The public private partnership BIOMAP involves 34 partner institutions from twelve European countries including clinical sites with recognised excellence in clinical care and research as well as industry partners. The BIOMAP consortium brings together partners with strong complementary backgrounds spanning from system biology, molecular disease mapping and single cell analysis to data management and advanced bioinformatics, and with experience in leading international research projects on inflammatory skin diseases.
Within its patient-centric and impact-oriented approach, BIOMAP brings together key stakeholders groups from multidisciplinary research areas and pharma industry. External Advisory Groups will complement the expertise of the BIOMAP consortium and provide independent advice and recommendations: the Patient Board and the (scientific) Advisory Board. They will provide guidance to obtain a clearer picture on disease subtypes in Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis aiming at better drug development which will ultimately lead to improved treatment opportunities.
The BIOMAP consortium is delighted to have its expertise complemented by the BIOMAP Advisory Board. Members of the Advisory Board comprise renowned scientists in the fields of atopic dermatitis (AD) and Psoriasis (Pso). They will advise the BIOMAP consortium on scientific as well as ethical issues to facilitate strategic decisions and give targeted feedback on the scientific progress of the project and therefore maximize benefits of the project.
International Psoriasis Council Francesca Capon, PhD
Harmonising Outcome Measures for Eczema (HOME) Joanne Chalmers, PhD
International Eczema Council Dirk Jan Hijnen, PhD
Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute Prof. Cecilia M. Sjöberg
The Patient Board has been consulted from the beginning of BIOMAP. The representatives of the Patient Board will give voice to the desires and needs of people with atopic dermatitis (AD) and Psoriasis (Pso) patients. This board consisting of 6 AD and Pso focused patient organisations and will be working within and across Work Packages serving as an advisory resource to BIOMAP.
The Patient Board will
ensure that BIOMAP operates with a patient-centric approach and delivers specific outcomes with the potential to improve the lives of people with AD and Pso;
support the communication of BIOMAP results to the wider public;
provide advice to the BIOMAP consortium to ensure that the patient perspective is included in the work conducted in BIOMAP
provide advice on the design of clinical research activities in BIOMAP.
Eczema Outreach Support (EOS) Suzi Holland
Dutch Association for People with Atopic Dermatitis (VMCE) Bernd Arents
Psoriasis Association Helen McAteer
National Eczema Society Andrew Proctor
Irish Skin Foundation David McMahon and Michelle Greenwood
European Psoriasis Association (EUROPSO) Lars F. Werner
Meet the Partners
Christian Albrechts University of Kiel
meet Robert Häsler ...
Institution Christian Albrechts University of Kiel Position Professor of Systems Medicine in Dermatology Field of Research Functional genomics of chronic inflammation
What are your major research activities/interests? Functional genomics and molecular pathogenesis of complex diseases have been my major subjects for the last 20 years. The interplay between disease susceptibility, manifestation and progression in chronic inflammatory diseases is of particular interest to me, and my current research focuses on epigenetic mechanisms and host-microbiome interactions contributing to disease mechanisms. My latest projects aim at generating direct benefits for patients suffering from chronic inflammation by employing translational research concepts.
Why do you find this such an interesting field of research? The complex interaction between all elements contributing to susceptibility, manifestation and progression in chronic inflammions is challenging but makes it at the same time very interesting. At the same time, inflammatory disorders are clinically highly relevant - and many diseases have an inflammatory component, like asthma, diabetes or cancer.
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of BIOMAP? The goals of BIOMAP are quite ambitious: To explain why patients differ from each other in disease manifestation and progression - and then utilize those differences to tailor the treatment of for an individual patient. Nobody can reach these goals alone, but in BIOMAP experts from different fields are joining forces: Clinicians, biologists, bioinformaticians, statisticians, management & communication experts, technicians and many more. As a scientist, it is exciting to be part of such a promising team, as we actually have the power to achieve these goals and to improve the patient’s well-being.
How do you see the future of personalised medicine/individualised patient care in the field of dermatology unfolding/evolving? One of the major challenges is to translate findings from projects like in BIOMAP into a clinical routine. We expect that this will result in fewer side-effects for the patient, better patient outcome, shorter hospitalization time and reduced healthcare costs. In the future, it will be impossible to ignore such improvements, finally leading to the broad integration of more personalized patient care in clinical routines.
"One thing I cannot live without is: Chopin’s music"
Christian Albrechts University of Kiel
meet Elke Rodríguez ...
Institution Christian Albrechts University of Kiel Position PhD, deputy group leader Field of Research Molecular pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis
What are your major research activities/interests? Having started with single candidate gene association studies 15 years ago the scope of my research meanwhile includes additional molecular approaches -like RNA and protein expression, epigenetic mechanisms and the skin microbiome- that might help to gain a deeper understanding of the complex pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis and hopefully serve as a potential starting point for novel patient oriented approaches.
Why do you find this such an interesting field of research? The global burden of skin disease is still underestimated and skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis have a strong impact on patient’s quality of life. Actually, it is very satisfying to know that your research provides the basis for the development of novel therapeutic, preventive or prognostic strategies that will ease patients’ daily life in the future.
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of BIOMAP? BIOMAP is by far the largest consortium I have ever participated in and it concentrates the expertise of physicians, patients, biologists, jurists, bioinformaticians, statisticians, and many others from all over Europe into a very impressive ‘pool of knowledge’. Moreover, the close interaction between the different fields within the consortium often encourages to start thinking outside the box.
How do you see the future of personalised medicine/individualised patient care in the field of dermatology unfolding/ evolving? Due to a vast progress in sequencing technologies and since the decoding of the human genome patient-specific therapies have already been successfully introduced for certain cancer types based on the individual patient's genetic makeup and genetic tumor profiling. The recent technological and computational advances in molecular biology make the pledge to also change the life of patients with atopic dermatitis and psoriasis in a foreseeable time frame. However, in order to fully exploit relevant multi-level patient data sets, carefully designed molecular and clinical data collections as well as sophisticated wet-lab and IT technologies will have to be implemented and constantly refined.
"One thing I cannot live without is: my mother’s homemade Bavarian sweet dishes"
Nora B. Hangel
Technical University Munich
meet Nora B. Hangel ...
Nora B. Hangel
Institution Technical University Munich Position postdoctoral researcher Field of Research trained philosopher with a phD in Ethics; as a postdoc I specialized in philosophy of science (empirical social epistemology), science studies, research methodology (qualitative methods in philosophy)
And of course, I am involved in BIOMAP, where I am working in the Work Package 8 (“Ethics”) for Prof. Dr. Alena Buyx (who is also chair of German Ethics Council) and is co-leading this work package together with Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Forgó from the University of Vienna. Our team was joined by the lovely Marie-Christine Fritzsche last year, who studied Medicine and Philosophy, and who has taken the lead in writing the systematic review of reason and helped me conducting the expert interviews for BIOMAP.
Why do you find this such an interesting field of research? As we know, data-rich research is aiming at novel illness taxonomies, predictive patient stratification and biomarker-based targeted therapies. We are interested in ethical, legal and social challenges that come with this research.
At the moment, we are in the process of coding and analysing the interviews but apart from the topics of data security and anonymity many other topics were discussed: patient involvement, translational aspects and communication of findings, how to integrate more qualitative data like socio-cultural, environmental, or even epigenetic factors with what we know from analysing genetic markers. Different biases were mentioned and different aspects concerning the complexity of this research in relation to stratifying into subgroups and arriving at stratified treatment options. To name a few. I really find the interdisciplinary approach within BIOMAP very interesting and rewarding.
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of BIOMAP? Participating in BIOMAP as a philosopher (with qualitative and conceptual methods) puts me in the privileged position to gain insights from within science, scientific procedures, reflections of scientists, and deliberations about the intersection between science and society, in short, questions and problems other philosophers do not have access to.
How do you see the future of personalised medicine/individualised patient care in the field of dermatology unfolding/ evolving? Well, since I am no medical expert, I will take the side of those who are on the receiving end of this development. Although I personally am not affected with any inflammatory disease, personalized approaches will become more important in many other parts of medicine, but also other parts in ever-day life. I believe personalized approaches are relational: on the one side we have those who actively accumulate information to knowledge in order to help for example doctors (sort of the “the well-informed patient”) on the other end we have institutions who collect information for different benefits (personalized treatment options, effectiveness, costs…). So it seems to be a two-way sword. On the sharing side we need more awareness and responsibility of what to share, how and to whom and under what conditions. On the receiving side we need secure pathways that information is collated for the benefit of humans, as an end in themselves and not only along efficiency algorithms merely as a means for market interests.
"I would love to have lunch with Catherine Smith because she is very engaging and thinks ahead, anticipating future topics."
Christian Albrechts University of Kiel
meet Matthias Hübenthal ...
Institution Christian Albrechts University of Kiel Position Postdoctoral researcher, Bioinformatician, Statistician Field of Research Individualized strategies for diagnostics and treatment of complex diseases
What are your major research activities/interests? Throughout the last years, my research interests comprised the development and application of methods for high-dimensional data analysis and predictive modelling. Having worked on a multitude of inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome during my doctoral studies, my current postdoctoral work focuses on inflammatory skin diseases, including atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Then, as now, my work aims at understanding molecular features of complex diseases by utilizing genetic, transcriptomic and proteomic profiling technologies to enable individualized strategies for diagnostics and treatment.
Why do you find this such an interesting field of research? Despite steady progress in understanding the pathophysiology of complex diseases, they are an ever-increasing burden on healthcare systems around the world. Projects such as BIOMAP aim at the development of clinical tools that improve the everyday lives of affected patients. Contributing to these developments is a challenging task. However, at the same time it is really encouraging.
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of BIOMAP? Being a bioinformatician by training, I am well aware of the importance of interdisciplinary work. Projects such as BIOMAP foster synergies between different disciplines from both academia and industry on an unprecedented scale.
How do you see the future of personalised medicine/individualised patient care in the field of dermatology unfolding/evolving? In order to be transferred into daily clinical practice, findings from basic research need to meet certain criteria, the most important being replicability and scalability. I expect the BIOMAP consortium to identify previously unknown disease subtypes that meet these criteria and hence enable subtype-oriented care and treatment of inflammatory skin diseases. This will improve the efficacy of healthcare systems but most importantly the patients‘ quality of life.
One thing I cannot live without is good food.
King’s College London
meet Inês Barbosa ...
Institution King’s College London Position Former BIOMAP WP1 Project Manager Field of Research Medical and Molecular Genetics
What are your major research activities/interests? After finishing my PhD in Cell Biology I have joined King’s College London as a bioinformatician to perform analysis of genetic data of patients with rare disorders. Since very early in my career I took special interest in the field of medical and molecular genetics and have always been keen on translational research projects.
I have been the BIOMAP project manager for two years and I am primarily responsible for WP1 management. During these last two years I have been guiding and assisting the team ensuring we meet the project deliverables.
Why do you find this such an interesting field of research? With the fast technological development we are more equipped to gather different layers of information (biological, genetic, environmental) that may help us understand better the emergency of complex human disorders. BIOMAP premise to create a harmonized platform for data and samples allows for the integration of said data to gain further insights on psoriasis and atopic dermatitis clinical phenotypes. This, along with gathering top experts from around the world gives us unimaginable advantage to successfully achieve the main project aims and positively impact patient-care.
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of BIOMAP? Definitely the opportunity to work alongside a great team of brilliant professionals with different backgrounds and fields of expertise. This has been an incredibly enriching opportunity both at a professional and personal level. I am learning something new every day!
How do you see the future of personalised medicine/individualised patient care in the field of dermatology unfolding/evolving? BIOMAP brings together the technical and intellectual potential needed to successfully contribute to the identification of subgroups of patients with distinct mechanisms of disease, and/ or particular responses to treatment and ultimately have more effective patient-directed care strategies. I hope the knowledge acquired under this project will contribute to an overall improvement of patient’s quality of life.
"If I could have any superpower, it would be teletransportation so I could attend Sunday lunch with the family every week"
University of Eastern Finland (UEF)
meet Vittorio Fortino ...
Institution University of Eastern Finland (UEF) Position Associate Professor Field of Research Health Bioinformatics
What are your major research activities/interests? Our research group (Biomedical informatics) makes use of large-scale biomedical data, such as genetics, genomics, transcriptomics and biological knowledge bases, as well as Artificial Intelligence-based algorithms to build applications for biomedical research. A particular interest of the group is to develop machine learning and network-based approaches for the discovery of disease subtypes/endotypes and biomarkers.
Why do you find this such an interesting field of research? We believe that AI-driven applications could deliver the next generation of clinical decision support systems enabling increased precision of diagnostics and personalised treatment decisions.
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of BIOMAP? The possibility to apply cutting edge AI-driven applications to large scale genomics and clinical data.
How do you see the future of personalised medicine/individualised patient care in the field of dermatology unfolding/evolving? The future of personalised medicine in the field of dermatology will highly depend on our ability to turn experimental AI-applications into software designed to treat, diagnose, cure, mitigate, or prevent skin diseases and related conditions.
meet Antonio Federico ...
Institution Tampere University Position Postdoc Field of Research Network pharmacology
What are your major research activities/interests? My research interest lies in the application of network science to evaluate the druggability in complex human diseases. In other words, my main activity consists of modelling and integrating large scale multi-omics data to find molecular patterns underlying a certain complex disease. I use this knowledge to facilitate both the repositioning of already approved drugs and the design of novel compounds for treatable and untreatable diseases.
Why do you find this such an interesting field of research? The ultimate aim of my research activity is to improve patients’ lives. It is really exciting to know that the results of my research could one day be employed in clinical applications.
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of BIOMAP? The huge amount of data collected in BIOMAP is an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to enable the discovery of molecular alterations underlying psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, identifying novel biomarkers, and possibly formulating improved and personalised therapies for patients. Another exciting aspect of BIOMAP is that it allows me to be immersed in a community of experts with whom to collaborate side-by-side to fulfil the aims of the project.
How do you see the future of personalised medicine/individualised patient care in the field of dermatology unfolding/evolving? Although many efforts are carried out by the research community to find tailored treatments for patients, their effects on patients’ health are very minor. The challenges that hamper a substantial improvement are multifold. For instance, the multidisciplinarity that is necessary to achieve clinically relevant solutions at a single patient level requires close communication among professionals working in different fields. Clinicians, chemists, molecular biologists, bioinformaticians and pharmacologists need to join forces and leverage new knowledge in the field of dermatology. I believe that BIOMAP is an excellent opportunity to gather all this expertise to improve the life of dermatological patients.
One of my favourite things to do when not doing research is immersing myself in the Finnish forest. Being an Italian based in Finland, I find the landscapes and scenarios that Finland can offer extremely exciting. The nature here is superb and I can feel deeply connected with it, far from the city and frenetic daily life. Sauna is the cherry on top!
King’s College London
meet Nick Dand ...
Institution King’s College London Position Research Fellow Field of Research Genetics
What are your major research activities/interests? My research mostly focuses on the genetic basis of common traits and diseases, with psoriasis having been a disease of interest for several years. Besides seeking direct insights into the underlying disease biology, I (and my colleagues at KCL) apply genome-wide association techniques to try to predict treatment response or other disease outcomes, assess causal relationships with risk factors, and unpick the molecular processes driving disease activity.
Why do you find this such an interesting field of research? As a data analyst, the recent explosion in biomedical data offers great opportunities to study all aspects of disease, and the move towards making this data more widely available to the scientific community is really democratising this research. This feels especially true in genetics. It is great to have found an area where quantitative skills can make a valuable contribution to health outcomes.
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of BIOMAP? First, I think one of the most important achievements of BIOMAP will be to have brought together and harmonised many complementary biological datasets relevant to psoriasis and AD. This aggregated data resource will be greater than the sum of its parts in terms of enabling the discovery of new associations with disease outcomes. Second, the consortium has such a breadth of expertise, both analytical and clinical. The former ensures our research is of the highest standard and the latter that all our work will ultimately benefit people living with psoriasis or AD.
How do you see the future of personalised medicine/individualised patient care in the field of dermatology unfolding/evolving? I think it will be challenging because there are currently few convincing biomarkers that would predict the best individualised treatment approach for psoriasis or AD with confidence. My guess is that the best results will in fact come from composite biomarkers that combine many molecular measures, each of which offers only a small predictive benefit individually. But this is why it is important that BIOMAP exists, to assemble the data and expertise needed to identify these complex biomarkers.
My perfect day would start with a coffee and end with an empty to-do list. Most days I manage one out of two!