dr. Pieter-Jan Volders (PhD)

CRIG member
Pieter-Jan Volders

postdoctoral researcher - OncoRNALab, Center for Medical Genetics (UGent)
Principal investigators: prof. Jo Vandesompele (PhD) & prof. Pieter Mestdagh (PhD)
postdoctoral researcher - Center for Medical Biotechnology (VIB-UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Lennart Martens (PhD)


Research focus

Advances in sequencing technologies have uncovered pervasive transcription of the eukaryotic genome outside of annotated protein-coding loci. Most of these novel transcripts are long (> 200 nucleotides), lack large open reading frames (ORFs) and homology to annotated protein-coding genes. Termed long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), these transcripts comprise a vast, diverse and largely unexplored class of RNA, outnumbering any other gene class in the human genome. The few dozen lncRNAs that have been studied in detail play important roles in a wide range of cellular processes during normal development and in homeostasis and disease, including cancer.

During my PhD research, I developed a human lncRNA database LNCipedia (Volders et al., 2013; Volders et al., 2015). In this public resource, lncRNA transcripts are catalogued and annotated with information such as RNA structure, protein-coding potential, conservation, and literature if available. With over 200 citations and more than 150 visitors per day, our database has proven to be valuable for the lncRNA research community. Moreover, it has been key in the establishment of the lncRNA research at Ghent University. Currently, several research groups from different faculties have joined forces to unravel the role of lncRNAs in different developmental and disease contexts, relying on LNCipedia as state-of-the-art reference and on the non-coding RNA expertise present in the Vandesompele Lab.

My work in collaboration with the CompOmics lab (UGent/VIB) is focussed on using tandem mass spectrometry and machine learning to identify with high confidence (small) proteins encoded by miss-annotated lncRNAs.


  • 2020 - now: senior postdoctoral researcher (FWO)
    VIB, Medical Biotechnology Center, CompOmics lab
    Ghent University, Center for Medical Genetics, Vandesompele lab
  • 2017: 6 month visiting postdoctoral researcher
    Rinn lab, Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard University, USA
  • 2015 - 2020: postdoctoral researcher
    VIB, Medical Biotechnology Center, CompOmics lab
    Ghent University, Center for Medical Genetics, Vandesompele lab
    Lost in translation? Settling the debate on the protein-coding potential of lncRNAs
  • 2011 - 2015: PhD in biomedical sciences:
    Ghent University, Center for Medical Genetics Ghent, Vandesompele lab
    Functional annotation of long non-coding RNAs in cancer
  • 2009 - 2011: Master of Bioscience Engineering: cell and gene biotechnology, major in computational biology.
    Ghent University
  • 2005 - 2009: Bachelor of Biology
    Hasselt University

Key publications

  • LNCipedia 5: towards a reference set of human long non- coding RNAs. Nucleic Acids Research, 2019 (PMID: 30371849)
  • RNAcentral: a hub of information for non-coding RNA sequences.Nucleic Acids Research, 2019 (PMID: 30395267)
  • LNCipedia: a Database for Annotated Human lncRNA Transcript Sequences and Structures. Nucleic Acids Research, 2013 (PMID: 23042674)
  • Noncoding After All: Biases in Proteomics Data Do Not Explain Observed Absence of lncRNA Translation Products.Journal of Proteome Research, 2017 (PMID: 28534634)
  • High-throughput functional analysis of lncRNA core promoters elucidates rules governing tissue specificity. Genome research, 2019 (PMID: 30683753)

Contact & links