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University Medical Center Groningen

Vinod Kumar Magadi Gopalaiah, PhD

Assistant Professor working on functional genomics approaches to infectious diseases
Dr. Vinod Kumar
Dr. Vinod Kumar

PhD thesis, 2007. European CF Twin and Sibling Study; Genetic Susceptibility to Infectious Diseases. Hannover University, Germany

Email, Full list of papers in Google Scholar


  • 2018: Appointed Assistant Professor and Hypatia Fellow, Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen
  • 2018: Awarded a Hypatia Fellowship (€1 million). Radbound UMC, Nijmegen. "Systems Genetics Approach to Infectious Diseases"
  • 2015: Appointed Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics, University Medical Center Groningen


Vinod Kumar leads the immune-genetics and infectious disease research group in identifying the human genes and molecular mechanisms that regulate appropriate immune response to infections, and which may contribute to susceptibility to sepsis and other infectious diseases.

Infections have an enormous impact on human health. My team is interested in deciphering the genetic and molecular mechanisms in disease, particularly infectious diseases. By taking advantage of state-of-the-art technologies and simultaneously assessing genetics and multi-omics in the context of host-pathogen interaction (, we are discovering druggable pathways to treat infectious diseases and developing genetic and genomic biomarkers for precision medicine.

Sepsis, a heterogeneous disorder caused by infections

Sepsis is a major global health problem primarily caused by bacterial and fungal infections. It is a life-threatening disorder characterized by a dysregulated immune response and multi-organ dysfunction. Current strategies using a “one-size-fits-all” treatment approach for sepsis have failed because of the extreme heterogeneity in disease outcome. Factors such as host genetics, pathogens and environmental factors, as well as the unique interaction between these factors in every individual, may contribute to heterogeneity in sepsis. Understanding the impact of these complex interactions on the function of the relevant cell types is therefore crucial to delineating the molecular basis of heterogeneity in outcome.

To do this, we are currently performing systems genetic studies using both patient and population-based cohorts. In particular, we are investigating how genetically determined inter-individual differences in molecular responses to infections contribute to the heterogeneity of fungal and bacterial sepsis outcome. Dissecting the genetic basis of sepsis heterogeneity to infections is a major step towards novel patient-specific therapeutic strategies, which depend on a deep understanding of the molecular interactions between host and pathogens.

Research group members


  • Vasiliki Matzaraki, PhD student: Genetic susceptibility to candidemia
  • Kieu Le, PhD student: Functional genomics approach to sepsis
  • Isis Ricaño-Ponce, PhD student: Genetics and genomics of celiac disease associated variants


  • Rodrigo Almeida, PhD 2014, "Beyond genome wide association studies in celiac disease by exploring the non-coding genome"
  • Barbara Hrdlickova, PhD 2014, "Finding the missing 'LiNCs' in celiac disease"
  • Yang Li, Postdoc 2014-2016, now Assistant Professor Dept. Genetics, UMCG
  • Luz Maria Medrano de Dios, Postdoc 2013-2015, now at University of Valenica, Spain

Selected publications

See full list of papers in Google Scholar, *equal contribution

Research achievements

During my MSc work (Bangalore, India), I was the first person to isolate and characterize a bacteriophage which is currently being used as an effective therapeutic tool to control Vibrio harveyi infection in shrimp (Aquaculture, 2006). During my PhD I showed that polymorphisms within innate immunity genes significantly modulate disease severity by influencing Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection among cystic fibrosis patients (Human Genetics, 2006; Genes and Immunity, 2008; Am J Med Gen, 2011), which could be potential biomarkers to identify cystic fibrosis patients with greater risk.

In my first postdoctoral project (2008-2011), I identified genetic susceptibility variants for hepatitis C virus induced hepatocellular carcinoma (Nature Genetics, 2011), hepatitis B virus infection (Human Molecular Genetics, 2011) by GWAS. I also showed that the results of genetic association studies can be translated into clinical application by demonstrating that soluble MICA quantification has a potential as a biomarker for HBV-induced liver cancer patients survival (Plos One 2012).

Academic background

I obtained a University Merit Scholarship for my Master’s course and was therefore able to specialize in microbiology (2001–2003) at GKVK University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India. I was later awarded a German Research Council (DFG) PhD fellowship (2003–2007) to participate in an international research programme at the University of Hannover.

After completing my PhD in infection genetics, I obtained a 3-year postdoctoral position (2008–2011) at the University of Tokyo, one of the top 10 universities in the world. In 2011, I moved to UMCG, Groningen, the Netherlands to take up a postdoc position with Prof. Cisca Wijmenga and was appointed assistant professor in 2016.

Laatst gewijzigd:27 maart 2018 10:57