Key young talent at VIB

17 December 2018
VIB-UGent center for inflammation research
Claude Libert (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research):  “Steven Timmermans is a bioinformatician in my lab. During his PhD, he has combined two key tasks: providing services to other people in the group (analyzing CHIPSeq, RNASeq and other complex datasets), and building a new research line under the guidance of Yvan Saeys and myself. He has constructed a searchable database (mousepost. be), which collects all key protein polymorphisms in all sequenced mouse strains. This groundbreaking database was recently promoted by Trends in Genetics. What I admire most in Steven is his flexibility in dealing with many different datasets and his perseverance in problem-solving. Bioinformatics expertise is crucial, but to see its daily impact on our projects is amazing. As a PhD student, Steven is first author of publications in PNAS, JCI Insight, Trends in Genetics, Mammalian Genome (twice) and shares first authorship on a PNAS paper.”

Steven Timmermans (PhD Student at the VIBUGent Center for Inflammation Research): “The VIB environment is fantastic. Lots of data is generated, there is always room for wet science confirmations, and there is sufficient bioinformatics expertise with Yvan Saeys to help me in my work. On top of that, I have opportunities to attend conferences and courses at VIB. I also want to credit Ghent University for great programs in biochemistry and biotechnology.”

Katrien Van Der Borght (postdoc at the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research): “I learned about interesting career paths and was taught valuable skills to be successful in finding new challenges outside academia.”

VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology and and and VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology
Patrick Willems and Lam Dai Vu are PhD students shared between the lab of Kris Gevaert (shared between the lab of Kris Gevaert (VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology) and the labs of Frank Van Breusegem and Ive De Smet (VIB-UGent Center for Plants Systems Biology), respectively. Patrick works at the interface of wet-lab plant work and dry-lab bioinformatics to explore the possibilities of various big data sets in addressing specific research questions and making new biological discoveries. He has already co-authored 13 publications. With the help of the VIB Bioinformatics core, he recently developed the Plant PTM Viewer , an online web tool providing a central resource for 20 post-translational plant protein modifications.
Dai combines proteomics and functional characterization of selected proteins to investigate temperature signaling in plants. This combined expertise already resulted in his co-authorship of 12 publications, including several international collaborations.

VIB-UGent Center for Plants Systems Biology
In early 2014, Anaxi Houbaert started his PhD in the lab of Jenny Russinova (VIB-UGent Center for Plants Systems Biology). By combining proteomics, genetics, biochemical and microscopy techniques, Anaxi discovered that the substrate specificity of the GSK3s is controlled via scaffolding and localization changes, resulting in the promotion of either stomatal formation or epidermal cell differentiation. These findings led to a prestigious publication in Nature (2018), in addition to a collaborative publication in Plant Physiology (2017) on stomatal development that Anaxi also co-authored.

Cagatay Aydin, postdoc working with Sebastian Haesler: “My PhD supervisor was Vincent Bonin (NERF). I have been working at NERF since 2012. This institute helped me develop into an independent scientist by providing an energetic and inspiring environment. In using state-of-theart techniques and having access to cutting-edge facilities, I was able to conduct experiments that I’d only dreamed of before. This institute stimulated my creativity, and this has resulted in beautiful papers and fruitful collaborations. I strongly
recommend NERF to every young, ambitious scientist interested in pushing their limits.”

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research
Rodrigo Gallardo (postdoc at the Rodrigo Gallardo (postdoc at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research): “VIB is such a powerful environment for basic and applied research that good ideas and solid science can become start-ups. There are few things more rewarding than seeing your work take on a life of its own.”

VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology
Lien Van Hoecke is a PhD student in the lab of Xavier Saelens (Xavier Saelens (VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology). The main aim of Lien’s PhD research is to develop and apply new mRNAbased immunotherapies to combat cancer and viral infections. Thanks to collaborations with labs from different VIB centers, her research has generated exciting new findings in the field of anti-cancer immunotherapy (Van Hoecke et al., Nature Communication, 2018). Furthermore, VIB’s innovation and business team has been instrumental in securing intellectual property rights based on Lien’s findings and in attracting the interest of a private partner that plans to bring this immunotherapy closer to the patient.

Go back to the overview 
 'Talent pool for young researchers'


Steven Timmermans 

Katrien Van Der Borght

Patrick Willems

Cagatay Aydin

Rodrigo Gallardo

Lien Van Hoecke