Prof. W.J. Stiekema (1950) has been named Professor of Bioinformatics in the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
Willem Stiekema's research centres on analysing hereditary characteristics in plants. Recent technological breakthroughs have introduced a relatively inexpensive means of mapping the DNA responsible for encoding hereditary characteristics in organisms. This advance has led to a revolution in biological research on micro-organisms, plants, animals and humans. Scientists have already mapped the DNA of a wide range of organisms, and more work is underway. One area of interest is the plants that play a vital role in agriculture, which often have as much or more DNA than humans. Stiekema's DNA analyses focus on potatoes and tomatoes in particular - two important crops in the Netherlands - and build on his previous research at Wageningen University and Research Centre.
Stiekema has also been appointed Founding Dean of the Amsterdam Graduate School of Science (AGSS), a new partnership being developed by the UvA and VU University Amsterdam. The AGSS will eventually accommodate all science Master's programmes offered by the two Amsterdam universities.
Stiekema spent 26 years working at Wageningen University and Research Centre, in the last seven years as Director of the Centre for BioSystems Genomics (CBSG). The CBSG is a public-private partnership that joins five universities, two research institutes and fifteen companies in exploring ways to enhance crops and work towards sustainable agriculture using genomics technologies. Since 1999 Stiekema also served as Professor by Special Appointment of Genome Informatics at Wageningen University. He is a member of the Health Council of the Netherlands and, until 2009, of its Committee on the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods, where he was involved in studying the safety of genetically modified plants.