Julio Saez-Rodriguez How Can the Toxic Effects of Chemical Compounds on Humans Be Predicted by Means of Crowdsourcing?

Julio Saez-Rodriguez is Visiting Group Leader at the European Bioinformatics Institute and Professor for Computational Biomedicine at RWTH Aachen, Germany. Previously, Saez-Rodriguez has been a Senior Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge University and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School and MIT, Boston (USA). Saez-Rodriguez’s research lies at the intersection of biomedicine and computational methods. He collaborates with various experimental groups, in order to seek out new therapies to treating diseases. In his most recent research project, Saez-Rodriguez uses crowdsourcing in order to advance the scientific knowledge on pharmaceuticals.

Area of Research

Computational Biomedicine

Camille D.A. Terfve, Edmund H. Wilkes, Pedro Casado, Pedro R. Cutillas and Julio Saez-Rodriguez. "Large-Scale Models of Signal Propagation in Human Cells Derived from Discovery Phosphoproteomic Data." Nature Communications 6 (2015): 8033.  
Steven M. Hill, Laura M. Heiser, Thomas Cokelaer, Michael Unger, Nicole K. Nesser, Daniel E. Carlin, Yang Zhang, Artem Sokolov, Evan O. Paull, Chris K. Wong, Kiley Graim, Adrian Bivol, Haizhou Wang et al. "Inferring Causal Molecular Networks: Empirical Assessment Through a Community-Based Effort." Nature Methods 13 (2016): 310-318.  
Julio Saez-Rodriguez, Leonidas G. Alexopoulos, MingSheng Zhang, Melody K. Morris, Douglas A. Lauffenburger and Peter K. Sorger. "Comparing Signaling Networks Between Normal and Transformed Hepatocytes Using Discrete Logical Models." Cancer Research 71 (2011): 5400-5411.  

since 2015

Professor for Computational Biomedicine

RWTH Aachen University (Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen) (more details)

Joint Research Center for Computational Biomedicine at the RWTH University Medical Hospital

since 2015

Visiting Group Leader

European Bioinformatics Institute


Group Leader

European Bioinformatics Institute


Postdoctoral Fellow

Harvard Medical School

and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Research Assistant

Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems


Research Assistant

University of Stuttgart (Universität Stuttgart)

and Insilico Biotechnology


PhD in Process Engineering

Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg (Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg)

And Max Planck Institute


Master in Chemical Engineering

University of Oviedo, Spain

PrECISE: Personalized Engine for Cancer Integrative Study and Evaluation (2016-2018)

SyMBioSys: Systematic Models for Biological Systems Engineering Training Network (2015-2018)

CombiMS: A Novel Drug Discovery Method Based on Systems Biology: Combination Therapy and Biomarkers for Multiple Sclerosis (2013-2014)

BioPreDyn: New Bioinformatics Methods and Tools for Data-Driven Predictive Dynamic Modelling in Biotechnological Applications (2012-2015)

Understanding Drug Mode of Action via Statistical Integration of Functional Genomic Studies and Literature-Derived Signalling Networks (2012-2014)

Novel Target Identification Through Genome-Scale CRISPR-Cas9 Knockout Screening in Human Cancer Cell Lines (2014-2016)

Target Identification and Validation Using Pathway Activities Derived from Functional Genomics Data (2014-2016)

© RWTH Aachen

RWTH Aachen University (Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen)

Aachen, Germany

"With its 260 institutes in nine faculties, RWTH Aachen is among the leading European scientific and research institutions."
"The Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments provided a huge boost to the further development of RWTH Aachen University. The institutional strategy on which the successful Excellence Initiative application was based has, in the meantime, been expanded to form a long-term strategy to strengthen all the areas of the University and enhance their profiles. In the process it has gained great momentum, which can be seen, among other things, in the extensive building activities. Visible evidence of this is the RWTH Aachen Campus that is being developed in close cooperation with industry and which is to form one of the largest research campuses in Europe. Students and employees of RWTH Aachen will benefit equally from these developments and are expressly invited to get involved in shaping the individual initiatives."

"RWTH Aachen has set for itself clearly defined goals. By the year 2020, it aims to be the best German University of technology and one of the top five in Europe as measured by academic output, by the quality of its graduates, and by external funding." (Source)


As humans react differently to chemical substances one of the challenges for public health is to establish which compounds are harmful for whom. The research project presented in this video uses crowdsourcing as part of the DREAM challenges as a method to improve research on this topic by involving the scientific community. Data on different reactions to chemical compounds were shared with scientists all over the world. They analyzed the data with different methods and every participating group described their methods and findings in detail. JULIO SAEZ-RODRIGUEZ explains how the outcomes show that the combination of all suggestions allowed for a better prediction of reactions to chemicals. In general the findings show that crowdsourcing has positive effects on science as it accelerates research, and that it is a powerful resource for computational biomedicine.

LT Video Publication DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10186

Prediction of Human Population Responses to Toxic Compounds by a Collaborative Competition

  • Federica Eduati, Lara M. Mangravite, Tao Wang, Hao Tang, J. Christopher Bare, Ruili Huang, Thea Norman, Mike Kellen, Michael P. Menden, Jichen Yang, Xiaowei Zhan, Rui Zhong, Guanghua Xiao et al
  • Nature Biotechnology
  • Published in 2015


Federica Eduati, Lara M. Mangravite, Tao Wang, Hao Tang, J. Christopher Bare, Ruili Huang, Thea Norman, Mike Kellen, Michael P. Menden, Jichen Yang, Xiaowei Zhan, Rui Zhong, Guanghua Xiao et al. "Prediction of Human Population Responses to Toxic Compounds by a Collaborative Competition." Nature Biotechnology 33 (2015): 933-940.