Applied Genomic Microbiology Research Group – A collaboration between BaseClear and Hoogeschool Leiden

BaseClear and Leiden Centre for Applied Bioscience (LCAB) of Hoogeschool Leiden are working together on a new Applied Genomic Microbiology Research Group to enhance our mutual expertise in the field of microbial genomics. Dr. Astrid Heikema has been appointed as joint lecturer. Working together with students, academic institutes and companies in the region, she will conduct practice-oriented research on the role of micro-organisms in different ecosystems in humans, animals and the environment. By deepening her knowledge in microbiology, she strives to develop new innovative applications that contribute to sustainable and environment-friendly solutions and to a strengthen innovative power of companies at the Leiden BioSciencePark.

Heikema’s research group Applied Genomic Microbiology translates knowledge about the genetic properties of microorganisms into relevant applications. Traditional microbiology, modern sequencing technology and bioinformatics are used to obtain this knowledge. The acquired knowledge is applicable to a broad range of fields from safeguarding secure food supply to human, animal and plant health.

BaseClear and Leiden Centre for Applied Bioscience contribute equally to the lectorate. In recent years LCAB has built up a solid partnership with our company. BaseClear’s strong expertise and experience in microbial genomics including metagenomics, microbiome analysis, microbial strain characterization and culturomics will contribute to Heikema’s research and further advance the quest for finding sustainable alternatives for industrial production processes. Derek Butler, CEO of BaseClear, emphasized the advantages of working together with academia to accelerate BaseClear’s knowledge and expertise in applied microbiology.  “The combination of LCAB and BaseClear’s expertise, together with our state of the art facilities, provide a great platform for this lectorate. We strongly believe that it will result in significant advances in applied microbiology, particularly in the context of human health and microbe driven industrial processes.”

Dr. Astrid Heikema has over twenty years of experience in the field of molecular microbiology. Until recently, she was assistant professor and program director of a research master at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. She has a PhD in molecular microbiology with a focus on host-pathogen interactions. She studied bacterial virulence factors and how these factors are recognized by the human innate immune system. Further in her scientific career, she used next generation sequencing for bacterial genome, antimicrobial resistance and microbiota studies, and developed bioinformatic data analysis pipelines. In her new position as lector applied genomic microbiology, she will collaborate with BaseClear and translate research questions from the company and customers to innovative projects and products. Heikema is looking forward to being active in her new role in a broadly oriented microbiological field, establishing contacts with the business community, strengthening networks and developing ideas for innovative applied research together with companies and students.

Bas Reichert, chairman of the Leiden BioScience Park entrepreneurs’ association and founder of BaseClear, says he is pleased with this new collaboration between Hogeschool Leiden and BaseClear. “This type of interaction between public and private institutions will lead to education that is better geared towards the needs of the companies at the Leiden BioSciencePark and contribute to the innovative strength of the business community. In addition, it gives young people the opportunity to get acquainted with the many career opportunities at the park.”


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