Sabine Langie studied respiratory allergies in children as a post-doctoral researcher at VITO and at Hasselt University. She has been presented with various awards in recent years, including two Young Scientist Awards.

How did you end up at VITO?

I graduated from Maastricht University and was a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University. At meetings and congresses, I regularly encountered Gudrun Koppen, a researcher at VITO. Because we are working on similar techniques, we submitted a project application together to the AXA Research Fund. So I started at VITO in November 2012. Thanks to the Cefic-LRI Innovative Science Award that I won in 2013, I was able to extend my contract for a year. I’ve been working as a FWO-VITO post-doctoral researcher since October 2015.

Have you conducted similar research in all of these institutions?

My research in Maastricht was on DNA damage and repair. When I arrived in England, I wanted to learn new techniques. Since then I have been specialising in epigenetics, the discipline that studies changes in the genome that are not associated with changes in the DNA sequence. They take place through interaction with the environment and can lead to illnesses later in life. Which is why it is a popular research theme today. The focus of my research is on respiratory allergies in children. Specifically, I look for epigenetic markers for the purpose of diagnostics. But it would be ideal if we could predict the disease in the future and thus also be able to prevent it. We look for these epigenetic markers in the saliva of children: a very innovative, non-invasive method. We have also shown that the markers in the saliva can be reliably studied. And of course it is easier to collect saliva from young children than blood.

What does the future hold for you at VITO?

My contract runs until September 2019. That’s still some time away, but I’m already looking at the different possibilities. There are many innovations in the pipeline at VITO Health. It would be interesting to work on these. But it’s not yet clear what specific role I could play. So for the time being I’m keeping all options open.