BioSB Young Investigator Award 2017

Ahmed Mahfouz, LUMC

The selection committee of the BioSB Young Investigator Award 2017 has selected this year's award winner! The winner is: Ahmed Mahfouz, LUMC. Ahmed will receive the award at the award ceremony on April 4 and he will give an honorary lecture afterward. 


Ahmed Mahfouz is Assistant Professor in a member of the Computational Biology Center of LUMC and a visiting researcher at Hagen Tilgner’s Lab at Weill Cornell Medical College (New York, USA). His research focuses on using single cell-omics to understand biological processes and behavior, especially in the brain. Ahmed finished his bachelor’s in Systems and Biomedical Engineering (2008) and M.Sc. in Communication and Information Technology (2010) in Cairo, Egypt. Afterwards, he moved to The Netherlands to start his PhD on developing computational methods to mine spatio-temporal transcriptome atlases of the brain at the Delft Bioinformatics Lab of TU Delft. In 2014, Ahmed received a fellowship from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) to visit Evan Eichler’s Lab at the University of Washington (Seattle, USA) where he worked on identifying autism risk genes.


Insights from Mining Transcriptomic Brain Maps

Brain maps of gene expression provide valuable information about region- and age-specific roles of genes in the brain. These maps, however, pose many computational challenges owing to the high dimensionality across genes, brain regions, and development stages. I will show how we used computational methods to analyze brain maps from the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences to better understand basic molecular mechanisms, such as signaling pathways of steroid receptors in different brain regions, and how the 3D structure of the genome affects gene co-expression in the cortex. I will further demonstrate how we mined these brain maps to enhance our understanding of neurodevelopmental diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Finally, I will describe how we dealt with the complexity of the data by employing a nonlinear dimension reduction method (tSNE) to visually explore these brain maps, and how we integrated that into a new webtool named “Brainscope”. 

Call for nominations

During the BioSB 2017 on April 4, we will present the BioSB Young Investigator Award 2017. The award ceremony is planned on Day 1 of the conference (April 4th). The winner will receive a prize of 500 Euros sponsored by the BioSB research school and will present an honorary lecture.


The candidate must have conducted his/her bioinformatics or systems biology research primarily in a Dutch institute. The primary result on which the award will be based will be the PhD thesis written by the candidate. Therefore, the final version of the thesis of the candidate should have been submitted to the PhD committee at the candidate's university on March 1, 2017 at the latest.

Other criteria that might be considered by the award committee are:

  • The candidate significantly contributed to the idea of the research;
  • The research of the candidate resulted in novel or improved bioinformatics or systems biology methodologies;
  • The research of the candidate advanced life sciences research;
  • The candidate independently conducted the research;
  • The research resulted in a scientific publication, software application or database;
  • The work of the candidate has given broad visibility of bioinformatics or systems biology in the life sciences field;
  • The candidate has otherwise significantly contributed to bioinformatics/systems biology or the bioinformatics/systems biology community in the Netherlands.


Each nomination must be accompanied with:

  • Name and affiliation of candidate
  • Motivation for nomination by group leader of candidate
  • Curriculum Vitae of the candidate
  • A URL to the final version of the PhD thesis (preferably to the PDF of the printed version)

You can join the competition by filling out the BioSB YIA submission form. - Submission is closed!

Submission deadline: March 1, 2017 

Award committee

Each year the chair will leave the Award Committee after the conference and invite a new member to the committee. For 2017 the members of the committee are:

Dr. Christian Fleck, Wageningen UR
Dr. Patrick Kemmeren, Princess Máxima Center for pediatric oncology
Dr. Alexander Schönhuth, CWI
Dr. Sacha van Hijum, Radboudumc



Sara Pulit (UMC Utrecht) winner of the BioSB Young Investigator Award 2016





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