van Amerongen Lab - Developmental, Stem Cell & Cancer Biology

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


Coming up: Weekend van de Wetenschap and Poëzie onder de Microscoop

There are multiple opportunities for the general public to come meet us in October, so come and join us at one of the following events and ask us everything you have always wanted to ask a biologist (we may have partial answers to some of your questions).

On Saturday 1 October we will be at the Science Park Open Day as part of the national Science Weekend (Weekend van de Wetenschap). We are teaming up with the lab of Aniko Korosi for the occasion. So come to us with all your questions about molecules, cells and tissues - and in particular if you want to know how the mammary gland (a.k.a. the breast) grows and develops and ultimately produces milk (and what is in the milk).

Then on Tuesday 11 October, we return to Spui 25 for a reprise of our outreach event "poëzie onder de microscoop" (in Dutch). Our current artist-in-residence, Rosa Schogt, and Renee talk about the link between poetry and science and the language and images that scientists and artists use. Tanne will be moderating the evening.

21 September, 2022

Lab trip to Fabrique des Lumieres

In the last quiet week of summer, before the students are back on campus and the teaching starts, we went to the Westergasfabriek to visit the Klimt/Hundertwasser exhibit by Fabrique des Lumieres.

It was immersive and comes highly recommended with thumbs up from all of us. These few stills containing mammary glands really do not do the whole thing justice.

The weather was also still nice so we had a relaxing lunch outside to catch up on what we had been doing during our summer breaks.

1 September, 2022

Goodbye students

Spring passed quickly and updating the website did not get priority.
We did celebrate the arrival and goodbye of our students with drinks and lunches at De Polder, but their pictures never made it onto the website before the end of the academic year.

Luckily we did manage to take this pretty group picture at the end of March before the blossom fell out of the trees so we have a good record of the 2021-2022 cohort!

Thanks for all the exciting science and good times. We wish everyone the best as they continue on in their careers.

31 August, 2022

NWO XL grant awarded

This year saw multiple grant applications and just as many rejections. Despite what Renée told everyone, it turned out she was not yet dulled and the blows still hurt.

Luckily, the reverse also turned out to be true and Thijs and Renée were ecstatic to learn that after a pre-proposal, full proposal, solid interview prep and a stressful but not unpleasant in person interview (which Renée also attended in May), our NWO-XL consortium grant - together with Hendrik Marks (our tireless consortium coordinator and lead applicant from Nijmegen), Simon van Heeringen (also Nijmegen), Jop Kind (Hubrecht) and Tineke Lenstra (NKI) - has been granted.

This picture was taken when we heard the news but it was still under embargo. That called for a quick celebration before other events would dampen the excitement!

This means there is some very exciting embryonic development coming the way of our lab!
We will probably be hiring a new PhD student early in 2023.

Official UvA press release: click here.

Official summary (in Dutch, voor leken) from the NWO website:

30 July, 2022

Summertime journal club

Summer has arrived and the teaching semester is almost over. Time to switch gears and have journal club the way it must have been intended: outside, on a terras, with coffee/tea and apple pie.

6 July, 2022


With the first students approaching the end of their internship, Tanne again hosted our annual lab BBQ. Good times were had by all.

7 June, 2022

Gordon Research Conference on Mammary Gland Biology

Renée travelled to Tuscany, for one of her favorite conferences (and conference locations...), hoping she would not get stuck at Il Ciocco with a positive COVID-19 test (because nobody can afford that).
Luckily this did not happen and Renée chaired a session at the 2022 GRC on Mammary Gland Biology organized by Maria del Mar Vivanco and Bea Howard. Thank you for your tenacity as this was obviously another example of a conference that should have happend two years earlier...

30 May, 2022

Conference travel is back - but science has changed

Spring saw a huge storm in the Netherlands, war in Europe, and the return of in person scientific meetings. The first conferences still felt a bit awkward... do we mask or not? Everyone probably got used to their personal space having a 1.5 meter radius, so sitting side by side in a conference room did take some getting used to.

Renée travelled to Edinburgh by train, as she was an invited speaker at the (long postponed) annual meeting of the UK Genetics Society. Three days with experts on gen(om)e regulation - awesome!

At the end of April, the whole lab travelled to Switzerland for the ENBDC workshop in Weggis. Renée enjoyed seeing old(er) and familiar faces again, while the rest of the lab finally got the chance to meet others in the European mammary gland biology and breast cancer community. Luckily the weather did not disappoint and we could also hike up mount Rigi to enjoy the views.

Zoom seminars are probably here to stay, and Renée was able to also still squeeze in a talk in Sweden on the day before traveling to Switzerland, hosted by Claudio Cantu.
In the summer we followed up by having a shared lab meeting. We do hope to be able to meet up in Linköping or Amsterdam some day though!

30 April, 2022

Financial support for our artist in residency program

We are excited to announce that the Amsterdams Universiteitsfonds has decided to support our application for continuation of our artist in residency program. This means that, with some additional support from FNWI science communication, we can now offer a stipend to next year’s artist (and to our current artist, Rosa Schogt - thank you for being our adventurous guinea pig!).

We know that artists cannot work for free, so having something other than exciting science to offer makes it a lot nicer to recruit new people. In the fall we will launch a call for artists that are physically located in the Netherlands and that are interested in the crossover between art and science.

11 April, 2022

Welcome students!

All of the new students have started their internships, which we celebrated by going out for lunch in De Polder. Time for a quick (because cold and very windy) group picture - alas not fully complete because, well, corona. Better luck next lunch.

We hope that there will be more light (or rather: space) on the horizon as the lab is again at full occupancy and we are still trying to keep 1.5 meters distance...

Thanks to everyone for sticking with it and continuing to make the best of this whole situation! Stay calm, and keep pipetting.

8 February, 2022

In which we present our artist in residence project to the world

Rosa and Renée presented the first results of the artist in residency at SPUI25. There was room for a small live audience, with others watching the livestream at home.

The topic of the evening was "Poezie onder de microscoop" (or "poetry under the microscoop"), in which we asked the question: is the lab a place for poetry? Wat can science and poetry learn from each other?

We especially liked how interactive the evening was - so thank you to all the audience members for actively participating in the discussion and thank you to Gemma Venhuizen for moderating the evening.

This first presentation has left us hungry for more, so ware are now contemplating ways to follow up. Yes, we are available for parties and conferences and meetings.

You can still watch the recording of the evening here:

The first blog posts inspired by this evening have also appeared online:
The first based on the question whether our science is actually already art can be found here and the second one inspired by a technical glitch in the matrix can be found here (both in Dutch).

1 February, 2022

PhD defense: Anoeska becomes dr. Van de Moosdijk

Today Anoeska defended her PhD thesis in de Agnieten kapel in Amsterdam - just in time before stricter COVID-19 measures were announced, so there was even the possibility for (sit down) drinks and a proper celebration afterwards.

Anoeska passed the defense with flying colors - which is very fitting for a thesis that incorporates so many fluorescent proteins in so many chapters (and so many different mouse strains - kudos for taking on and finishing that challenging project!).
You can find the thesis here and all mouse models (two still unpublished, but we are working on that) should become available via Jackson labs soon.

Since Anoeska still works at SILS, our ways will not part - but with the thesis out of the way we can now only talk about other things! Congratulations, dr. Van de Moosdijk!

16 November, 2021

Wntlab You Tube channel launch

The lab officially turns 8 years old today. A good reason to launch our YouTube channel with one of the first videos we ever made from data produced in the lab by Anoeska van de Moosdijk: A bifurcating terminal end bud with WNT-responsive stem cells scattered throughout. This experiment ultimately resulted in one grant, three new mouse models and the PhD thesis of Anoeska!

Why You Tube? Well, as scientists we are the ultimate content creators!
Find us here:

Still a bit empty for now (and fear not, as soon as we have enough subscribers and content we can apply for a shorter channel name), but we think this will be the best place to drop some pretty movies that otherwise only ever end up in a slide show that too few people will ever see.

1 November, 2021

#BreastCancerAwarenessMonth (2)

The University of Amsterdam Press Communications Office (UvA Persvoorlichting) highlighted the lab on their Instagram account. This time, there was time and space (albeit in 15 second snippets and soundbites) to stress our fundamental research.

Instagram stories are fleeting, but luckily we received all of the original materials so we can also share them here on our own website. We are quite happy with the recordings of our dynamic lab life (and equally happy that the orange G buffer on the vortex made it into the final cut).

With these promotional materials we really no longer have an excuse to not start a lab You Tube channel.

14 October, 2021

#BreastCancerAwarenessMonth (1)

Renée was featured in a newspaper article in "Het Reformatorisch Dagblad" because of Breast Cancer Awareness Week.

She said many interesting things about the importance of basic breast cancer research, but mainly the blurbs that came closer to the patient made it into the final article.

Perhaps it is good to know that when we talk to journalists we always stress that we are "not that type of doctor" and therefore we have to be careful in answering some questions as we cannot and should not give medical advise or make statements on treatment and outcome.

11 October, 2021

older news items