Getting to know...Carsten Daub

Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background in five sentences?

My name is Carsten Daub, I am an Associate Professor at the Karolinska Institute and at the Science for Life lab (SciLifeLab) in Stockholm. I grew up in Berlin and did my school education, my university master’s degree in chemistry and my PhD degree in Bioinformatics in Berlin.

How did you decide to become a researcher?

During my university studies. I enjoyed project work a lot, and I found my passion for science during my master’s thesis. When I went on with my PhD thesis, I realised that becoming a researcher would be for me.

What is the main goal of your current investigation?

My lab is working with understanding the gene regulation underlying diseases, by identifying the gene regulatory elements. We would like to know which genes and which gene regulatory elements are important for certain diseases, and how do they regulate a process; if it is going according to the plan and what goes wrong during the disease.

Which part of your work are you most proud of?

I think I’m very proud of many things actually. I am happy with many things, one of them being the work on the FANTOM project. We made resources that are very relevant and very important for many researchers around the world.

A more specific example would be finding genes that are dysregulated in human insuline response. I hope that this insight will lead to opportunities for helping people affected by this disease.

If you weren’t a scientist, what would you have become?

Actually, I’m very lucky in the sense that I have a lot of interests so I can think of many things, one specific being IT. I like working with IT a lot. So I would love to develop new ideas, new technologies, and, yeah, try to do some unexpected crazy things.

How do you spend your free time?

I play a lot of sports. I enjoy sports a lot, I always feel very good after I played sports. I especially enjoy sports in a team. It’s really good to work together in a team and then achieve something, that you do not do by yourself. That is something I enjoy a lot.

I also have a family: I have children, I have a wife, so I also enjoy spending a lot of time with them.

How do you think ZENCODE can contribute to science?

ZENCODE is, to a larger extent, about annotating the zebrafish genome, about developing the zebrafish as a model organism. We would like to use the zebrafish as a model organism to better understand human disease.

We contribute to ZENCODE by identifying the gene regulatory elements that can be active in the zebrafish genome.

This knowledge about the genes and the gene regulatory elements can, I think, encourage many researchers in the world to use zebrafish as a model for human disease.

What do you think is the most challenging for you in this project?

We are conducting the project by collecting experimental data that has been produced by many labs all over the world. Bringing these data together and to unify them in a stringent way is, I think, a very challenging aspect. The project also requires to collect a lot of information about the experiments that were done by either reading the literature, or by talking or communicating with the researchers. I think that’s one of the most challenging parts of ZENCODE.

What is the best way to follow your research activities?

The lab tries to keep our website ( updated. We have a Twitter account (), and we participate in various networks. And of course, if you are interested in our research, you can find and read the papers we wrote in the literature.

Finally, what advice would you give to the ESRs (Early Stage Researchers) and other future scientists?

I would say, to finding out what drives you, what makes you happy, which kind of work makes you happy and to try to do more of that, that makes you happy!