12 janvier 2012: Prof. Hendrik Stunnenberg

Thursday, January 12th 2012, 12h30

Prof. Hendrik G. Stunnenberg
Head of Department of Molecular Biology, Faculties of Medicine and Science
Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands


"The Epigenomic Blueprint of Stem Cells"

The regulation of gene expression is paramount in growth, development, differentiation, signaling, adaptation to the environment and many other processes. Gene expression is regulated at many levels, but primarily by binding of specific transcription factors to regulatory regions, resulting in the recruitment of activating or repressive factors and subsequent changes in mRNA levels and gene activity. Identification of the target gene and binding site networks of transcription factors is vital to understand its role. The application of massively parallel sequencing to ChIP (ChIP-Seq) has opened up new avenues at the genome-wide scale to elucidate entire regulatory networks and pathways. I will discuss our epigenetic/systems biology approach to gain molecular insight into the action of oncofusion proteins in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

In 1996, Hendrik G. Stunnenberg was appointed full professor and head of the Department of Molecular Biology, and has an appointment at the Science and Medical Faculties, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He was a group leader at the EMBL Heidelberg, Germany in the Gene Expression program from 1985 to 1996, where he studied the action of nuclear receptors and also contributed very significantly to deciphering basal transcription processes. He is a member of EMBO since 1992. He is the founder and main organizer of the biennial EMBL meeting on transcription. His group was amongst the first in Europe to establish ChIP in combination with next generation sequencing platform. His research focuses on deciphering the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation during development, differentiation and in cancer. His group participates in several EU consortia focusing on epigenetic profiling. He is the coordinator of BLUEPRINT, an unique European 7th Framework Programme High Impact Project starting October 1st, 2011. BLUEPRINT involve an interdisciplinary network of 42 leading European universities, research institutes and industry entrepreneurs. The BLUEPRINT project is the European cornerstone of the worldwide International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC). IHEC seeks to coordinate the production of reference maps of human epigenomes for key cellular states relevant to health and diseases. (http://www.ihec-epigenomes.org/). BLUEPRINT is in particular focused on hematopoetic cells both from healthy and diseased individuals. The BLUEPRINT project aims to deliver high impact outcomes and results that can be implemented in already existing products or technologies. Epigenetic knowledge is likely to have a major impact on how we will address disease prevention and therapy in the future and contribute to the field of personalised medicine, a rapidly emerging area of healthcare.