The Wageningen Centre for Systems Biology (WCSB), part of Wageningen UR, was officially launched on 19 April 2012.
Set up to coordinate systems biology research at Wageningen UR, WCSB will be the primary cooperation partner for research centres and industry in this specialist field. The WCSB’s research focuses on the entire spectrum of biological systems, from DNA to ecosystem, and involves topics relevant to plants, digestion and microbes.
Jaap Molenaar and Vitor Martins Dos Santos lead the WCSB together. During the kick-off meeting Molenaar explained that a 'Virtual Modelling Lab' would be formed within the WCSB, in which research concentrates on three topics: Virtual Plant, Virtual Microbe, and Virtual Gut. “Together, the researchers involved will soon become a vibrant community of modellers who work closely with experimentalists,” he continued. Martins Dos Santos spoke about the goal of translating successful research from the DNA level into concrete technologies and products.
During the launch meeting, Louise Vet, director of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), spoke about the use of the systems approach in ecology and indicated her enthusiasm about the cooperation with the WCSB. “In terms of ecology and systems biology we have really found each other.” Roel Bovenberg one of the speakers, in turn, stressed that DSM wishes to participate actively in scientific research coming years. Other speakers underlined the importance of relevant parties cooperating more closely, within and outside of systems biology.
Improving research in systems biology has been one of the strategic goals of Wageningen UR since 2004. With the establishment of the WCSB and the financing of 14 systems biology research projects under its auspices, Wageningen UR aims to become a strategic partner in the field of research in systems biology. The WCSB’s research focuses on three themes:
- Learning and predicting how plants respond to stress and the consequences this has for yield and productivity
- Understanding the functioning of the intestinal tract of mammals in relation to their diet to anticipate or remedy obesity
- Developing models that can help in the modification of microorganisms for the production of fine chemicals, commodity compounds and energy