Two Ghent University researchers listed as Rising Stars in Proteomics and Metabolomics

(27-01-2021) The Journal of Proteome Research has published a list of the "Rising Stars in Proteomics and Metabolomics: 40 under 40". Two out of four Europeans mentioned conduct their research at Ghent University: Tim Van Den Bossche and Dr. Maarten Dhaenens.

What are proteomics and metabolomics

The biological world is built up out of small molecules (metabolites) and macromolecules (nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids). The large-scale study of each of these molecules is named by simply appending -omics to the specific molecule. This is why, respectively, they are called metabolomics, genomics, proteomics, glycomics en lipidomics. Even though these bio-molecules all have very different but often overlapping functions, it is mostly the proteins that mediate the conversion of metabolites.

Since both proteins and metabolites are often studied and measured using mass spectrometry, metabolomics and proteomics are generally mentioned together. In short, these fields of study aim to describe new biological processes using a very broad perspective. They are applicable to all living creatures and therefore form the basis for molecular biology.

Maarten DhaenensMaarten Dhaenens

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Pharmaceutics

Maarten developed a new mass spectrometric method for studying histones, the protein that plays an important role in epigenetics, the influence of our environment on our genes. Histones paved the way for multicellular organisms 2.7 billion years ago by making it possible for different genes to come to expression in different cell types. By doing this, cells from one organism, with the same genome, were able to develop differently and take up different functions. Aside from this, BOF funding also allowed him to develop a new, protein-based test to detect Sars-Cov-2 using nasal swabs. The United Kingdom has started using these tests already.

Tim Van Den BosscheTim Van Den Bossche

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Biomolecular Medicine 

As a bioinformatician, Tim mainly focusses on the study of complex microbiomes, such as the one found in our intestines. In his doctoral study he compares commonly used data-analysis methods in metaproteomics as well as researching new techniques to glean more biological information from existing data. He does the latter using techniques based on artificial intelligence (machine learning).

More information about both research projects is available on the website of the FWO. The list 'Rising Stars in Proteomics and Metabolomics: 40 under 40' was published in The Journal of Proteome.