Assistant Professor Thierry Voet - Associate Faculty

Thierry's group focuses on developing methods that characterise the DNA and RNA in a single cell to enable the exploration of DNA-mutation, the genetic differences between cells in a person's body and the relation of this diversity to disease.

Thierry is developing methods to determine all classes of genetic variants in the DNA of a single cell (genome), as well as the RNA molecules the cell transcribes (transcriptome), using next-generation sequencing. He is applying his findings to study mutagenesis (the mechanism and rate of genetic mutation), somatic genetic heterogeneity (the degree of genetic difference between individual cells in a person's body) and their effect on disease. He is also researching single-cell methods that can be applied to improving diagnosis in the clinic. His work at the Sanger Institute builds on the work he was developing as a visiting researcher in the Cancer Genome Project; he is exploring how next-generation sequencing technologies can be used for single-cell genome studies.

Thierry Voet graduated in 1998 as a Bio-engineer in Cell and Gene Biotechnology at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven, Belgium). In 2003, he obtained his Ph.D at the Faculty of Medicine by developing human artificial chromosomes to study fundamental aspects of mammalian mitosis and meiosis, and to apply it as a tool for mammalian transgenesis. As a result of his research, he was awarded a VIB young investigator award.

In 2007, he joined the SymBioSys team (Department of Human Genetics, KU Leuven) as a postdoctoral researcher where he mainly developed methods for SNP-profiling and DNA copy-number profiling of single human cells. Applying this technology to single human blastomeres led to novel understanding of genome stability during human cleavage stage embryogenesis. In 2010, he became a visiting scientist in the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute to explore the benefits of next-generation sequencing technologies for single-cell genomics.

Currently, he is a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Leuven, where he founded the Laboratory of Reproductive Genomics (Department of Human Genetics, KU Leuven). Thierry’s team is part of SymBioSys which represents a KU Leuven Center for Computational Systems Biology. He lectures undergraduates at KU Leuven on Human Embryology, Advanced Studies in Genetics, Hot Topics in Genetics and Initiation Scientific Education. He is also docent in an inter-university post-graduate course ‘Permanent Education Course in Human Genetics’ organized by the Belgian Society of Human Genetics.

Selected Publications

  • Microarray analysis of copy number variation in single cells.

    Konings P, Vanneste E, Jackmaert S, Ampe M, Verbeke G, Moreau Y, Vermeesch JR and Voet T

    Nature protocols 2012;7;2;281-310

  • Breakage-fusion-bridge cycles leading to inv dup del occur in human cleavage stage embryos.

    Voet T, Vanneste E, Van der Aa N, Melotte C, Jackmaert S, Vandendael T, Declercq M, Debrock S, Fryns JP, Moreau Y, D'Hooghe T and Vermeesch JR

    Human mutation 2011;32;7;783-93

  • The human cleavage stage embryo is a cradle of chromosomal rearrangements.

    Voet T, Vanneste E and Vermeesch JR

    Cytogenetic and genome research 2011;133;2-4;160-8

  • Chromosome instability is common in human cleavage-stage embryos.

    Vanneste E, Voet T, Le Caignec C, Ampe M, Konings P, Melotte C, Debrock S, Amyere M, Vikkula M, Schuit F, Fryns JP, Verbeke G, D'Hooghe T, Moreau Y and Vermeesch JR

    Nature medicine 2009;15;5;577-83

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