Conversations with Lipid Leaders: Dr. Robert Ahrends

Posted on January 04, 2022

Robert Ahrends Ll For Website

Tell us a little bit about yourself (current role, background, family, etc.)

I am very happy that my team and me were selected for this honor 😉! We just moved from Germany to Vienna, Austria to freshly start here in Austria to shape a new kind of lipidomics research that involves a stronger intertwining with bioinformatics, other omics strategies and functional aspects of lipidomics research to understand lipids within complex systems.

Already early on through strolls through the countryside with my mother or grandfather I learned to understand and to see nature and life as whole and as very complex processes where each piece has one dedicated function in the system making it unique and important. Therefore, we at think the lipidome can only be understood in context with other omics and functional strategies.

What do you consider the largest breakthrough in lipid research in recent years?

The largest breakthrough definitely is the availability of standards and the beginning standardization of lipidomics workflows and data formats to open up lipidomics to a broader community. The foundation of the International Lipidomics Society was a big milestone for the community. I can just recommend to everybody who has interest in lipidomics research to engage: Lipidomics Society. In addition, the development and provision of bioinformatic toolsets such as LIFS is mandatory for a seamless development of lipidomics research.

Did you always envision yourself becoming a scientist? If not, what did you want to be when you grew up? Who influenced you to become a scientist?

Yes, this was always my dream to become a scientist! My grandfather and grandma Hans and Maria Glaser who were beekeepers, my mother as a biology teacher and my father as a machine builder were inspiring me most to choose a career between physics, chemistry and biology.

What caught your interest and motivated you to get involved in the study of lipid metabolism and the impact that it has in systems biology?

At the time we started, there were almost no quantitative studies available on organisms, cells or tissues especially in combination with other omics techniques were lacking, which is key for a wholistic understanding of the lipidome. So, we started to combine things with our first multiomics manuscript in 2016 by Coman et al.

How can lipidomic analysis spread light on the role of lipids in neurobiology, and what are some potential outcomes of this better understanding of synapse biology?

With the recently published Cell Reports paper ( ) our major aim was to showcase that testable hypothesis derived from the compartment-specific multiomics/lipidomics workflow can be generated and that with lipidomics we are having an additional tool to dissect the molecular landscape of synapses. With lipidomics the synaptic lipid metabolism, signaling and membrane properties can be studied and in combination with proteomics also their impact on neuronal plasticity.

What are your hobbies? What do you like to do outside of the lab?

Since I have two small kids there is not much spare time however I would love to go again tango dancing with my wife!

What was your favorite and least favorite course in school? What was the hardest course for you while you were in school?

I am not a good singer even loving music singing was giving me always a hard time! Latin was always challenging however I still enjoyed the history part within my lessons.

What Avanti product have you found most useful for your lipidomic analysis research?

We are loving all products out of the Splash and the CerMix family!

We would like to thank Dr. Robert Ahrends for taking time to catch up with us! To learn even more about his exciting research visit his website, HERE!