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Molecular Systems Physiology Group

The Molecular Systems Physiology group, headed by Dr. Ines Thiele, aims to improve our understanding on how diet influences human health.

We use a computational modeling approach, termed constraint-based modeling, which has gained increasing importance in systems biology. In this approach, comprehensive computational models are assembled in a bottom-up manner from literature and genomic information. These models describe in a stoichiometric accurate format biochemical transformations occurring in a target organism. Once assembled, various omics data sets can be integrated and analyzed with these models, expanding currently available analysis tools and thus providing mechanistically based insight into complex multi-dimensional data sets. Moreover, these models can be used to predict the impact of genetic alterations (e.g., enzyme deficiencies) and of changed environment conditions (e.g., changes in diet composition) on the metabolic state of the target organism.

The molecular systems physiology group builds comprehensive models of human cells and human-associated microbes. We then employ these models together with experimental data to investigate how nutrition and genetic predisposition can affect one’s health. In particular, we are interested in applying our computational modeling approach for better understanding inherited and neurodegenerative diseases.

The Molecular Systems Physiology Group was established under the auspices of the Luxembourg National Research Fund's ATTRACT Programme.







Prediction of intracellular metabolic states from extracellular metabolomic data

Maike AURICH, research associate in the Molecular Systems Physiology group, has developed an integrated workflow that allows to predict the intracellular metabolic state of a cell based on extracellular metabolomic data. The model has been validated experimentally by their collaborators from the University of Iceland and has been published in Metabolomics. 

A functional map of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is a beneficial gut microbe, that has so far been poorly characterised. Based on automated draft reconstruction, Almut HEINKEN, research associate in the Molecular Systems Physiology group, and her collaborators from the University Medical Centre Groningen, The Netherlands, were now able define a chemically defined growth medium which allowed them to perform further metabolomic analyses. Their work resulted in a metabolic map of the bacterium which has been published in the Journal of Bacteriology.