Our research aims at unraveling the molecular basis of development and differentiation emanating from the genome and epigenome in the context of health and disease with emphasis on cancer. The major focus is on the regulatory networks in human and mouse as well as Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria. State-of-the-art technological developments are applied ranging from single molecule studies through to genome wide elucidation of genetic and epigenetic pathways and mechanisms. The lack of a quantitative framework around the dynamics of the epigenome and its determinants represents a major hurdle for the translation of epigenetic observations into regulatory models, for the identification of associations between epigenotypes and diseases and the subsequent development of a entire new class of compounds for their prevention and treatment. Next Generation Sequencing platforms are routinely used to analyze transcription factor binding sites, 3D structure, epigenetic marks, DNA-methylation and RNA transcriptomes at a comprehensive genome wide scale. In depths analysis of the genome wide data is performed and sustained by our own bioinformatic team as well as with outside collaborators. The group participates in a number of international consortia tackling pathways and molecular mechanisms in lineage commitment of (embryonic) stem cells and pluripotency (PLURISYS, GENCODYS, nuclear receptor action (TI-pharma) and cancer (BASIS, ICGC) and method development (ATLAS). Stunnenberg is the coordinator of BLUEPRINT that aims at generating at least 100 reference epigenomes and studying them to advance and exploit knowledge of the underlying biological processes and mechanisms in health and disease. BLUEPRINT will focus on distinct types of haematopoietic cells from healthy individuals and on their malignant leukaemic counterparts. Reference epigenomes will be generated by state-of-the-art technologies from highly purified cells for a comprehensive set of epigenetic marks.
Henk Stunnenberg is full professor and head of the Department of Molecular Biology. He is a member of EMBO.
He is coordinator of the EU FP7 High Impact Project BLUEPRINT-epigenome and co-chair of the scientific steering of the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC).
National & International Personal Prizes & Awards
2013: ERC Advanced Grant of € 2.5 million for his project 'SysStemCell'.
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