In this blog-interview series, we present the Radboudumc Technology Centers (RTCs) – your gateway to technological expertise, state-of-the-art equipment, and invaluable resources. In each part we spotlight one of the 19 RTCs housed within our organization.
Welcome, everyone! Today, we have Janneke Weiss from the Radboudumc Technology Center Genomics with us.
Hi, Janneke. Nice to have you on board. Let’s start with the basics as we usually do. Can you tell us who you are?
“Sure, I can! We're the Radboudumc Technology Center Genomics, and our mission is to be the backbone for researchers tackling genetic questions. Our team is a mix of directors, researchers, managers, and skilled technicians. We're deeply connected with the genome diagnostics facility of the Academic Alliance Genetics of Radboudumc and Maastricht UMC+. Within the Radboudumc, the RTC Genomics operates at the Radboudumc at the Department of Human Genetics. To find us, you can follow route 848 for the people working here and end of route 885 for the laboratory.”
Now, let's dive into what you offer. What can researchers expect from the Radboudumc Technology Center Genomics?
“We're at the forefront of sequencing technology, offering a spectrum of services: genomics, transcriptomics, cell-free DNA analysis, epigenetics and DNA isolation. In our lab, we harbor high-end equipment such as the ±25 Hamilton robotic pipetting systems to support our workflow, our Illumina and PacBio sequencers, and the Bionano Saphyr instruments for optical genome mapping, just to name a few.”
Quite a set of equipment. Can you shed light on the ways you can help our researchers in designing the best technical strategy?
“Of course. We're the architects of genetic strategies. Whether it's short-read or long-read sequencing, we guide researchers in choosing the right platform and input material. Imagine a fully automated workflow for whole exome and (short-read) whole genome sequencing, including ISO15189 certification. This certification ensures that the wet lab analyses conducted by the Radboudumc Technology Center Genomics meet international standards for quality and competence in medical laboratories.”
Speaking of short-read and long-read sequencing, can you explain the difference between them?
“Definitely. While in short-read sequencing the genome is broken into small fragments (usually 50 to 300 bases) before being sequenced, long-read sequencing allows scientists to read longer stretches of your DNA in one go, providing a more complete and detailed picture of your genetic code."
Text continuous after image
Thank you for that! Can you share some projects or collaborations that highlight your expertise?
"Our expertise in long-read sequencing, particularly with the PacBio Revio instrument, sets us apart. We are currently the only center having a Revio instrument within The Netherlands. We've collaborated on projects like the conservation of species with the Senckenberg Research Institute, and our work was even featured in NRC handelsblad.”
That's definitely something to be proud of I would say. And what about liquid biopsy and optical genome mapping. How do you contribute in these areas?
“In collaboration with pathology, medical oncology, and lung departments, we offer a complete workflow for liquid biopsy, a non-invasive diagnostic technique that involves analyzing a sample of bodily fluids, like blood, to detect and monitor various health conditions. This workflow includes procedures such as isolation of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and targeted next generation sequencing (NGS) that allow us to detect various cancerous cells and tumors. And using optical genome mapping, we're able to take a much closer look at genome-wide structural variants, ie genetic alterations, going down to 500 base pairs in size.”
At least, you thoroughly convinced me about the expertise you bring in. If researchers are interested in your services, what's the next step? How can they get in touch?
“It’s very simple. Just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website. We usually start with an informal chat to explore options and guide on the best technique. If you prefer to visit us at route 884, please let us know in advance by email so that we can welcome you.”
And before we wrap up, I think it's worth mentioning that you had a special visit in October 2022.
[Smiles] “Indeed! We were honored to host Ernst Kuipers, the Minister of Health, Welfare, and Sport last year. It was a memorable experience.”
Well, thank you for sharing your insights, and it was a pleasure having you here. For our audience, if you are into genetics, the Radboudumc Technology Center Genomics is your go-to guide. Until next time!
Interview by Hasan Erkan
Editor Radboudumc Research Newsletter
You can find all editions of our blog series on this page