One of the most profound questions in the life sciences is how different cells in multicellular organisms acquire or maintain their specific identity and potential. The molecular mechanisms involved govern the spectacular development of a single cell into a complex multicellular organism, but also provide barriers to alternative fates once cellular identity has been established. The research of the Veenstra group aims to elucidate how epigenetic mechanisms and gene regulatory networks guide early embryonic development and control cellular identity. Using Xenopus embryos and mouse cells as model systems, in combination with next generation sequencing and comparative approaches, we study pluripotency, cell lineage commitment and cellular reprogramming. The research is relevant for the fields of cancer biology and regenerative medicine, and contributes to our understanding of normal development, congenital disease, pluripotency and differentiation.
Gert Jan Veenstra is Professor and Head of Department of Molecular Developmental Biology (Faculty of Science) and Principal Investigator at the RIMLS. He obtained his PhD in developmental biology at Utrecht University in 1996. He performed five years of postdoctoral research in epigenetics, transcription and development at the US National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD). He is a group leader in Nijmegen since 2002.
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