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RNA Biology & Applied Bioinformatics

Group leader Dr Timo Breit

In recent years RNA has increasingly gained attention of life sciences researchers as a key regulator of molecular processes in living organisms. This renewed interest was mainly sparked by the discovery of miRNA and other important non-coding RNAs, as well as the development of transcriptomics technologies such as microarray technology and next-generation sequencing.

The importance of RNA is underlined by the fact that it is estimated that over 70% of the human genome is transcribed into RNA, while less than 2% of the total genomic sequences encode the ~25,000 protein-coding genes. This is evidence for a major role of RNA in many cellular processes, such as gene-expression regulation, epigenetic regulation, splicing, signal transduction, molecular transport, and localization.

To gain insight in the regulatory roles of RNA, our research focusses on the characterization of maternal RNAs and cell-free RNAs combined with research to the dynamics of these transcriptome components. As we have our own next-generation system, we will also try to discover new types of RNA.

This kind of research demands the use of advanced omics technologies and associated bioinformatics. Since omics bioinformatics are still immature, we also do applied-bioinformatics research on how to optimally design an omics experiment, analyze the data, and interpret the results.

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The RB&AB research group is interwoven with the MAD: Dutch Genomics Service & Support Provider, which is the genomics and transcriptomics expertise center of the University of Amsterdam.

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Research lines

Dr R.J. (Rob) Dekker – smallRNA in disease and development

Dr M.J. (Martijs) Jonker – Genome-wide biomarkers

Drs. J. (Han) Rauwerda - Applied bioinformatics