GEN-ZEMO: Investing the mechanisms of genetic disorders using the zebrafish model system

01 January 2018 → 30 June 2022
Federal funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Laboratory medicine
    • Palliative care and end-of-life care
    • Regenerative medicine
    • Other basic sciences
    • Laboratory medicine
    • Palliative care and end-of-life care
    • Regenerative medicine
    • Other clinical sciences
    • Other health sciences
    • Nursing
    • Other paramedical sciences
    • Laboratory medicine
    • Palliative care and end-of-life care
    • Regenerative medicine
    • Other translational sciences
    • Other medical and health sciences
zebrafish mechanisms
Project description

The networking activities proposed in this grant are aimed at making important new connections between Ghent University (UGent) and Nitte University, with the goal of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship leading to further scientific collaboration in the future. The currently active Memorandum of Understanding between both institutes underscores their commitment to a fruitful collaboration. We propose to use the projects currently supported by BELSPO and DST as a foundation for this network, by capitalizing on the resources and technical expertise the respective partners have to offer. More specifically, we propose to build a strong network by coordinating staff and/or student exchanges, organizing joint workshops, and planning attendance and presentations at conferences in Belgium and India. This will allow the partners to learn more about each other's research programs and will enable them to learn valuable new techniques or tap into important new resources.

A shared interest in both institutes is the use of zebrafish as an experimental model for studying the consequences of genetic defects in the whole animal. The Center for Medical Genetics Ghent (CMGG) is very experienced in gene editing (CRISPR-Cas9) tools and genotyping analysis via deep sequencing, as well as in other next generation sequencing applications including the study of the epigenome. Learning these techniques through several student and staff exchanges will be very valuable for the Indian partner in order to further their research program. The Indian partner on the other hand has access to very rare resources in the form of compound libraries based on Indian traditional medicine, which are useful for high-throughput screening of zebrafish embryos. The Belgian partner can make use of this screening tool to test zebrafish-based disease models, while teaching the scientists at Nitte University how to set up and develop in vivo phenotypic high-throughput screens. Given the interest of the clinical geneticists at the CMGG in rare heritable connective tissue disorders, it will be very helpful to gain access to the wealth of patient data and samples available from the Indian hospitals and genetic centers collaborating with Nitte University. This fits perfectly into the original mission of the BeMGI consortium, which aims at using the most advanced genomic tools to further the understanding of the mechanisms of disease. Staff exchange and visits to the Indian partner will enable scientists from UGent to explore the possibilities to tap into these resources for future collaborative research projects. The aim of this exchange would not only be to investigate interesting samples using the advanced technologies available at the CMGG, but also to help the Indian partner to develop their own genetic analysis pipeline up to and including mechanistic studies in zebrafish models. Taken together, the proposed networking activities are expected to not only further the ongoing research projects in both institutes, but also to lay the foundations for a long-term collaborative relationship between UGent and Nitte University