Lodewijk Sandkuijl Professor of Human Genetics
University of Groningen and the University Medical Center Groningen
Cisca Wijmenga moved to the University of Groningen in 2007 and now leads a research group of some 15-20 researchers working in the field of gut health using genomics technology to understand health and disease. Het work is focusing on the genetics of celiac disease, the role of the gut microbiome in health and disease and the development of gut-on-chip for more mechanistic research. Her research is interdisciplinary, encompassing the fields of genetics, molecular genetics, epidemiology, immunology, microbiology, computational biology and bioinformatics. Over the past 10 years, her research has led to the identification of some 40 genetic risk factors that collectively explain 50% of the genetic variation (single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs) contributing to celiac disease, one of the most common diet-induced gastrointestinal diseases affecting some 1% of Western populations. Her group has strong bioinformatics expertise and uses this in systems approaches to model regulatory gene networks perturbed by celiac disease associated genetic variation or physiological stressors like infectious agents or dietary gluten. To this end she founded a functional genomics cohort (LIfeLines Deep) of ±1500 individuals including detailed phenotypes (~1500 clinical, lifestyle, dietary features) and multi-layered ‘omics’ data (genetic, transcriptomic, epigenetic, metabolite, microbiome). Cisca Wijmenga published >550 articles and has a H-index of 117 (Google scholar). Her research is supported by an ERC advanced grant and a Gravitation grant. For her work on celiac disease she was awarded the Spinoza price in 2015. She is a member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW), the Academia Europaea, and the Dutch Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).