Joep de Ligt

Dr. Joep de Ligt is the Senior Science Lead of Bioinformatics & Genomics at ESR, and the team he works with does research spanning from human to infectious disease genomics. Joep earned his MSc in Bioinformatics and PhD in Medical Life Sciences from Radboud University.



  • Research

    Joep's team he works with does research spanning from human to infectious disease genomics. The team uses genome sequencing, which is becoming an increasingly important tool in understanding and improving health and can be used to diagnose childhood disorders or monitoring incursions of a pathogen onto a hospital ward. It is also used to investigate foodborne outbreaks and helps understand and combat the rise of drug resistant bacteria. 

    The research done within the genomics team ranges from fundamental questions, like understanding virulence of certain species to applied research geared at delivering on the health impact potential of genome sequencing technologies. The human genomics team researches diseases like diabetes and is supporting local hospitals and health providers to offer comprehensive genetic testing as well as supporting them in their computational needs. The pathogen genomics team researches the virulence and spread of pathogens while also supporting communities and Ministries in the surveillance of notifiable diseases. The wider genomics group was able to respond quickly to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and demonstrated the capability and value of rapid whole genome sequencing in New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. 

    Joep spends most of his time helping to support and guide the work and research done within the genomics team. Genomics sits at the interface of many different disciplines, laboratory, clinical, epidemiological, data science and one health. This means a lot of time and effort go into ensuring we are asking the right questions of the right data at the right time. 

    Before joining ESR, Joep worked in The Netherlands on different genetics questions ranging from stem cell development, to inborn disorders and cancer. He has been at ESR for three and half years, the highlight for him is how the whole ESR team got behind the COVID-19 response and we were able to provide real intelligence to support and enable the eradication strategy that New Zealand used. Outside of work, Joep enjoys diving in the ocean.

  • Publications