‘All my colleagues gathered together’

Fourteen talented scientists at the University of Groningen and the UMCG have each received a VENI grant of up to €250,000 from scientific research backer NWO. Bioinformatician Yang Li (38) is working on systems genetics of metabolic flow rate.

What was the first thing you did when you were awarded the grant?

‘I was so happy and I still am. I called my husband and daughter first. After that I informed my co-workers. We were all waiting for the news. The next day all my colleagues gathered together and congratulated me with celebratory ice-creams in the hall.’

veni yang

What is your research about?

‘My research is about finding the genetic factors that are responsible for differences in phenotype (e.g. height, disease or an abundance of metabolites). I am interested in developing computational and bioinformatic approaches for analysing multidimensional biological data for connecting genetics (DNA) to phenotypes. For this VENI project I am particularly studying how DNA variations influence metabolic flow rate through metabolic pathways.’

Why is it so interesting?                    

‘Metabolic reactions exist in every living organism, but we have very limited knowledge on how they are regulated. This project is the first to study genetic regulators of metabolic flow rate in a genome-wide fashion. We hope to answer questions like: which metabolic reactions should be optimized for improving the yield of desired metabolic products; which ones should be redirected to prevent development of certain diseases; or which pieces of DNA are actually responsible for a disease? The analysis not only requires novel methodologies, but if this study is successful, it will also open up a whole new area of biomedical research.’

In about three years I will have discovered…

‘Genetic candidates for improving biotechnological production systems and an advanced strategy to design efficient microbial factories to produce biofuels, pharmaceuticals and feedstock. Moreover, it may also open up new ways to identify novel therapeutic targets against metabolic diseases.’

Why are you a scientist and not, for example, an entrepreneur?

‘I enjoy being a researcher and I learn new things every day. Every day I face new challenges and discover new problems. Then I think of all the ways to interpret and solve them. It’s fun.’

 

RUG Veni’s

En Eva Heinen was onvindbaar…

Planoloog Eva Heinen kreeg een VENI-subsidie voor onderzoek naar duurzaam transport. Jammer dat Cambridge haar heeft weggekaapt.

‘It was the perfect time to get such good news’

Alex Pigot is thrilled by the biodiversity in Madagascar. He wants to know: why on earth are there so many species?

‘Ik werd ongeduldig, duurde me te lang’

Waarom werken Seychellenzangers samen bij het opvoeden van hun kinderen? Eh? Sjouke Anne Kingma heeft het natuurlijk over vogels.

‘All my colleagues gathered together’

Bioinformatician Yang Li is working on sytems genetics of metabolic flow rate. What a joy! ‘Every day I learn new things.’

‘Ik heb heel hard ‘yes’ geroepen’

Martin de Borst riep heel hard ‘yes’ . Hij kreeg geld voor zijn doel om nierpatienten langer zonder dialyse te laten leven.

‘My wife didn’t even answer the phone’

Astronomer Vibor Jelic is going back 13,2 billion years back in time. He joins captain Picard to Galaxy. Lucky guy!

‘Ik kreeg tranen in mijn ogen’

Suzan Folkerts graaft zich in in bijbels. De canon van Nederland, die zegt dat Luther als eerste de bijbel vertaalde, klopt niet, weet ze nu.

‘The least I owe them is a big party’

Manuel Nuno Melo examines how different drugs interact with cell membranes. And he owes his family a big party.

‘Ik kon het niet geloven, mijn zus moest ’t checken’

Roemeense en Britste televisiemakers werkten samen tijdens de Koude Oorlog, ontdekte televisiehistoricus Dana Mustata.

‘I was welcomed with roses and a meal’

Alicia Lammerts van Bueren examines bacteria in our intestine and received a VENI grant. A proud husband gave her roses.

‘Ik geloofde het eerst niet’

Hoe kan het dat wij al weten wat er gezegd wordt, voordat het gezegd wordt? Jakub Dotlacil onderzoekt hoe taal werkt.

‘Ik zat daar gelukzalig te zijn’

Marketingdeskundige Marijke Leliveld onderzoekt Pampers. Het bedrijf doneert aan Unicef. Maar geeft de consument dan zelf nog?

‘Ik heb heel even gehuild’

Viroloog Izabela Rodenhuis-Zybert gaat tijgermuggen onderzoeken met haar Veni. Tenminste, de infecties die ze veroorzaken.

‘Ik heb meteen een sollicitatie afgezegd’

Martijn Wieling kreeg een Veni-subsidie. Hij gaat sensoren op de tong zetten van Nederlanders die Engels praten. Wat gaat er mis?

30-09-2013