Natal van Riel appointed as part time professor Computational Modelling at AMC/UvA

Dr.ir. Natal van Riel is appointed as part time professor Computational Modelling at the Faculty of Medicine (AMC) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). His appointment is associated with the to be founded Diabetes research center of the AMC and VUmc. Starting November 1st, he works in Amsterdam for one day per week. The rest of the week, he will remain working at the TU/e in the research group Computational Biology of the department of Biomedical Engineering (BME).

Diabetes research center AMC

In the Diabetes research center, systems biology (and ‘systems medicine’) is an important part of the study on obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus. A better understanding of the disease will make it possible to develop and apply more ‘customized’ therapies (personalized medicine).

Natal will work in the research group Vascular Medicine; vascular diseases are an important complication and cause of death of metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus.

Collaboration TU/e & AMC

In the research on systems medicine of the metabolic syndrome and diabetes, there has been a collaboration between the TU/e and the AMC since a couple of years, e.g. in the large EU project RESOLVE that started in 2013. With this research chair, the current collaboration is intensified and anchored. Natal contributes from the TU/e with technological knowledge on the development and application of predictive computer models of human metabolism. Through the AMC and VUmc, he gets access to studies in which clinical and biological data are gathered, and the possibility to experimentally test new hypotheses on underlying mechanisms.

This collaboration enables students of the department of BME to do projects together with the AMC. Furthermore, he will incorporate the results of this collaboration in the education of the TU/e, for example in the course ‘Endocrinologie en Metabolisme’ and the OGO ‘Metabole Netwerken’.

Systems biology

In systems biology, biological systems are studied as a whole by creating computational and mathematical models of these complex biological systems. It involves, next to the generation of large quantities of data (DNA, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics), a lot of computational work. Bioinformatics and modelling are therefore essential. Systems biology and metabolic diseases are both research priority areas of the UvA.

Natal: “In this field we have gained a lot of valuable knowledge and expertise in the Computational Biology group. Especially regarding models of human metabolism, we have developed fairly unique methods. Using concepts from system identification theory, we are able to make models that can describe and analyze datasets very specifically. This can be data from a group of patients, or from one individual."

Dr.ir. Natal van Riel

Dr.ir. Natal van Riel received his Master’s degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in 1995. In 2000 he obtained a PhD degree in Molecular Cell Biology from Utrecht University for research on integrating computational modeling and experimental work to study complex biochemical networks. In 2003 he was appointed as assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at TU/e and initiated Systems Biology research in Eindhoven. This research was expanded when he joined the research group Computational Biology (Prof. Hilbers) to lead the Computational Systems Biology research program, investigating complex, multi-factorial human diseases. His research expertise includes mathematical modelling, identification (parameter estimation) and analysis (sensitivity analysis) of biological systems.