Professor M.M.S. van Lohuizen (1961) has been named Professor by Special Appointment in the Biology and Epigenetic Regulation of Normal and Cancerous Stem Cells in the Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA) at the University of Amsterdam. The chair has been created by the Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital (NKI-AvL).
Maarten van Lohuizen's research focuses on epigenetic gene regulation, and how the disruption of it can contribute to the development of cancer, and the disruption of normal development. He also makes use of large-scale genetic screening methods in order to track down unknown combinations of genes that can cause cancer. Epigenetics is the study of reversible hereditary changes in gene function which appear without changes in the sequence of the DNA in the cell nucleus. Van Lohuizen's recent work has shown that a central epigenetic control mechanism regulates the balance between stem cell proliferation and the induction of differentiation between diverse stem cell types, and that the disruption of this process can bring ‘cancer stem cells' into being. These cells are a subset of the malignant cancer cells that form the basis of tumour progression, resistance against cancer therapy, and forms of metastatization. Van Lohuizen studies how this process occurs in various types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and brain cancers.
This chair will contribute to strengthening the research relationship between the AMC and the NKI-AvL, particularly in the area of stem cell and cancer stem cell research. This will involve close collaboration with the Neurogenetics working group on the subject of brain tumours, and with the Pathology Department in the area of breast and prostate cancers. In addition, Van Lohuizen will contribute to educational programmes through giving courses for research assistants-in-training, and supervising students doing internships.
Van Lohuizen graduated cum laude in Biology from the University of Amsterdam in 1986 and stayed on to obtain his doctorate cum laude in 1992. He has been a staff member of the Netherlands Cancer Institute since 1995, and became head of the Molecular Genetics Department there in 2002. He was made Professor by Special Appointment at Utrecht University in 2001. He is a member of the Centre for Biomedical Genetics research consortium and the Cancer Genomics Centre, and he holds various advisorial functions including membership on a number of scholarly advisory bodies of international research institutes. He is also a member of the EMBO and the scholarly council for fighting cancer, and chair of the academic staff council of the NKI-AvL. Additionally, he is the organiser of a number of international scholarly conferences, including the first Gordon Research conference about stem cells and cancer.