Dr Gabriele Schweikert is a joint appointment between the Division of Computational Biology in the School and Cyber Valley in Tuebingen. Gabriele uses Machine Learning Tools to better understand important molecular processes in living cells, with a particular interest in epigenetic mechanisms.

“All cells in our body share the same genetic code, the DNA. But what makes a liver cell a liver cell, what makes neurons communicate with other neurons, while white blood cells defend our body against germs and pathogens? Epigenetic mechanisms may provide the living cell with a system to efficiently use the specific information required for each cells’ specific needs,” Gabriele explained. “Currently, we have only limited understanding of its architecture and working, however, with modern high-throughput technologies we can register epigenomic snapshots of current states of cells. The data is very complex, high-dimensional, redundant and dynamic. A truly interdisciplinary approach is required that combines expert knowledge of epigenomic mechanisms with machine learning technologies. The impact of understanding these epigenetic processes holds immense promise for medical applications. For instance, malfunctioning of the epigenetic machinery are increasingly recognised as important contributors to tumourigenesis (e.g. in leukaemia).”