Dick de Ridder
Dr. ir. Dick de Ridder
Delft Bioinformatics Lab, Delft University of Technology
Group size: 5 (subgroup within group of prof.dr. Marcel Reinders)
1. What is the leading research theme in your group?
"Developing algorithms that enable us to integrate biological data with existing biological knowledge to build predictive models, which in turn help biologists. For example, we have worked on models to predict fluxes in microorganisms based on gene expression data. Another example is using data on protein sequence and function to predict protein-protein interactions, which helps to understand biological networks. In terms of applications, our main focus is on microorganisms used for industrial production of food, fuels and chemicals, such as yeast and fungi. How do these organisms operate and what can we do to improve their performance?"
2. With what type of groups or organisations do you collaborate most and why?
"We work closely with the biotech engineers and microbiologists here in Delft, also as part of the new Platform Green Synthetic Biology. We also collaborate with groups working on network theory and on pattern recognition. Basic research that we apply in our algorithms and models. DSM is an industrial partner in our research. I would like to have more collaborations with industry, as the work they do offers interesting challenges for bioinformaticians."
3. From your research perspective, what are the main challenges in bioinformatics right now?
"A short term challenge is finding a way to work through the host of sequencing data in the most efficient manner to identify the relevant information. Developing adequate algorithms for data mining is crucial here. In the long run, a grand challenge is to move from a descriptive approach to data integration to a level where we can actually predict the necessary experiments to achieve a certain goal. In synthetic biology, this could for example result in predicting the DNA sequence that is required to generate a yeast strain with certain desired properties."
4. What is the most important task of a group leader?
"Motivate and stimulate people to take on a challenge, to not shy away from the difficult questions."
5. How would you describe the atmosphere in your group?
"Pleasant, both on a professional and social level we interact regularly. Computer scientists are prone to stick to their computers, but the atmosphere is collaborative, people are open to brainstorming and helping each other out. And that results in cross-fertilisation between projects."
Text by Esther Thole.