University of Wisconsin–Madison

An exciting year!

Looking back at 2016, it has been an exciting year, no doubt! For starters, we had our website launched to showcase our work! We are very proud of the final product, and we will continue to keep you up to date with news related to our research.

The Research Team has ploughed very hard last year (and of course the years before!) to move their experiments along. Science being science: not all ideas work out. After all, it is called RE-search for a reason. But, every single lab member should be happy (and proud) of where their projects are today. Many of which would not have progressed to the current level without the help of the undergraduate students in our laboratory: Caroline, Jordan and Echo. Whether being involved with cleaning dishes, pouring plates, PCRs, or assessing the impact of probiotic bacteria on x, y and z, your efforts have greatly contributed to our progress and success.

If we simplify the term ‘success’ to funding, data, and publications, 2016 has led to exciting findings which were the basis for several lines of funding earlier this year. Out of the 10 grant applications we applied for in 2016, 7 have undergone peer review at the time of writing this blog. Out of these 7 applications, 4 have been selected for funding. Needless to say, we are looking forward to hearing the comments (and hopefully positive funding decisions) from the grants that are pending review in 2017! But, funding and data needs to translate in publications! We expect to complete multiple manuscript submissions in 2017. Some highlights can be mentioned in the areas of GENETIC TOOLS and BIOTHERAPEUTICS. For example, Vivian and Jee-Hwan have developed a novel genetic tool that is widely applicable in lactobacilli. Vivian is in the process to wrap up the last replicates after which she will be drafting her manuscript early 2017. Very exciting! This genetic tool was crucial for the development of our BIOTHERAPEUTIC platform, which was developed by Jee-Hwan. He engineered a probiotic strain that now can much better withstand the harsh in-vivo conditions compared to the original strain. Our modified probiotic with enhanced in-vivo survival, combined with our newly developed inducible lysis system, places Laura  in the position to determine whether our tailored probiotic is superior to deliver eukaryotic proteins in the gastrointestinal tract compared to the original strain. In the area of PROBIOTIC research, Mustafa has identified a gene cluster in a probiotic bacterium that is responsible for activation of the host’s immune-system. Mustafa is currently applying genetic approaches to better understand the role of the different proteins coded from this gene cluster.

The Van Pijkeren Laboratory is looking forward to informing you soon on more progress! We thank all our collaborators and funding agencies for their support in 2016! In the meantime, we wish you all Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2017!