Prof. Gerald de Haan is the head of the Department of Stem Cell Biology. The Department was established in 2000 and has experienced a steady growth over the last 10 years. Our research is supported by multiple local, national, and international funding agencies.
General research program
The general scope of studies in the Department of Stem Cell Biology is to further improve our understanding of mechanisms that specify normal stem cell functioning. Our studies focus on hematopoietic stem cells, largely because superior technical tools and invaluable functional assays exist to study stem cells in this particular tissue. We are interested in the unique genetic and epigenetic program that distinguishes stem cells from non-stem cells. We use gene and microRNA expression profiling with microarray technology to search for common “expression marks” in stem cells at distinct phases in hematopoietic development. We study how stem cells can be transplanted, and which mechanisms ensure their proper homing and subsequent engraftment to the bone marrow after transplantation. Stem cells are defined by their ability to self-renew and their ability to differentiate into all lineages within a tissue. We are addressing this issue to reconcile the concept of self-renewal with stem cell aging. We study how we can enhance stem cell renewal for potential exploitation in stem cell expansion protocols in vivo and in vitro.