Erasmus Summer Programme

Masterclass: Advances in Genomics Research [ESP63]

Event highlights

Course Code





August 14, 2017

Total hours


Course days





Erasmus MC, Querido Lecture Room

In this Masterclass, timely topics in genomics research will be addressed. Four renowned researchers will address the latest developments in epigenetics, forensic genomics, personalized medicine, whole genome sequencing, and new genetic variants.

Moderator Professor André Uitterlinden, PhD


Monday August 14
“SIMPLEX” genetics
Most researchers know the diagram where genetic variants are either common with a small effect (the area of “complex genetics”) or rare with a large effect (Mendelian, or “simple genetics”). I will introduce the exciting and highly relevant field of “simplex” genetics, i.e. variants with fairly large effects and not too low or too high frequencies. I will us our recent work combining GWAS and whole genome sequencing on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a lethal neurodegenerative disease with a life-time risk of 1:300 as an example. Apparently, the etiology of all ALS is characterized by a disproportionate contribution of rare genetic variation. ALS is not simply a collection of unique rare diseases with a monogenetic cause nor is it a diagnostic continuum with a complex contribution of thousands of small effect factors. ALS is ‘in-between’, which I call “simplex”, which might also be true for many other human diseases.

Professor Jan Veldink, MD PhD
Professor of Neurology and Neurogenetics, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands


Tuesday August 15
Metabolomics and organ-on-chip: clinical applications
Where genomics has proven to be successful to predict disease risk, metabolomics can assess the actual health state and monitor disease development and treatment response. Therefore the combination of metabolomics and genomics are promising to realize personalized medicine by (i) diagnosing disease development in time, (ii) supporting the choice of the proper pharmacological treatment in the clinic and (iii) identifying novel treatment options in disease areas where now successful treatment options are available, or treatment often is inefficient. Different clinical metabolomics applications in Alzheimer disease and hepatitis B will discussed. Next, the use of microfluidic-based advanced in-vitro models with organotypic characteristics will be introduced, and how this platform can be used to study disease mechanisms and disease pathways identified using metabolomics. An outlook will be given how metabolomics will impact clinical research and ultimately clinical decision support.

Professor Thomas Hankemeier, PhD 
Leiden University Medical Center and Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands


Wednesday August 16
Mitochondria-related disease: a tale of 2 genomes
Mitochondrial diseases are clinically and genetically heterogeneous, often fatal diseases with hundreds of genes potentially involved, either in the mitochondrial or the nuclear DNA. Using next-generation sequencing, inherited or de novo defects in known and unknown genes are now being identified in around 70% of the patients. Subsequent functional studies in cell lines, iPSC and zebrafish have generated new insights in the pathophysiology and transmission of mitochondrial diseases. Based on this data and systems biology approaches, new options for treatment (compounds or autologous muscle stem cells) and prevention (preimplantation genetic diagnosis, mitochondrial replacement treatment) are emerging for these currently untreatable diseases.

Professor Bert Smeets, PhD
Professor in Clinical Genomics with focus on mitochondrial diseases, Director Genome Center Maastricht, Department of Genetics and Cell Biology, Maastricht University, the Netherlands


Thursday August 17
Understanding the virome in relation to patient and population health
After decades of success in controlling infectious diseases, the global changes in demographics, travel and trade have had an increasing impact on the dynamics of viral diseases. As a consequence, novel infections are introduced, and the ecology and epidemiology of known viral diseases is changing, as exemplified by the recent outbreaks of MERS coronavirus, Ebola in West Africa, or Zika in the Americas.  Such outbreaks illustrate the importance of understanding the intricate balance between viruses, hosts, and ecosystems in relation to global development. This “one health” concept in infectious disease research will be discussed with a focus on the virome in relation to human health.

Professor Marion Koopmans, PhD
Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands


The Masterclasses are open without registration or fee for participants of the Erasmus Summer Programme, the NIHES programmes, employees of the Erasmus University Medical Center and public at large.

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