Van Amerongen Lab     -      Developmental & Cancer Biology

Section of Molecular Cytology    -     Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences    -     University of Amsterdam  
lab milestones    social    science    teaching    communication & outreach   


Seminar in Aberdeen

Renee gave a talk at the University of Aberdeen, the third oldest university in Scotland. She got to talk about science with loads of different and interesting people all day, which is always a bonus. Thank you to Stefan Hoppler for the invitation and for making this such an enjoyable visit, including the sampling of the local pub food and Indian cuisine!

28 November, 2019

Master class for artists and designers

Renee gave a masterclass for artists and designers at Filip Studios in Arnhem on pattern formation in biology and the molecular processes that normally take place unseen inside our cells.
It was good to meet up with Roos Meerman again, with whom the lab previously collaborated as part of the BioArt and Design Award competition. Thanks also to Sabine Winters for organizing this residency program and for the invitation!

12 November, 2019

Seminar by Jeroen van Zon

Jeroen van Zon, group leader on Quantitative Developmental Biology at AMOLF, visited us from just across the street to give a talk about his work on worms and intestinal organoids. A great example of how biology and physics can be combined to yield new insights about how cell division and differentiation are controlled to guide the development and maintenance of complex animal tissues.

8 November, 2019

Keynote lecture at the Finnish Developmental Biology Society and Stem Cell Network meeting

Renee gave a keynote lecture at the Finnish Developmental Biology Society and Stem Cell Network during their annual retreat just outside of Helsinki. The awesome opening keynote by Josh Brickman was a tough act to follow... It was great to interact and hang out with so many stem cell and developmental biology aficionados for a couple of days. Very impressed by the cool science that is going on in Finland!

Thanks to Marja Mikkola, who turned out to be an excellent tour guide in addition to a developmental biologist, Renee also caught a glimpse of Helsinki on Saturday.

11 October, 2019

Outreach lecture

High school teachers and their students visited the University of Amsterdam for lectures and a behind-the-scenes tour of some of our labs and facilities. Renée gave a talk on the basic science behind stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

2 October, 2019

Poster prize for Saskia de Man at the 2019 GRC on Wnt signalling

Saskia and Renée attended the 2019 GRC on Wnt signaling in Vermont.

Preceding the GRC, Saskia attended the GRS, where she chaired one of the sessions. Renée also chaired a session at the GRC, organised the power hour and gave a talk highlighting the lab’s ongoing work on Wnt gene regulation and functional imaging of Wnt signal transduction. Saskia presented her work in one of the GRC poster sessions and, as icing on the cake, won one of the poster prizes.

Saskia receives one of the poster prizes. photo credit: Arial Zeng

It was a great and interactive meeting and we return to the lab invigorated with lots of great feedback and new ideas.
The next Wnt meeting will take place in September 2020 in Japan. The Wnt meeting will return as a GRC meeting in 2021 and 2023 (location to be announced) and rumor has it that the 2022 Wnt meeting may be held in China or Singapore.

16 August, 2019

Veni grant for Katrin Wiese

We are very excited to announce that Katrin Wiese was awarded a Veni grant from NWO (the Dutch Science Foundation). This competitive personal grant allows Katrin to further develop her ideas on Wnt gene regulation and to zoom in on the molecular processes involved for the coming three years.

Congratulations Katrin!

15 July, 2019

Lab lunch

The Bsc students are wrapping up their internships, so the lab went for lunch at De Polder. Goodbye Beau, Delano and Kyah. Thanks for all your hard work and contributions and good luck in your future endeavors!

10 July, 2019

Travel grants for Nika Heijmans and Saskia de Man

Both Nika Heijmans and Saskia de Man were awarded travel grants from the Amsterdams Universiteitsfonds and the Genootschap ter Bevordering van Natuur-, Genees- en Heelkunde.
Thanks to these grants, Nika will be able to present her PhD work at the Cell Symposium on Transcriptional Regulation in Evolution, Development and Disease in Chicago in October and Saskia will present her PhD project at the 2019 GRS and GRC on Wnt signaling in Vermont in August.

1 July, 2019

Seminar in Leuven

Renée visited the Stem Cell Institute in Leuven, Belgium. She gave a talk and spent the entire day talking about science with PhD students, postdocs and group leaders.
Thank you to Willy Antoni Abreu De Oliveira and Frederic Lluis for the invitation and for organising such a great visit.

27 May, 2019

11th ENBDC workshop on mammary gland biology and breast cancer

Renée travelled to Switzerland for the 11th annual meeting of ENBDC members. This also served as an annual reminder for the lab group picture (see icon on the left and the full size image as part of the time capsule on our alumni page).

Zuzana Koledova organized and chaired a fantastic Weggis meeting. Renée presented a poster and also enjoyed the group hike up a very sunny mount Rigi.

17 May, 2019

5 year Wntlab anniversary

We celebrated the 5 year anniversary of the Wntlab by hosting our first reunion for alumni. It was really good to see so many of our former BSc and MSc students return to Science Park and to hear about their diverse and exciting career steps.

10 May, 2019

The blues

Anoeska brought cake to celebrate the first glimpse of a signal in our new mTurquoise reporter. This is the first mouse strain in the lab generated by CRISPR/Cas9 editing (a collaboration with Ivo Huijbers and Lona Kroese at the Netherlands Cancer Institute).

15 April, 2019

NEMO kinderlezing

12 March, 2019

Awesome Wnt cake

The students celebrated the start of their internships by treating us to an exciting cake:

20 February, 2019

Grand tour of Germany

Renee visited Jena (8 hours by train from Amsterdam) for a PhD committee meeting and gave a talk at the Leibniz center for Aging. Then she took a train to Munich, where she spent the weekend working in a hotel room. On Sunday she met up with Larissa to visit collaborator Christina Scheel for some inside tips on human breast organoid cultures. Six days well spent!

14 February, 2019

Welcome students

Beau, Delano and Kyah started their BSc internships. With their arrival, the lab is crowded and all supervisors are busy again. Here is to happy cloning and good results!

1 February, 2019

Feature in KWF magazine

Renée was featured in "Sterker", the magazine for KWF donors. She was invited to talk about the link between science and art.

15 January, 2019

Volkskrant article on cardiac stem cells

Renée contributed to an article in the Volkskrant by journalist Nienke Zoetbrood.

The piece focuses on a recent study by Hans Clevers and colleagues and discusses the scientific quest to demonstrate the existence (or absence) of cardiac stem cells.

12 January, 2019

Evo-Devo talk for high school teachers

On Saturday morning Renée gave a talk at the 2019 NIBI conference for high school teachers, which was held in Lunteren. This year’s theme was "Evolutie in Actie" ("evolution in action") and the program offered a dazzling number of (interactive) lectures and workshops covering all aspects of evolution.

Renée covered multiple aspects of development, covering both shared features of the body plan in multicellular animals (axis formation, segmentation) as well as fascinating species specific traits - such as why elephants don’t get cancer or the polydactyly observed in Hemingway cats.
In doing so, the audience of about 75 people dove deep into the secrets of the DNA.
Hopefully everyone will return to their classroom inspired - determined to no longer use the term "junk DNA" and ready to dazzle the next generation of biologists with new insights into the molecular mechanisms of chromatin packaging, long-range regulatory enhancers and CRISPR gene-editing technology.

12 January, 2019

First preprint for the lab

We published our first pre-print on Biorxiv:


First author is Tanne van der Wal, who did her BSc internship in the lab. Co-authors are Jan-Paul Lambooij (a technician from the Netherlands Cancer Institute who performed a lot of the experiments together with Renée way back when) and Katrin Wiese (who was instrumental in helping with the FACS analysis to determine the orientation of the TMEM98 protein in the cell membrane).

As detailed in this thread on Twitter, this story has been a long time in the making.

The gist of the story in layman’s terms/for the general public:
We know that the human genome contains the information to make approximately 20,000 different proteins. But we know very little about the molecular function of many of these proteins. Finding out what a specific protein is doing inside the cell can be a lot of hard work: You have to figure out where it hangs out, who it is interacting with and which molecular processes it is affecting.
In this study, we investigated the role and behavior of a protein called TMEM98. We found out that it travels to many different locations inside the cell, including the plasma membrane. We also studied the interaction between TMEM98 and another protein, called FRAT2 - which can activate the WNT signaling pathway (and this is one of the important molecular routes that cells use to communicate with each other: because of that, WNT signaling is a main focus of research in our lab).

Why is this important? Well, the TMEM98 gene has been found to be mutated in patients with an eye disorder called nanophthalmos. These patients are at higher risk of developing glaucoma. Understanding the role of this protein can, in the future, hopefully help explain the origin of this disorder. Finally, recent studies also suggest that the TMEM98 protein may play a role in cancer, atherosclerosis and immune cell differentiation. Our study provides a small piece of the puzzle for ultimately understanding of how TMEM98 works to control so many different aspects of cell behavior.

4 January, 2019

Welcome Rianne

Rianne started her first MSc internship in December. She joined the other Molecular Cytology internship students for a cloning class under the supervision of Anna, and imaged her first fluorescent fusion protein constructs before Christmas!
She will be working under the joint supervision of Saskia and Marten Postma on the functional imaging of Wnt signal transduction.

1 January, 2019

Next step for Anoeska

Today was officially the last day that Anoeska was employed as a PhD student. We were already slowly getting used to this, as she had been working in the lab part time since taking on a new job as management assistant in our institute.

We celebrated with some goodbye cake and a picture in her new office, which is only a few doors down from the rest of the lab. The chapters for the thesis have been outlined and there are plenty of exciting data to be discussed - so here’s to a smooth writing process. Good luck Anoeska!

21 December, 2018

ENBDC Think Tank in Bilbao

Renée visited Bilbao for the second time in two weeks (what are the chances...) for a Think Tank meeting of the ENBDC organizing committee. Maria del Mar Vivanco took excellent care of the organization, which not only included the scientific program but also some really good pintxos.
It was good to discuss science for a full day without any other distractions - especially in such great company.

13 December, 2018

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