Professor Dr. Martijn Huynen
Comparative Genomics, CMBI/Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboudumc
"There is still a large gap between data analysis and quantitative modelling and this is the bottleneck towards real biological understanding"
1. What is the leading research theme in your group?
"Predicting protein function and protein interactions in human mitochondria. To this end, we develop methods for data analysis and we use those methods to learn more about mitochondrial systems and their role in human health and disease."
2. With what type of groups or organisations do you collaborate most and why?
"We mostly work together with molecular biology groups that do basic research into a protein system that is relevant to our own research. Together, we can deepen our understanding of a certain biological system, which to me is the best part of doing science. That is what it's all about. We also collaborate with genetics groups that are linked to the clinic. For example, when they encounter a certain gene in a patient that they want to know more about, but we also use their expertise to test our predictions on genes we discovered. Vice versa, we inform them on newly discovered proteins that we think are relevant to a specific congenital disease and have them sequence these in patients."
3. From your research perspective, what are the main challenges in bioinformatics right now?
"We have got all this data and we have become very good at combining and integrating data and recognizing certain patterns in the data, but what is missing is an ability to come up with good quantitative models. We think we have a good view of how a system works, but once you start to describe it in a mathematical model you realize what you don't know yet. There is still a large gap between data analysis and quantitative modelling and this is the bottleneck towards real biological understanding."
4. What is the most important task of a group leader?
"Aside from providing research ideas and critical feedback, it is to stimulate people to realize their full potential. To link people to each other, make sure they interact and collaborate. It really is a management role."
5. How would you describe the atmosphere in your group?
"Positive, motivated, open to new ideas, interested in each other's work, critical and also gezellig."