Interview – Maarten Leerkes – Genome Analysis Specialist at the (NIAID) Office of Cyber Infrastructure and Computational Biology (OCICB)

Maarten Leerkes speaks to Izzy Scott Moncrieff in the run up to the  upcoming RNA-Seq 2013 Summit, 18th–20th June 2013, Boston, MA

Maarten Leerkes provides bioinformatics support for various projects at NIAID as an employee of Medical Science and Computing, Inc. His areas of research include the use of bioinformatics to interpret sequencing data and to find patterns that can be extrapolated into diagnostic tools for improving treatment options for patients.

What initially attracted you to RNA-Seq?

During my doctoral training, I worked with open reading frame ESTs and SAGE platforms that aimed towards similar end products as RNA-Seq. The difference being that RNA-Seq has more sequencing depth and its information content is much higher.

A prevailing theme during my Ph.D. was a need for innovative technologies to process extra volumes of data and to answer certain types of research questions that were limited with existing technologies. With the development of RNA-Seq, many challenges to answering some of those questions were overcome. My interest, for example, was to answer questions related to alternative splicing and translocations that lead to fusions between gene products. The increased resolution of RNA Seq really opened up possibilities for me as I pursued my research.

Download a PDF of the entire interview at –