van Vuuren Lab

Fundamental research in the van Vuuren laboratory focuses on the metabolic adaptation of wine yeast to stresses during wine fermentation. A systems biology approach (transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics) is used to study how yeast cells adapt to nutrient depletion, increasing ethanol concentration and fermentation stress in general. The function of a number of orphan genes expressed only during the late stages of alcoholic fermentation in S. cerevisiae, is being elucidated.

Laboratory Members


Dr. Zongli Luo (Research Associate)

Dr. Luo received his Ph.D. in Genetics from the Institute of Microbiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Dieter Gallwitz at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen, Germany. Dr. Luo is a yeast molecular biologist and was recruited to the WRC as a Research Associate in 2003.


Dr. Maria Diaz Chavez (Research Associate)

Dr. Diaz Chavez completed her Ph.D. in the group of Dr. Toni Kutchan at the Institute of Plant Biochemistry in Halle, Germany. She worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Joerg Bohlmann at UBC to carry out research on functional genomics of terpene pathways. Since 2014, Dr. Diaz Chavez has been part of Dr. van Vuuren group at the Wine Research Centre as a Research Associate.


Dr. Steven Wong (Research Associate)

Dr. Wong completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at UBC in Dr. Grant Mauk's group. He then worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Bacterial Pathogenesis group of Dr. Andréa Dessen at the Institut de Biologie Structurale in Grenoble, France. Dr. Wong joined the van Vuuren laboratory at the Wine Research Centre as a Research Associate in 2014.


Lina Madilao (Researcher)

Lufiani Lina Madilao has been the analytical laboratory facility manager in the UBC Wine Research Centre since 2003. She obtained her B.Sc. in chemistry at UBC . Prior to joining the WRC, she worked for 13 years as a mass spectrometrist at the BC Regional Mass Spectrometry Centre in the UBC Dept. of Chemistry.


Mayumi Iwashita (Master's Student)

Mayumi completed her B.Sc. in Biochemistry at UBC and has been involved in yeast ethanol fermentation research at Mark Anthony Group. She joined Dr. van Vuuren’s lab at the Wine Research Centre in 2013 as a Master’s student to study genetics of wine yeast strains. She first gained her experience working with Saccharomyces cerevisiae in Dr. Thibault Mayor’s lab as an undergraduate student, where S.cerevisiae is used as a model organism to study the ubiquitin proteasome system.

Graduates of the van Vuuren Lab

Doctoral Students

John Husnik Dr. John Husnik, UBC (2007)
Dr. Husnik obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in the van Vuuren laboratory. He has constructed the ML01 and urea-degrading wine yeasts which have been patented. He is currently employed as a senior research scientist at Phyterra Yeast in Napa, California.
danie-erasmus Dr. Danie Erasmus, UBC (2005) 
Dr. Erasmus obtained his Ph.D. in the WRC and is currently a senior laboratory instructor in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program at the University of Northern British Columbia.
van-der-Merwe Dr. George van der Merwe, U of Stellenbosch (2002)
Dr. van der Merwe completed his Ph.D. in the WRC. He is now an Associate Pprofessor in the Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
Dr. Joana Coulon, University of Bordeaux (2001)

Master's Students

Sara Saberi, UBC (2012)
Emily Terrell, UBC (2010)

Matthew Dahabieh, UBC (2008)
Susanne Kanel, ETH Switzerland (2003)
Martin Schanz, ETH Switzerland (2003)
M. Albert, Brock University (2002)
Brad Greatrix, UBC (2002)
Cherie Spriggs, UBC (2002)

Visiting Scientists

Dr. Lucilla Iacumin, Visiting Professor, Univ of Udine, Italy
Jakob Lollike, M.Sc. student, Denmark
Juan Rico Molins, M.Sc. student, IATA, Spain
Amelie Boury, M.Sc. student, SupBiotech, France
Dr. Charlie Boone, Visiting Professor, Univ of Toronto
Joana Coulon, Ph.D. student, University of Bordeaux
Susanne Kanel, M.Sc. student, ETH Switzerland
Martin Schanz , M.Sc. student, ETH Switzerland
Giacomo Zara, Ph.D. student, Univ of Sassari, Italy
Dr. Young-Tae Hahm, Visiting Professor, Chung-Ang University, South Korea


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