prof. Vanessa Vermeirssen (PhD)

CRIG member
Vanessa Vermeirssen


principal investigator – Lab for Computational Biology, Integromics and Gene Regulation (CBIGR)
assistant professor - Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology, Faculty of Sciences & Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent

 

Research focus

Technological advancements have led to a wealth of omics data in bulk, but also more and more at single cell level: genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, ... The capacity to integrate multi-omics data, to something more than the sum of the existing data, is key to elucidating the causes of complex diseases such as neuro-inflammatory diseases and cancer. Regulatory networks are a valuable tool to map systems-wide the relationships between DNA, RNA, proteins and metabolites and to understand the molecular mechanisms by which these molecules influence health and disease.
Our research focuses on acquiring a functional understanding of gene regulation and signaling through multi-omics data integration and regulatory network inference. To this end, we develop and apply computational approaches involving statistics, bioinformatics and machine learning. Our ultimate goal is to use this knowledge in the development of novel preventive or therapeutic strategies for successful personal healthcare. 
The CBIGR team has internationally recognized expertise in systems biology and bioinformatics, at the interface between biology and informatics. In cancer research, we aim to identify novel driver genes and pathways and characterize tumors and the interaction with their environment. At single cell level, we investigate plasticity and regulatory heterogeneity as responsible factors for drug escape and therapeutic failure. Current projects focus on cancers of the nervous system such as neuroblastoma and glioblastoma. We are also embedded in a multidisciplinary consortium of the inflammatory gut-brain axis where we aim to unravel the molecular mechanisms of gut-brain communication in neuro-inflammatory disorders.
 

Biography

Since October 2019, Vanessa Vermeirssen is head of the Laboratory for Computational Biology, Integromics and Gene Regulation (CBIGR) at the Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology (WE14 – Inflammation Research Centre) and Department of Biomolecular Medicine (GE31 – Center for Medical Genetics Ghent) and new group member at the Cancer Research Institute Ghent (CRIG) at UGent. She has internationally recognized expertise in systems biology and bioinformatics, more specifically in gene regulatory networks (GRNs), network inference and omics data integration. Her strength lies at the interface between biology and informatics. Experimentally, she has been developing high-throughput methods for mapping GRNs. Computationally, she has been instrumental in developing ensemble methodologies and benchmarking for GRN inference and multi-omics data integration. Currently, the work focusses on understanding gene regulation towards personalized medicine, using statistics, bioinformatics and machine learning, as well as high-throughput biology (bulk and single cell RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, ChIP-seq) in the framework of GRNs. We are applying, benchmarking and optimizing computational methods in transcriptomics and epigenomics data integration, drug response prediction, single cell analysis and multi-omics data integration. The application focus of the lab is on disorders of the central nervous system. In glioblastoma and neuroblastoma tumors, we investigate plasticity and regulatory heterogeneity as responsible factors for drug escape and therapeutic failure in cancer. In neuroinflammatory disorders, we study pan-neuroinflammation and regulators and pathways of the gut-brain axis.
 

Research team

Contact & links