Bas Dutilh finds human microbiome virus in one-third of all countries

In 2014, Bas Dutilh discovered crAssphage, a new virus that infects bacteria associated to the human intestine, just by analysing “big data”. Although the virus had never been seen before, crAssphage was present in well over 50% of almost one thousand datasets from human faecal samples. As a follow-up of that article, he has now convinced more than 100 scientists worldwide to look for crAssphage in sewage and human faecal samples from their country. Bas is senior author of the resulting publication in Nature Microbiology that describes how they found the virus in one-third of the countries of the world. This new research also suggests why crAssphage is so widespread: the team showed that crAssphage has been with us since the dawn of humankind and has spread with us as we colonised the globe. CrAssphage seems to have no effect on human health or disease, so without impeding our fitness the virus could survive in the human lineage without being selected out. [The image is an electron microscopy photograph taken by Colin Hill, whose team was the first to isolate a crAssphage-like virus from Irish fecal samples in 2018.]

Catarina Dutilh Novaes appointed Professorial Fellow at St Andrews

Together with four other philosophers, Catarina Dutilh Novaes has been appointed in June 2019 as Professorial Fellow at St Andrews (UK). Fellows are in residence for six weeks per year, contributing to the research projects at the Centres and contributing to the postgraduate experience.  Initial appointments are for five years. In 2018 Catarina has been contributing to a Conceptual Engineering Seminar at Arché, a philosophical research centre at the University of St Andrews, with a talk “Carnapian Explications

Bas Dutilh amongst most frequently cited scientists

Bas Dutilh is mentioned on a list, published on November 27 2018 by Clarivate Analytics, an American company that offers services (such as Web of Science) for scientific research. The list presents the 1 percent most frequently cited scientists of the past ten years by discipline. Bas is working at the Utrecht University as well as the Radboud University in Nijmegen. More information

Catarina Dutilh Novaes appointed as URC professor

The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) will appoint Catarina Dutilh Novaes as Professor of Reasoning and Argumentation, and their History at the University Research Chair on 1 January 2019. With this program, the VU recognizes excellent scientists as future leaders in their field. They are selected because of their excellence and potential for the future. Catarina Dutilh Novaes amply meets the standard quality requirements for professors, transcends her colleagues in the same position and has the most potential for rapid development. Find out more.

Bas Dutilh supervises iGEM team

In October every year, 6,000 of the world’s brightest students gather at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, USA, to compete in the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. This five-day event is the grand-finale of nearly a year’s hard work, and teams will showcase their innovative projects on stage, under the hot lights in front of their peers and the public.

iGEM is a student competition in synthetic biology, where students compete to build a synthetic biological system that can serve humanity in a useful way. By participating in the iGEM competition, students experience all aspects of science. Not only do they conceive and execute a novel scientific project, they also actively implement non-scientific skills such as leadership, fundraising, management, public outreach and communication.

“The iGEM experience is a unique way to contribute to fostering talent,” describes Bas Dutilh, one of Utrecht’s five supervisors, “These are the very best and brightest students of our university and as supervisors, it’s a real privilege to mentor this enthusiastic team.” The team has become very close; they’ve spent a lot of time together, both directly on the project and during team building activities, and really enjoy each other’s company. “It’s inspiring to watch them grow an idea and drive it forward,” says Bas, “And, it’s just good fun.” Read more.

Study by Bas Dutilh models relationship between metabolites and bacterial genes

Article in Nature Microbiology of 12 March 2018 describes:

The human body is increasingly seen as a complex ecosystem, home to thousands of microorganisms and their metabolites. The health of this ecosystem hinges on the relationship between the microbes and human cells and tissues, and metabolites are often the key to this relationship.

“Metabolites are vital, but it is often difficult to find out which ones are present at a specific site in the body. There are many different metabolites, and their concentrations can vary widely,” explains research leader Dr. Bas Dutilh from Utrecht University. “Since metabolites are so closely linked to the growth of bacteria, we thought that it might be possible to predict their composition based on the types of bacteria present. The only input we need for that is the abundances of the bacteria and their genes, and progress in the field of metagenomics has made it relatively easy to get those.”

Bas Dutilh appointed Associate Editor of Virology Journal

Bas Dutilh, assistant professor Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences at the Utrecht University, has been appointed Associate Editor of the Virology JournalVirology Journal is an open access, peer reviewed journal that considers articles on all aspects of virology, including research on the viruses of animals, plants and microbes. The journal welcomes basic research as well as pre-clinical and clinical studies of novel diagnostic tools, vaccines and anti-viral therapies.

Bas Dutilh wins NWO Vidi grant

Bas E. Dutilh has received one of this year’s prestigious Vidi grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for his research. The grant consist of 800,000 euros which can be spent to do 5 years of independent research. He will use the money to discover new human gut-associated bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) and investigate their role in structuring the human intestinal flora (also known as the human gut microbiome). The main part of the work will be performed at Utrecht University and Wageningen University, but international scientists on six continents will collaborate in the project. The grant was awarded by the Earth and Life Sciences (ALW) division of NWO after a heavy selection that included a review by anonymous international referees, a rebuttal, and a live interview by a panel of 16 professors from the earth and life sciences. A total of 87 Vidi grants were awarded in 2015, 11 of which within the ALW division. More information.

An article on the application process for ten applicants, including Bas Dutilh, has been published in De Volkskrant of Saturday May 23rd.