria V Zhernakova, … Juha Karjalainen, Sebo Withoff, … Yang Li, Ritsert C Jansen, … Lude Franke, of Dept of Genetics, UMCG, Groningen Published in Nature Genetics online: 08 September 2013 Lude Franke and colleagues report the results of a large expression QTL study performed on peripheral blood samples from 5,311 individuals. They identify trans-eQTL effects for 103 independent loci that were previously associated with complex traits at genome-wide significance, suggesting that this approach can provide insights into the downstream effects of many trait-associated variants.

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