Van Amerongen Lab                    Stem cell and Cancer Biology

Section of Molecular Cytology     -     Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences     -     University of Amsterdam
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News archive


National Finalist

Nicolaas, who did his BSc internship in our group under the supervision of Nika, was a national finalist in the annual competition for best biology thesis. This competition is organised once a year by the LOBS (Landelijk Overleg Biology Studenten), the organisation of Dutch biology students.
On 8 December Nicolaas got the opportunity to present his research in front of a jury in a fifteen minute talk at the LCBS (Landelijk Congres Biologie Studenten). While he didn’t bring home the Darwin award, we could not be more proud that one of our students made it this far in the competition!

9 December, 2017


Symposium at the Georg Speyer Haus in Frankfurt

Renée gave a talk at the two-day symposium "Dynamics of adult stem cells and cancer" in Frankfurt, Germany. The event was organised by Henner Farin, a junior group leader at the Georg Speyer Haus (an institute for tumor biology and experimental therapy with an entire room dedicated to its first director Paul Ehrlich, one of the founders of modern chemotherapy) and featured talks on a wide variety of topics and cancers, ranging from the hematopoietic system to the liver and from novel bioinformatics approaches to the latest in organoid culture technology and targeted therapy to explore cancer vulnerabilities.
It was great to talk to all the other speakers in the line up, which included some familiar and plenty of new faces, but also to get the chance to interact with junior scientists during the lunch and coffee breaks.

26 October, 2017


Grassroots project awarded

Earlier this week, Renee and Nika introduced our personally designed stem cell board game to 3rd year BSc students in the Frontiers in Medical Biology course. Today, we heard that we can develop this game further thanks to the award of a Grassroots proposal from the University of Amsterdam that Renee wrote together with SILS colleague Gooitzen Zwanenburg.


The idea of the Grassroots initiative is to develop novel online learning approaches. Gooitzen and Renee will use the award to develop an online version of the stem cell game, with the goal of finding an intuitive, playful way of bridging the gap between the complex and dynamic biology and the mathematical models that quantitatively describe it.

6 October, 2017


Welcome Jasmijn

Today Jasmijn started her BSc internship in the group. Under the supervision of Saskia, she will work on functional imaging of Wnt signal transduction.

4 September, 2017


What’s Next?

The University of Amsterdam turns 385 years old this year. It is still very much alive and kicking however, which is why yesterday we asked: "What’s Next"?

The beautiful Tuschinski theater (normally one of the city’s prettiest cinemas) turned into a talkshow studio for the occasion, as Robbert Dijkgraaf interviewed a bunch of scientists about the endless opportunities (as well as potential ethical issues and difficult decisions) that face us in the near future. Renée took part in the short segment dedicated to "Humanity", where she got to briefly highlight the promises and perils of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology alongside interesting discussions about machine learning and questions such as: "Who is responsible when a self-driving car gets into an accident?"



Other segments addressed the challenges we face when it comes to preserving our planet and allocating its resources, and the afternoon ended with a more philosophical discussion about what awaits us in the universe, both in terms of potential life forms and in practical issues regarding space law and asteroid resource ownership. There was music, fashion and stand-up comedy as well to make for an interesting afternoon of all that the University has to offer and think about, after which the entire audience went home with a piece of "Soop", courtesy of Peel Pioneers.
Once the official program was finished, a bunch of young curious minds under 18 got the opportunity to mix and mingle with the scientists backstage and it was good to talk to at least some of them.
By the way, if you take a good look at the promotion material that will be used throughout the year, you can also see quite some familiar faces in the dynamic "385" logo. Our students turn out to be quite photogenic.

Click here to read more about the event

3 September, 2017


Meeting report ENBDC online

The meeting report of the 9th ENBDC Weggis workshop on mammary gland biology and breast cancer has been published in Breast Cancer Research. It is co-authored by Katrin, who chaired this year’s PhD and postdoc session together with Romain Amante from the Bentires-Alj lab in Basel.

28 August, 2017


KWF grant awarded

We are excited that Renée was awarded a grant from the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Kankerbestrijding). This allows us to continue our studies on the role of aberrant Wnt signaling in breast cancer. For this project, we will collaborate with the groups of Hans Clevers (Utrecht), Jos Jonkers (Amsterdam) and Christina Scheel (Germany).

(ENG)
What are we going to study?
Wnt signaling, the main topic of study in our lab, is frequently hyper-activated in different tumors, most notably in colorectal cancer. In other tumor types, including breast cancer, the involvement of the Wnt pathway is less well understood. In recent years it has become clear that Wnt signaling is probably deregulated via subtle alterations, that for a long time simply proved more difficult to detect than those in, say, colorectal cancer.
Pharmaceutical companies have been trying to develop multiple Wnt signaling inhibitors and some of these have entered clinical trials. The hope is that they will also be beneficial for breast cancer patients. But breast cancer is a complex disease, with many different subtypes that may very well respond differently to changes in Wnt signaling or a Wnt pathway inhibitor. To date, this has never been properly tested.
In this project, we aim to answer the important basic research question of how the Wnt pathway collaborates with other genetic mutations in tumor progression. We will also try to determine whether all or only a subset of breast cancer subtypes respond to Wnt-pathway inhibition: knowledge that has to be gained if in the future we want to predict which individual patient might benefit from a therapy aimed at targeting the Wnt pathway.

(NL)
Wat gaan we onderzoeken?
Wnt signalering, de belangrijkste focus van ons onderzoek, is vaak gehyperactiveerd in tumoren. Het meest bekende voorbeeld is darmkanker. In andere typen tumoren, waaronder borstkanker, begrijpen we de rol van de Wnt pathway veel minder goed. In de afgelopen jaren is wel duidelijk geworden dat de Wnt pathway in borstkanker hoogstwaarschijnlijk subtiele veranderingen heeft ondergaan, die voor een lange tijd simpelweg veel moeilijker te detecteren waren dan de mutaties die gevonden worden in bijvoorbeeld darmkanker.
De farmaceutische industrie probeert al heel lang om verschillende Wnt-pathway remmers te ontwikkelen en sommige van deze medicijnen worden nu getest in clinical trials. Iedereen hoopt dat ze ook bij de behandeling van borstkanker kunnen worden ingezet. Maar borstkanker is een complexe ziekte met veel verschillende subtypes - en het zou goed kunnen dat die verschillen in hun gevoeligheid voor Wnt signalering en dus voor een Wnt-pathway remmer. Tot nog toe is dat nog nooit goed onderzocht.
In dit project, willen we een belangrijke fundamentele onderzoeksvraag beantwoorden: Hoe werkt de Wnt pathway samen met andere genetische mutaties bij het ontstaan van borstkanker? We willen ook bepalen of alle, of misschien alleen een subset van de borstkankersoorten reageert op remming van de Wnt pathway. Deze kennis is nodig als we in de toekomst in staat willen zijn om te voorspellen welke individuele patient eventueel baat zou kunnen hebben bij behandeling met een Wnt-pathway remmer.

16 August, 2017


Goodbye students

This week both Britt and Nicolaas gave a talk presenting the work they performed during their internships. With Catia, Lieve and Tanne also gearing up to finish their last experiments this meant it was time for another lab dinner to say goodbye to another great batch of students. Katrin hosted a gluten-free pizza party for the occasion, which culminated in gluten-free Oreo cheesecake and a game of cards-against-humanity.
The students presented us with an awesome Wnt-inspired and poetic etching*, which deserves (and will find) a prominent spot in our lab/office space. Thanks to all of them for their hard work, enthusiasm and fresh input - and good luck with everything that comes next!


* Yes, this is Z-DNA. Everybody knows we need more left-handedness in this world. Besides, it is only a matter of time before we unravel the functional importance of one of nature’s greatest mysteries. We are glad the students distilled this as the take-home message from their time in our lab.

7 July, 2017


Group picture 2016-2017



The official 2016-2017 @wntlab group picture is finally here. Thanks to @joachimgoedhart for managing to get a decent photograph out of this dynamic and lively bunch.

7 July, 2017


NWO talent scheme

Renée travelled to The Hague, where she sat on a VIDI/VICI laureate-and-committee-member panel with prof.dr.ir. Wim van der Putten to talk about her experiences in applying for (and ultimately obtaining) the much coveted VIDI grant. The goal was to answers questions from researchers planning to submit a proposal for the upcoming round of the NWO Vernieuwingsimpuls.

To her surprise, a substantial part the discussion revolved around parental leave issues and extension clauses - important to many, no doubt, but perhaps not exactly the best use of a panel with inside information about the application process and interview sessions. Later on the Q&A also covered the importance of the rebuttal, how to present your teaching and mentoring experience in the best possible light and how to demonstrate independence (including what current and former supervisors can do to support this independence).
It was good to talk to all of these enthusiastic scientists (both during the panel and later during one on one interactions) and it remains frustrating to see so many skilled and talented researchers having to fight for the scarce available funding.

6 July, 2017


Viva la viva

Renée travelled to Cambridge, where she was the external examiner for a PhD viva and got the opportunity to meet old and new colleagues. It is really interesting to come across all the different ways in which PhD defences are organised in different countries (which means that it is also always smart to ask for explicit advise from a local as to what is expected of an opponent in that particular academic culture...)

The Dutch defence is a public ceremony, which lasts exactly 45 minutes and which is full of ancient ceremony and university ritual. The room is filled with colleagues, family and friends and each committee member has 5-10 minutes to ask questions. While not exactly just-for-show (the candidate still has to deliver and can theoretically fail), the defence takes place once the thesis has been thoroughly reviewed, printed and bound and it would be extremely rare for a candidate not to be awarded their PhD at this moment.
The British viva (or oral examination) takes place behind closed doors in a meeting room a couple of doors away from the lab with just the candidate, an internal and an external examiner (and an anxious supervisor further down the hall) and it is essentially a multi-hour grilling session about the candidate’s work. At this point, the thesis is still in the draft stage and the examiners can actually ask for minor or even major revisions that would send the candidate back to either the computer or the lab.

Renée really enjoyed the long discussion about all things Wnt. The candidate might have felt differently, but all is well that ends well: without giving away too many details it is probably safe to reveal that the day ended with cake and champagne.

27 June, 2017


poster prize for Amber

Amber won (shared) first place in the poster prize competition at the annual SILS research day. She presented her work on the role of Wnt signaling in the mammary epithelium using primary mammary organoids as a model system. Congratulations!

22 June, 2017


GRC on mammary gland biology and breast cancer

Renée attended (and chaired a session at) the 2017 GRC conference on mammary gland biology. Approximately 200 scientists gathered in the Stoweflake Conference Center in Vermont (for the aficionados: that is close to the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory). It was great to catch up with old colleagues and to meet so many new ones.



Heide Ford and Mike Lewis put together an inspiring program with a diverse set of talks on topics ranging from tumor dormancy to lactation biology, presented by a mix of early career scientists and established leaders in the field. In true GRC style old and young had plenty of opportunity to mix and mingle during the poster sessions and at meals.
Kaylee Schwertfeger and Weston Porter were elected as chairs for the 2019 GRC. Next year, Renée will organise and chair the 2018 GRC (set to be held in Il Ciocco, Italy) together with Christina Scheel. We will keep you posted on updates!

20 June, 2017


March for Science: The Event

(ENG)
On Saturday 22 April we joined scientists in more than 500 cities worldwide in the March for Science. Nika and Renée talked to the general public for about five hours straight to explain the principles and challenges of basic research in the life sciences. We got lots of great feedback on our poster and everybody who left their e-mail address with us should get a copy soon.

(NL)
Op zaterdag 22 april namen wij samen met duizenden andere wetenschappers wereldwijd deel aan de ’March for Science’. Nika en Renée stonden in de ’Exploration’ tent op het Museumplein, waar we van 11:30 tot 16:30 non-stop uitleg mochten geven over fundamenteel onderzoek naar de bouwstenen van het leven aan een niet aflatende stroom bezoekers.
Het was fijn om vrienden en (oud)collega’s te zien, maar we zijn vooral enorm blij dat we zoveel niet-wetenschappers te woord konden staan. Het was duidelijk dat veel mensen de wetenschap een warm hart toedragen. U kwam overal vandaan (van Heemstede tot Seattle en van Chili tot Bussum) en was van alle leeftijden. Wat was u nieuwsgierig en wat stelde u een goede vragen!
We zijn uiteraard blij dat onze poster zo goed in de smaak viel. Iedereen die een e-mail adres bij ons heeft achter gelaten, zal binnenkort een kopie krijgen om op school aan de muur te hangen. Wij denken inmiddels alvast na over een vervolg, want wij komen u graag nog eens tegen.

22 April, 2017


March for science (update)

With only a week to go, the March For Science is rapidly approaching. Together with Katrin and Nika, Renée will be among the scientists that will answer questions from the general public in one of two ’teach-in’ tents (appropriately named ’Discovery’ and ’Exploration’ for the occasion).

Everybody is born with an innate curiosity - so come on over and bring your friends, kids, or (grand)parents. Check out the program, there is plenty of cool stuff to see, hear and do for everybody.

15 April, 2017


New lab practical in the making

This may look like just a bunch of M&Ms to you, but in the lab this turns out to be the beginning of a new practical exercise that Renée hopes to incorporate into the upcoming edition of Frontiers in Medical Biology (a course for 3rd year BSc students).
Curious what this is supposed to represent? Think stem cells!

13 April, 2017


March for science

Today Renée attended a brainstorm session at the Nemo Science Centre on how to mobilize people to the March For Science on 22 April 2017. It was enlightening and empowering to be in a room with so many people from different walks of life (not all were scientists, but all value science and empirical evidence).



Admittedly, Renée felt a bit like a fish out of water at times: protesting and activism is usually not the first thing scientists turn to. However, in view of current global affairs (including an increase in fact-free politics) we cannot afford to be silent. Facts matter. Science is vital. It is everywhere and affects everyone. And that is #WhyIMarch on 22 April 2017.

2 April, 2017


EMBO practical course

Last week Nika attended the EMBO practical course "Techniques for mammary gland research". It was a great opportunity to meet other early career researchers studying various aspects of mammary gland biology and to learn the ins and outs of a variety of techniques from expert instructors.

28 March, 2017


9th ENBDC Workshop

The annual ENBDC workshop on methods in mammary gland biology and breast cancer was held in Weggis from 9-11 March. Amber, Katrin, Saskia and Renée travelled to Switzerland to attend and present posters. Katrin also organised the postdoc and PhD session, focussing on proteomics, together with Romain Amante from the Bentires-Alj lab.
From microcapsules to mass cytometry and from CRISPR/Cas9 screens to single cell sequencing, the meeting covered a lot of ground. So did the attendants: on our free afternoon, we scaled mount Rigi, which was still covered in snow and which, once at the top, provided wonderful views over the Vierwaldstättersee.



Keep an eye on the ENBDC website for details about next year’s (10th anniversary!) edition.

14 March, 2017


Visit to Jena

Renée visited Jena, where she gave a talk and met with colleagues at the Leibniz Institute on Aging. It was an interesting and fun visit and it felt great to be surrounded by present day scientists in the town of Ernst Haeckel, who always pops up in her developmental biology lectures (and who drew some impressive bioart - as per this link, by the way).

15 February, 2017


New group picture

Now that all of the students for 2016-2017 have started, it is time for a new group picture. The lighting in the lecture hall was horrible, but everybody was present and therefore in the picture. A better shot will follow once spring has arrived.

9 February, 2017


Tenure

After a positive mid-term evaluation, Renée was promoted to associate professor with tenure. Thanks to everybody in the team for making these past few years such a pleasure and succes!

1 February, 2017


Welcome Yorick

Yorick has joined the lab as a new PhD student. He will work on identifying the mammary stem cell niche. We are happy to add a Y to our mix!

1 February, 2017


Happy holidays

On Saturday we visited the Amsterdam Light Festival. This year’s theme? Biomimicry. From nerve cells to birds’ nests and from arachnids to rotifers - the biology inspired exhibits lit up the area around Waterlooplein.



We also added our own contribution with a bit of light painting. Practice makes perfect, so from our lab to yours: Happy holidays and a bright 2017!



(pictures by Nika Heijmans)

17 December, 2016


ENBDC news update

Renée travelled to Paris for an ENBDC committee meeting, hosted at the Curie Institute by Marina Glukhova. Here are some updates of the exciting year ahead for those interested in mammary gland biology and breast cancer:

- The annual workshop in Weggis will take place in March of this year. This is earlier than usual, which means that the registration deadline is 5 January 2017! So spread the word and do not forget to sign up if you plan on attending this small-scale, techniques oriented meeting. On a side note: it looks like the PhD and postdoc session will be here to stay. We have edited the registration form so you can indicate your interest in organising this session next year at sign up!

- Thanks to a lot of hard work by Maria Vivanco (Bilbao, Spain) and Matt Smalley (Cardiff, UK) the ENBDC is proud to announce the inaugural version of an EMBO practical course focusing on mammary gland techniques. This first edition will focus on techniques for the dissection and dissociation of different subpopulations of both mouse and human mammary cells. Also here the registration deadline is fast approaching (9 January) and space is limited.

16 December, 2016


Guest lecture at the Spinoza Lyceum

Today Anoeska gave a guest lecture at the Spinoza Lyceum in Amsterdam. She talked about CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome editing and was excited to find so many interested high school students eager to engage in a discussion about the promises and pitfalls of this exciting technology!

13 December, 2016


Opening of the 2016 BAD award exhibit

On Friday 2 December the public was finally able to see the results of the 2016 BAD award competition. Lilian van Daal and Roos Meerman won the race against the clock. Assisted by Joppe Spaans they managed to get all their kinetic 3D printed objects moving just in time before the official opening, which took place at the MU gallery in Eindhoven.


’Elabricate’ (left) and ’Lactility’ (right). These moving 3D printed objects were inspired by human lung and breast tissue. To create them, Lilian and Roos developed novel 3D printing techniques.

Lilian, Roos and Renée were able to reflect on their collaboration in an interview session. Later in the evening, they provided a bit more background for the Dynamorphosis project, when all artists provided a guided tour through the exhibition space.


A glimpse of the ’Dynamorphosis’ exhibition space (left) and an otherworldly impression of ’Haem’ by fellow BAD award winners Cecilia Jonsson and Rodrigo Leite de Oliveira (right)

If you have the opportunity, you should definitely go to Eindhoven to visit the ’Fluid Matter’ exposition. It is open to the general public until 26 February 2017 and hosts a terrific selection of Bio Art and Design that is as thought provoking as it is aesthetically pleasing.

2 December, 2016


New students

Lieve was the first student to join our lab in the 2016-2017 academic year. She will work on the mammary organoid system under the supervision of Amber. Welcome!

1 December, 2016


The 2016 Weggis ENBDC meeting report

The meeting report of the 2016 ENBDC meeting in Weggis was published in Breast Cancer Research. You can read it here. Anoeska and Renée authored the piece together with Bethan Lloyd-Lewis, Mohammed Bentires-Alj and Robert Clarke. We’re happy it’s out, because the 2017 meeting is already just around the corner!

29 November, 2016


Congrats to our fellow MC’ers

Congratulations to our fellow MC’ers (in particular Daphne, Lindsay and Laura with whom we share the wet lab, and of course our very own Katrin, who is a co-author on the paper) with the publication of their mScarlet story. Read the UvA press release about this bright red fluorescent protein here. Do you have an above average interest in fluorescent proteins? Of course you can also read the full story, which was published in Nature Methods, here.

(image by Lindsay Haarbosch)

23 November, 2016


BAD award 2016 update

Designers Roos Meerman and Lilian van Daal are working very hard to finish their project "Dynamorphosis" in time for the opening exhibit at the MU gallery in Eindhoven on 2 December 2016. So keep your eyes on the BAD award website for updates and behind the scenes information.
A first glimpse of all the beauty that awaits visitors can be seen in the sneak preview to the left. (photo by Lilian van Daal and Roos Meerman)

18 November, 2016


New issue of Amsterdam Science

The latest issue of Amsterdam Science is out. Pick it up if you are near, or download the PDF version of the magazine here. Issue 4 also contains a piece on the recently published Petrinet paper (a collaboration with colleagues from the VU) by Nika and Annika Jacobsen.

3 November, 2016


Docent Uitgelicht

Renée was interviewed for the faculty’s online series "Docent Uitgelicht".
You can read the piece here (in Dutch) or here (in English).
(photos were made by Liesbeth Dingemans)

1 November, 2016


New protocol chapter is out

Officially, the publication date is still in the future, but our protocol chapter on lineage tracing of mammary gland and progenitor cells is out. Anoeska and Renée wrote the chapter in collaboration with the group of Jane Visvader (Australia). As a result, the chapter covers both tamoxifen-inducible CreERT2/loxP as well as doxycycline-inducible rtTA/tetO-Cre/loxP tracing systems.
The chapter is one of a collection of experimental protocols on Mammary Gland Development, published as part of the Springer Protocol series. The volume was edited by Finian Martin, Torsten Stein and Jillian Howlin.

1 November, 2016


New publication in Scientific Reports

Our paper on the identification and validation of novel reference genes for qRT-PCR studies of the mouse mammary gland is out! In this (open access) paper published in Scientific Reports, Anoeska and Renée used published microarray datasets to find genes that are stably expressed in different stages of mammary gland development. Our hypothesis was that some of these genes could function as reliable, tissue-specific reference genes for qRT-PCR studies and we validated this experimentally.
Click here to read what we found out!

(NL)
Voor de geïnteresseerde leek: Alle weefsels en organen in ons lichaam zijn ontzettend dynamisch. Er worden voortdurend nieuwe cellen geboren. Daar staat tegenover dat zieke of verouderde cellen worden opgeruimd. Sommige weefsels veranderen ook onder invloed van hormonen - ze gaan dan harder groeien, of maken andere cellen en eiwitten aan. Dit is bijvoorbeeld het geval in de borstklier tijdens de puberteit en tijdens de zwangerschap. Uiteindelijk zijn het de genen in ons DNA die ervoor zorgen dat een weefsel zoveel dynamische eigenschappen heeft. Wetenschappers willen graag weten welke genen voor deze veranderingen zorgen, omdat veranderingen in diezelfde genen een rol kunnen spelen bij het ontstaan van kanker. Maar wie wil bestuderen welke genen hun activiteit veranderen, moet hiervoor als controle een paar genen kunnen gebruiken waarvan de activiteit niet verandert. Dit zijn zogenaamde referentiegenen. In dit onderzoek hebben wij met behulp van bioinformatische analyses in grote, complexe datasets gezocht naar genen die zo’n stabiel expressiepatroon hebben. Op die manier hebben we drie genen ontdekt (Phf7, Prdx1 en Ctbp1) die zich tijdens de ontwikkeling van de borstklier veel stabieler gedragen dan de tot nu toe gebruikte referentiegenen. We kunnen nu veel preciezer detecteren welke genen er in het borstweefsel wel veranderingen in activiteit vertonen. Bovendien is deze zelfde aanpak in principe ook toe te passen op andere weefsels, want daar zullen weer andere genen zich stabieler gedragen.

18 October, 2016


Up on the roof

On Friday evening we visited our colleagues of the astronomy department at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for a tour of the observatories. These structures are two characteristic features on the roof of the Science Faculty and serve as handy pointers to direct visitors to the right building.
A visit to the telescopes that are normally hidden from view had been on our wishlist for a long time.



There was no actual stargazing involved (a bit too early and a bit too cloudy for that), but it was really nice to get a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes in a different discipline. And to realize that while we may not have a super cool revolving chamber, at least we can always lock ourselves up in the dark to stare down our microscopes!

7 October, 2016


Champagne!

Champagne to celebrate the acceptance of our paper. May this be the first of many corks to pop!

4 October, 2016


Paper accepted in Scientific Reports

Our paper "Identification of reliable reference genes for qRT-PCR studies of the developing mouse mammary gland" by Anoeska and Renée was accepted for publication in Scientific Reports!

3 October, 2016


Omroep Max Wekker Wakker

This morning, Renée was interviewed by "Wekker Wakker", the wake-up show of Omroep Max on Radio 5.
With only a few days to go before the announcements of the 2016 Nobel prizes, there‘s a lot of CRISPR buzz and with Jennifer Doudna receiving the Heinekenprijs and a nice interview about her work in yesterday‘s Volkskrant, Omroep Max had also noted that she is a prime contender for receiving the award.
You can listen to the episode here (the science bit is around 9:15, so towards the end of the morning show).

30 September, 2016


Opening ceremony of the new O|2 lab building

Today the new O|2 building at the ‘Zuidas’, which will be our home in the near future once our labs are finished, was officially opened. As part of the festivities, Renee gave a TedxO|2 talk, where she shared 5 interesting facts about the mammary gland. Because concurrent asynchronous lactation is a remarkable feat of nature!

29 September, 2016


Labouting 2016

We had our annual lab day out in our very own Vondelpark, for an afternoon of competitive games. A perfect backdrop for a new lab picture with Team Wnt.

28 September, 2016


LabLinks

Renée gave a talk at the Cell Press LabLink day about our work using primary mammary organoids. The LabLink day was held at the Trippenhuis in Amsterdam. Researchers from throughout the Netherlands (as well as guest speakers from abroad) gathered to talk about "The organoid revolution: Organs in a dish".
It made for an exciting day with talks focusing not only on the establishment of organoids from multiple tissues using a diverse range of approaches (gut, liver, salivary and mammary gland, brain), but also their application in both basic and translational research. Although it became clear that there are quite some hurdles to overcome when moving things from bench to bedside, there are also exciting developments (as demonstrated in the talks of Rob Coppes and Jeff Beekman, for instance).

27 September, 2016


Perspective in Developmental Cell

Together with Kyle Loh and Roel Nusse from Stanford University, Renée wrote a perspective on the role of the Wnt pathway in the evolution of multicellular animals. It is out now in Developmental Cell and you can access it here.

The gist of the story for non specialists:
Multicellular animals are complex organisms. They are more than just a clump of cells - each cell has a specialised function but also needs to work together with its neighbours. The Wnt pathway plays a special role in coordinating these processes. It can not only tell a specific cell which role to carry out, but it can also control the orientation or migration of a cell. And in complex tissues, it often does these two things at the same time! The fact that one signaling pathway combines these two important functions is probably one of the reasons why it is indispensable for the development of all multicellular animal species known to date. Basically, without Wnt signaling we would not be able to tell front from back and top from bottom!

26 September, 2016


Wnt meeting 2016

Anoeska and Renée attended the Wnt meeting, which was held in Brno, hometown of Mendel, in the Czech Republic. The Mendelian ratio of this meeting was quite low: the program was super full and we only had the opportunity to swiftly pass by the walls of the convent behind which Mendel counted his peas.

The meeting itself, however, was a great success. Lots of exciting and frequently unpublished data - and enthusiastic participants willing to share details and insights. It was great to see how novel experimental approaches are slowly revealing the secrets that our favourite signaling pathway still holds. As for our own contribution: Anoeska gave a talk and presented a poster on our functional imaging studies.

20 September, 2016


Developmental Biology by Gilbert and Barresi

Renée was excited to find out that two of her review papers are cited in the brand new, 11th edition of Developmental Biology - the textbook that she is also using in her Frontiers in Medical Biology class. While the 10th edition (from 2014) did not feel outdated, the 11th edition (from 2016) really covers the state of the art in experimental biology, including more extensive coverage of Cre/lox and CRISPR/Cas9 technology. And since most of the students accidentally purchased the latest edition, it is probably time to switch over.

If you want to read the real papers instead of the textbook: you can find Green et al. (2014) here and van Amerongen and Nusse (2009) here.

20 September, 2016


Welcome Saskia

Saskia has joined the lab as a new PhD student. She will study the Wnt pathway using functional imaging.

15 September, 2016


Special Issue on Wnt signaling and Cancer

We are happy to announce that the Special Issue for Cancers on Wnt signaling and cancer, which Renée edited together with Walter Birchmeier, is now available online. Bar a few submissions that are in the final stages of editing and processing, the issue is now complete. Thanks to all of those who contributed!

29 August, 2016


Publication in Cell Reports

Amber and Renée are co-authors on a paper that is now available online at Cell Reports. The study, entitled "PTEN Loss in E-Cadherin-Deficient Mouse Mammary Epithelial Cells Rescues Apoptosis and Results in Development of Classical Invasive Lobular Carcinoma" describes how the combined loss of E-cadherin and PTEN in mouse mammary epithelial cells induces mouse mammary tumors that closely resemble classical invasive lobular carcinoma.
This collaboration was headed by the group of Jos Jonkers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. Amber and Renée contributed to the experiments that were performed using primary mammary organoid cultures. Because these structures allow relatively easy experimental manipulation and visualisation, they are well suitable for studying the early effects of tumor suppressor gene loss on mammary epithelial cell behaviour. Normally, these events occur inside the body, where they are hidden from view.

29 August, 2016


A present from our students

Our students left us a lovely gift that we have already put to good use: real wine glasses (in lieu of paper cups), engraved with some of our own quotes (totally taken out of context, of course).

29 August, 2016


Gordon Research Conference

Renée attended the Gordon Research Conference on Mammary Gland Biology in Italy, where she gave a talk about ongoing (and mainly unpublished) work of the lab. It was a wonderful meeting, with a full and interesting program (so it did not really matter that the weather in Tuscany was a bit confused and offered mostly rain).
We are also happy to announce that Renée was elected to organise and chair the 2018 edition together with Christina Scheel. Before that, the community will meet in the US in the summer of 2017.

If you want to stay in touch with the mammary gland biology and breast cancer community, consider following @enbdc on Twitter or become a friend of the Society for Mammary Gland Biology on Facebook.

3 June, 2016


New @wntlab picture

Renée is giving a talk at the 2016 Gordon Research Conference on Mammary Gland Biology. Time for a new @wntlab picture with all of the current students!

31 May, 2016


Looking for a postdoctoral fellow

We are looking for a postdoctoral fellow with either a background in bioinformatics or the right wet lab skills. Two years of funding is available. Check out the vacancy here. The official application process has opened via the University of Amsterdam website.

30 May, 2016


Petri net paper published

Our collaboration with Annika Jacobsen and other colleagues at the VU has resulted in a paper describing the first Petri net to model Wnt signaling. Previously available as a pre-print on bioRxiv, the study has now been published in Plos One.
Nika is second author on the paper, Renée shares senior authorship with Anton Feenstra and Jaap Heringa.

25 May, 2016


Winner BAD award 2016

Katrin and Renée travelled to The Hague for the BAD award competition. Together with artists/designers Lilian and Roos they were interviewed by a stern-looking jury. Lilian and Roos did a great job pitching their proposal "Dynamorphosis - The beauty of inner mechanisms" and together we managed to defend the proposal quite well.
The three winners of the 2016 BAD awards were announced the same afternoon, after all of the finalists again pitched their proposal in a public ceremony... and we are beyond excited that Lilian and Roos won 25.000 euros to bring the project to fruition! We are super happy that the jury also recognised the beauty and promise of their work and we are very much looking forward to collaborating in the next few months.

20 May, 2016


8th annual ENBDC workshop

Renée was the organizer and chair of the 8th annual ENBDC methods workshop on mammary gland development and breast cancer, which took place in Weggis from 12-14 May. Anoeska chaired the PhD and postdoc session (together with Bethan Lloyd-Lewis from Cambridge) and Amber, Anoeska, Katrin and Nika did a great job presenting their posters. Thanks also to the travel fellowship from the GNGH ("Genootschap ter bevordering van Natuur-, Genees- en Heelkunde") that was awarded to Anoeska earlier this year.



We can look back on a successful, interactive and inspiring meeting - even if the weather was not really cooperating - and we hope to be back in Weggis next year. The 9th edition of the Weggis workshop (9-11 March 2017), will be chaired by Richard Iggo (Bordeaux), with Katrin chairing the PhD and postdoc session (together with Romain Amante from Basel).

16 May, 2016


Fame Lab update

Earlier this year, Renée chaired the jury of the local Amsterdam heat of the Fame Lab competition. Last week, Ben Vercnocke, one of "our" two national finalists, managed to win the Dutch Fame Lab competition. He will now move on to the international finals.

27 April, 2016


Column in Amsterdam Science

Read Renée’s column "Flexibility" on the "flexwet" in the third issue of the Amsterdam Science magazine.

22 April, 2016


Katrin Wiese, PhD

Katrin successfully defended her PhD thesis in Germany. The rest of the lab could not make it to Würzburg, but we were with her in spirit. We cannot wait to welcome her back as a ‘real’ postdoc (those are Katrin’s words, not ours)!

19 April, 2016


Pre-print publication on bioRxiv

We are happy to announce that our very first pre-print publication is now up on bioRxiv . This study, which is a collaboration with colleagues at the VU, describes the construction and experimental validation of a Petrinet model for Wnt signaling.

24 March, 2016


BAD award 2016: We have a match!

Two weeks ago, Katrin and Renée went to The Hague for the BAD award match-making event. We met a lot of artists who inspired and dazzled us with their unique questions and creative approaches, but we were especially happy to be matched with Lilian van Daal and Roos Meerman.
On Thursday afternoon Lilian and Roos visited the lab to exchange ideas. It was great to have them over and to share our passion for the dynamic processes that underlie tissue development and maintenance. We are very much looking forward to collaborating with these amazing designers.

24 March, 2016


Regional heat of the Famelab competition

Renée chaired the jury of the regional heat of the Famelab competition. Together with science communication expert Marieke Hohnen and last year’s finalist Encarna Mico Amigo, she had the difficult task of deciding which two contestants would move on to the national finals. All of this took place during an entertaining, informative and fun afternoon at Spui 25.
Twenty-one scientists delivered their three-minute pitch, combining a solid scientific message with storytelling skills and, in some cases, the inventive use of props (all in line with the international Famelab rulebook, which states that you can use "whatever you can carry on stage" as a prop). It was not easy to pick the top two (really!), but after careful deliberation Jurn Heinen and Bert Verknocke were announced as winners. All the best to them in the remainder of the competition!

26 February, 2016


Piece in de Volkskrant about CRISPR/Cas9

Earlier this year we were approached by Volkskrant reporter Maarten Keulemans, who was exploring the widespread use of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology throughout the Netherlands. The piece, featuring Anoeska and Renée, is published in today’s Saturday newspaper. Read it here via Blendle.

13 February, 2016


Welcome students lab dinner

Last week Tanne started her BSc internship in the group. With Francesca, Jelte and Lotte well on their way, it was time for an official "welcome students" lab getogether.
Katrin again hosted dinner at her place, featuring a mix of gimlets, Nika’s pumpkin soup, signature freestyle salads and wraps. Thanks to Francesca, dessert featured a genuine Italian tiramisu.

10 February, 2016


BAD award special in Eindhoven

Renée was invited by Isaac Monté to join in a science panel at the MU art gallery in Eindhoven as part of a two-day BAD award special event. Isaac also launched the book detailing the making of his awesome exhibit "The Art of Deception".
The afternoon and evening were filled with an interesting line up of bioartists, and we had lively discussions about everything ranging from xenotransplantation to pheromones.

23 January, 2016


Marie Curie Fellowship awarded to Katrin

We were super excited to hear that Katrin’s proposal for a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship has been awarded funding by the EU. This means there are many more exciting Wnt discoveries to come! To celebrate, we all had lunch at De Polder.

22 January, 2016


Registration for the 2016 ENBDC Methods workshop is open

The program for the upcoming ENBDC workshop in Weggis, focusing on methods in mammary gland biology and breast cancer, has been finalized. Registration and abstract submission are now also open.
We have a nice list of invited speakers. The rest of the program is up to the mammary gland and breast cancer community, so send in your abstracts via the ENBDC website. Please note that the deadline for registration and abstract submission is 7 February 2016. All other information (including payment info) can also be found on the site. The ENBDC looks forward to seeing you in Weggis!

5 January, 2016


New student

A fourth student has joined the lab for an internship. Jelte is in the UVA Biomedical Sciences program (Oncology track) and will be working in the lab for his first MSc internship under the supervision of Katrin.

4 January, 2016


KWF grant proposal funded

Just before Christmas we heard that our grant proposal, submitted for the "Unieke Kansen 2015" call of the Dutch Cancer Society, got funded by Alpe d’Huzes/KWF kankerbestrijding.

23 December, 2015


Program of the 2016 workshop on mammary gland biology

We are happy to announce the preliminary program of the upcoming ENBDC meeting, which will be held in Weggis from 12-14 May 2016. Although we are still in the process of confirming the final speakers, a draft of the meeting program can already be found here on the ENBDC website.
Abstract submission opens up in January!

18 December, 2015


New hybridisation oven

Thanks to a small-equipment grant awarded by the Nijbakker-Morra stichting we were able to buy a hybridisation oven for our RNA in situ studies. Nika has already been putting it to the test and has collected some beautiful (and interesting!) results.

18 December, 2015


Beta Break Quiz

Renée asked questions about human genome editing (CRISPR/Cas9), three parent babies (UK approved!) and regenerating reindeer antlers (yes, they have Wnts too) during the annual Beta Break Quiz, which also featured questions from the other FNWI disciplines, including physics and chemistry.

9 December, 2015


New students

Three new students have joined the lab. Tanne started volunteering in preparation for her BSc internship, which officially starts in February. Francesca and Lotte are both in the Cell Biology and Advanced Microscopy track of the UvA Biomedical Sciences program. They have joined the lab for their first MSc internship.
Welcome!

1 December, 2015


Bio Art and Design Award exhibition in Eindhoven

On Friday evening we went to Eindhoven to witness the official opening of the "body of matter" exhibition in the MU art galleries. Too bad it was already dark outside, because the area surrounding the old Philips Natuurkundig Laboratorium looks like an inspiring urban development area.

We got to see many of the 2015 BAD award artists again. There was a preview of the intruiging (systems biology inspired) "Human Simulation" performance by Orion Maxted, as well as the elegant "human tissue vase artefact" designed by Hongjie Yang. But we were especially pleased to finally see the hearts of Isaac Monté on display in his beautifully crafted "Art of Deception".

28 November, 2015


Presentatie Wetenschapsagenda

Good to see that some of the basic questions we concern ourselves with on a daily basis made it to the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda.

27 November, 2015


Enlighten the dark: Museumn8 @NEMO Science Center

The annual "museumnacht", during which Amsterdam’s museums open their doors way beyond midnight was held this weekend. Together with colleagues from Leiden, the VU and BioArt laboratories in Eindhoven, we lit up the dark theater at the NEMO Science Center.

The official start of the museumnacht at 7 pm included a beautiful performance by the Dutch National Ballet, spanning three floors of the Science Center. After catching a glimpse of this performance, we put on our lab coats and retreated into the dark where we entertained a steady flow of visitors until well beyond midnight.



Few were brave enough to drink the bright fluorescent beverage we served in test tubes, but many visitors created glow in the dark art or turned their own smartphone into a portable blacklight. Most importantly, we talked about fluorescent proteins, stem cells and the wonders of basic biomedical research. Visitors got to see fluorescence in action up close behind our microscope and many were impressed with the intricate beauty of the cytoskeleton and the cell nucleus that contains such an incredible amount of DNA.

They all thought we had an awesome job doing such cool research and we have to agree.

8 November, 2015


Spotify playlists

We have generated a #happyplace Spotify playlist with songs to get you through the highs (okay, and lows) of a PhD. Listen to it here.

After that, it was only fair that we generated one for those on the #tenuretrack as well.

6 November, 2015


Museumn8

Aanstaande zaterdag staan wij met een enthousiaste delegatie van onze vakgroep (inclusief onze hoogleraar, Dorus Gadella) in het NEMO science center tijdens de museumnacht. Kom langs en dompel je helemaal onder in het thema . Wij zijn er klaar voor en hebben onder andere alle tools die je nodig hebt om je eigen smartphone om te toveren in een portable blacklight!

5 November, 2015


Guest editing a special edition of Cancers

Together with prof.dr. Walter Birchmeier (Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany) Renée is guest editing a special edition of the open access journal Cancers. The special issue will focus on "Wnt signalling and cancer" and we are now inviting interested researchers to contribute (suggestions for) a review or primary research paper.
All manuscripts will be peer reviewed.
The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2016.

For more information, please click here to visit the journal website.

15 October, 2015


Frontiers in Medical Biology course

This year, Renée is coordinating and teaching the novel third year course "Frontiers in Medical Biology" for the first time. As part of this course, the biomedical science students had to complete two communication assignments. They wrote a blogpost, in which they had to link one of the great societal challenges of the 21st century (e.g. cancer, aging and nutrition) to the underlying, basic science. In addition, they shot web videos, in which they had to explain a basic scientific concept to a large audience.

For both of these assignments, students used the questions asked by the general public as part of the "Nationale Wetenschapsagenda" for inspiration, because as it turns out, scientists have a lot of knowledge that the general public simply is not aware of. We hope that these blogposts and web videos show that science is vital, because our UK colleagues are not the only ones in dire need of more funding for (basic) scientific research.

You can read the blogs here and visit our You Tube channel to watch the videos.

9 October, 2015


U-meet 2015: Zicht op licht

You can now read a really nice summary of our evening at SPUI 25 on the VSNU website.


(image taken from the VSNU website)

We are very happy to hear that people enjoyed the diverse evening of scientific talks. And of course we are especially pleased that the audience was intrigued by our own work and that we were able to share the story of GFP (and some restriction enzymes thrown in during the discussion) as an example of how important basic research is for scientific progress.

6 October, 2015


A fluorescent day

Today we were paid a visit by 2014 Nobel Laureate Wiliam Moerner (Stanford University) who gave a dazzling overview of his work on super resolution microscopy (or SMACM, as he prefers to call it - and so do those of us who are still frequently confused by the likes of PALM, STOM and SIM), ranging from the earliest discovery of a blinking fluorescent protein to his impressive recent work where he is bringing the whole super resolution business into the realm of 3D. That obviously excited us beyond belief.

In the evening, Renée also talked about fluorescent proteins at SPUI 25. Here, an enthusiastic and inquisitive audience was treated not only to the history of GFP with a bit of DNA cloning thrown in for good measure, but (thanks to the other speakers), also to a story on the chemistry underlying the decay of paintings and other art objects, as well as to a story on the different ways in which the media portrays dark skinned celebrities.

29 September, 2015


Announcement: Renée at SPUI25

On the 29th of September, the University of Amsterdam organizes an evening at SPUI25 with the theme "light". The evening is part of the annual U-meet series organised by the VSNU, just prior to the "Weekend van de Wetenschap" (3-4 October 2015). Renée will talk about how she uses light in her research to uncover the secrets of stem cells, but she is especially excited to share the stage with two other UvA researchers from completely different disciplines, who will talk about old paintings and American moviestars. You have never seen light from so many different angles in one evening!

28 September, 2015


Final presentation Saskia

Saskia gave her final talk, wrapping up her internship in which she combined CRISPR/Cas9 editing and functional imaging using advanced microscopy.

We already miss all of our students of the 2014/2015 academic year, but we are ready to welcome a new batch! Please check out our internship opportunities here.

25 September, 2015


Labouting 2015

While Renée was teaching the new course Frontiers in Medical Biology, the rest of the Molecular Cytology section went on an adventurous lab trip that included tree-climbing and zip-lining.



At night, we all had pizza in Hilversum, where we made the day of this ice cream vendor by entering his business with 20+ customers on the first of September to buy dessert. After that, we crashed a local PubQuiz, where team McDorus ultimately came in third place without the aid of Google.

2 September, 2015


Meeting report of the 2015 ENBDC workshop in Weggis

The meeting report of the 2015 ENBDC workshop in Weggis has been published in Breast Cancer Research. Lost your notes? Forgot to take them? Unable to attend? You can read a synopsis of the meeting, written by the meeting and session chairs, here.

1 September, 2015


Final presentation Bastiaan

Bastiaan gave his final talk, wrapping up his internship focused on using CRISPR technology to build novel Wnt reporters.

28 August, 2015


Final presentation Anika

Anika gave the final presentation on her second MSc internship. She is now ready to graduate!

19 August, 2015


Teaching for the academic year 2015-2016


This year we will contribute to the following courses:

September-October 2015: Frontiers in Medical Biology I
(Renée, 3rd year BSc Biomedische Wetenschappen, course coordinator)
Frontiers in Medical Biology I is a new course, developed to let students address three major health challenges of the 21st century (cancer, aging and food for health) from different angles, starting with a solid foundation in developmental biology.

November-December 2015: Frontiers in Medical Biology II
(Rene, 3rd year BSc Biomedische Wetenschappen, supervising research proposal writing)
Frontiers in Medical Biology II follows Frontiers in Medical Biology I.
October 2015: Biomedical Systems Biology
(Renée, 1st year MSc Biomedical Sciences)
Lecture: "the eternal life of stem cells: models for their role in health and disease

October 2015: Advanced Microscopy
(Anoeska, Nika 1st year MSc Biomedical Sciences, supervising small wet lab project)

October 2015: Clinical Cell Biology
tbd

November-December 2015: Genetica en Evolutie
(Nika, 1st year BSc Psychobiologie, supervising biology practical)

February 2016: Molecular Systems Biology
(Renée, 2nd year BSc Biomedische Wetenschappen, honours program)
Lecture: "stem cells and cancer development"

February 2016: Highlight college
(Renée, 1st year BSc Biomedische wetenschappen)
Lecture: "muismodellen in stamcel- en kankeronderzoek")

February/March/April 2016: Current Issues in Developmental Biology
(Renée, 1st and 2nd year MSc Biomedical Sciences, course coordinator)
Running for the second year, Current Issues in Developmental Biology is aimed at training students in the critical reading and presenting of the recent literature in the area of developmental biology. Students do most of the work in their own time. We meet once weekly for a supervised literature discussion (most likely in the evenings).

March 2016: Cellulaire Oncologie
(Renée, 2nd year BSc Biomedische wetenschappen, supervising study group)

17 August, 2015


Pimp 2016 with a beautiful scientific calendar

The calendar "Visions and Images of Fascination 2016", an initiative of the German "Young Academy" is now available for purchase. We contributed an image, so make this your first (albeit a slightly early) New Year’s resolution for 2016 and order it online.

28 July, 2015


Goodbye Vivienne

Today we officially said goodbye to Vivienne over drinks and dinner at the polder. As an eternal reminder, we have named our new 293T Supertopflash reporter cell line in her honor, although officially we will aways claim that 293T-WOO stands for Wnt On/Off.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in Amsterdam, allowing us to sit outside as we evaluated the organization of our labmeeting and journal club. Luckily, there was also time for more important things, including an epic battle between Vivienne and Bastiaan in which Vivienne’s ninja hair came out as pretty much unbreakable.
Her fellow students gave her a personalized timer. That should come in handy the next few years: Vivienne will wrap up her final report and leave for the US, where she will work as a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati.

Good luck with everything, Vivienne!

10 July, 2015


Invited talk in Manchester

Renée flew to Manchester, where she gave a talk (hosted by dr. Rob Clarke) in the Breast Cancer Now seminar series at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. It was a lovely visit, and Renée enjoyed meeting everyone ranging from postdocs to the institute director. Plus we got some useful feedback on our work. All in all, a great day talking about science.

7 July, 2015


Mammary Stem Cell protocol book

The methods and protocols book "Mammary Stem Cells" (edited by María del Mar Vivanco) is out. It also contains a chapter by Renée on lineage tracing in the mammary gland using Cre/lox technology and fluorescent reporter alleles. Read it here, or contact us if you don’t have access.

4 July, 2015


NEMO Wakker Worden Kinderlezing

Renée got op early to give the Sunday morning kids lecture at the NEMO Science Museum.
Together with 23 bright and inquisitive boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 12, she investigated how sunscreen works. Along the way, she talked about UV rays, the ozon layer, melanocytes and DNA. Thanks to the help of Wolter Mooij (VUmc), everybody got a chance to take a live look through the microscope at pigmented cells in the skin. There were also hands on experiments involving tonic and a spinning color wheel.
Never a dull moment at the NEMO Wakker Worden Kinderlezing, back in the fall for another season.

28 June, 2015


Lab dinner

Anika, Bastiaan, Saskia and Vivienne will all be finishing their internships within the next two months. We kicked off the summer with dinner at Katrin’s place to say goodbye to all of them. A lovely evening, thanks first of all to the company, but helped by a shared interest in 24Kitchen and some pretty impressive cooking skills. Recipes for our Hot Pink Quinoa salad and Nika’s and Katrin’s version of Pimm’s Cup are available upon request.

26 June, 2015


Poster prize

Katrin and Nika won the poster prize at the annual SILS research day. Congratulations!
The day, organised by the PhD and postdoc council, also featured short talks by PhD students, postdocs and PIs. In addition we got to listen to some really cool talks by outside speakers from Wageningen and Oxford, who spoke on topics ranging from the stem cell niche in plants to early hemopoiesis and specification of cardiomyocytes.

25 June, 2015


Lab picture

Renée is giving a talk at the SILS research day tomorrow. Time for a new lab picture on the rooftop balcony.

24 June, 2015


Meet the neighbors

Today we visited the Zuidas (the stretch of Amsterdam surrounding the A10 freeway, which ranges from the Amstel river in the east to the Amsterdamse Bos in the west and which houses the VU campus and virtually all of the citiy’s skyscrapers with more to come). Here we met with UvA, VU and VUmc researchers (and future colleagues) to discuss the life sciences research we are going to bring to the (now still empty) O|2 building.

19 June, 2015


Nationale Wetenschapsgenda: Science for Science conference

(in Dutch, English follows below)
door Renée
Honderden wetenschappers maakten vandaag ruimte in hun overvolle agenda om samen te komen in de Fokker Terminal in Den Haag, waar de eerste conferentie plaatsvond om de Nationale Wetenschapsagenda nader vorm te geven. Beatrice de Graaf deed een appèl aan de aanwezigen om samen de toekomst van de wetenschap te bepalen en een sterk geluid te laten horen aan Den Haag. Vervolgens werden de overgebleven 250 vragen in een reeks parallelle workshops uitvoerig tegen het licht gehouden en vanuit verschillende invalshoeken bekeken (eerst binnen de disciplines en vervolgens gebiedsoverschrijdend). Ze werden daarbij beoordeeld op hun eigen merites, maar ook op een eventueel mogelijke clustering en thematische samenhang met andere vragen.
Een terugkerend thema binnen de verschillende wetenschapsgebieden was de noodzaak om het belang van de zoektocht naar fundamentele kennis en een sterke basis van de bestaande wetenschappelijke disciplines expliciet te benoemen in de uiteindelijke agenda.
Na de lunch sprak de staatssecretaris van Onderwijs, Sander Dekker, de zaal toe. Zijn optreden liet bij velen een wat bittere nasmaak na en het leek of hij de verkeerde (of een oude) speech uit de kast had gepakt. Zo deed hij een oproep aan de aanwezigen om eindelijk eens de ivoren toren te verlaten en niet alleen maar met onderzoekspublicaties in onbegrijpelijk jargon bezig te zijn (alsof de aanwezige wetenschappers nog nooit van valorisatie gehoord hadden) en sloot hij af met de opsteker dat we vooral meer moeten gaan doen met hetzelfde geld. Zo reduceerde hij de nationale wetenschapsagenda in één klap tot een simpele vraag: "How do we get more money for science?"

English:
by Renée
Hundreds of Dutch scientists gathered in The Hague to help draft the National Science Agenda, linking societal challenges to fundamental scientific questions. What promised to be the start of a movement akin to the UK’s Science is Vital campaign, quickly lost some of its shine when the motivational speech of Sander Dekker, the state secretary for science and education, turned out to be best summarised as "you have to do better with the same amount of money". Clearly, Dutch science isn’t so much in need of better questions as it is in need of more advocates. Count me in.

16 June, 2015


Nationale Wetenschapsagenda

One of the questions Renée submitted to the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda appears to have made it to the final selection of 248 core questions. Quite literally, in fact. L32. Sweet!

9 June, 2015


Homecoming day

The annual "Universiteitsdag", during which the University of Amsterdam welcomes back its alumni, was held today. Together with Jan van Maarseveen (chemistry), Stanley Brul (biology), Paolo Grosso (computer science) and Mark Golden (physics), Renée quizzed an enthusiastic (and quite knowledgeable) audience during the BetaQuiz. The quiz was organised by FNWI’s BetaBreak students and topics ranged from stem cells to data routing and from photosynthesis to Schrödinger’s cat. The afternoon was concluded with a plenary session chaired by Rik van de Westelaken, during which the prizes for best MSc theses were handed out. After that, the evening was brought to a close with a lovely walking dinner and interesting conversations at the Maagdenhuis.

6 June, 2015


Mirror mirror...

Amber and Renée visited the Netherlands Cancer Institute to image some lineage tracing samples on a Leica TCS SP8 DLS system. As the Dutch saying goes, "alle begin is moeilijk": we have no pretty pictures to show for it (yet), but we had a valuable first encounter with the finicky details of sample preparation.

5 June, 2015


Calendar: Wakker Worden Kinderlezing

For those of you that understand Dutch, are in Amsterdam on Sunday 28 June and have (or can arrange to bring) a kid between the ages of 8 and 12: Renée will give a lecture (aimed at the younger audience segment) at the NEMO science museum as part of the "Wakker Worden" ("wake up") lecture series. The topic (very appropriately, with the summer holidays approaching) is "Hoe werkt zonnebrand?" ("how does sunscreen work"). There will be two lectures, one at 11 am and one at 1 pm. Get your tickets here.

31 May, 2015


Cake

Cake to celebrate that the O2 building has been delivered. The lab is tentatively scheduled to move to the Zuidas campus in the spring of 2016.

29 May, 2015


Lab dinner

We went out for dinner at The Seafood Bar, where Bastiaan took the lead in making sure we enjoyed a nice selection from the menu, including some oysters and a fabulous lemon pie.

22 May, 2015


BCF career event 2015

Renée took part in a panel discussion "Academia versus Industry" at the 2015 BCF career event. There were lots of questions from the audience and hopefully our answers have been of some use to all of the MSc students, PhD candidates and postdocs facing tough and/or exciting (!) career decisions.
More questions? Ask them on Twitter @wntlab!

21 May, 2015


Nationale Wetenschapsagenda

A while ago, the Dutch government launched The Dutch Science Agenda (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda). All citizens get a say in determining the agenda, which according to the official website, is ultimately meant to "deploy resources and energy in a more targeted manner with greater consideration for scientific strengths, societal challenges and economic opportunities".

One could wonder whether it is indeed the best idea to let everyone have a say in determining a country’s entire scientific agenda (looking at some of the submitted questions one might conclude that the answer to that question is "no"). One could also wonder whether the Dutch government is making such a smart move in increasingly steering scientific research in the Netherlands, thereby essentially limiting the scientific freedom that is so crucial in the basic sciences for novel and unexpected discoveries. One could even see evidence for the endangerment of basic scientific research on the government website, which states that the Science Agenda is an opportunity to "give a boost to the collaboration between scientists, industry and civil society organisations" (i.e. applied research).

In either case, as citizens and scientists we took this opportunity to also have a say by submitting questions on the Wetenschapsagenda website. So here are our 10 questions for the Dutch Science Agenda. Not coincidentally, these questions relate to our own work. Because we indeed believe that our basic scientific research is important enough to put on the national agenda. And yes, Wnt signalling is relevant for each of these questions. But of course we wouldn’t know this if it hadn’t been for basic scientific research on the development of fruit flies...

1. How does a fertilized egg develop into a complex organism with multiple specialized celltypes?

2. How do stem cells take care of maintaining our tissues and organs?

3. How are stem cell division and stem cell differentiation controlled?

4. How plastic is cell identity?

5. How does breast cancer arise and how can breast cancer exist in so many different subtypes?

6. How can the link between sex hormones and breast cancer be explained?

7. Which communication routes inside the cell form a target for cancer treatment?

8. How do cells communicate with each other?

9. How are cells able to integrate multiple signals from their surroundings into a single, clear, biological response?

10. Can we visualize biological communication events at the molecular level inside living cells?

30 April, 2015


ENBDC meeting 2015

The annual ENBDC meeting in Weggis was a succes from start to finish, beginning with a Keynote talk by Christine Watson (@MAD_Cambs) and ending with a talk (and ensuing discussion) on stem cell transplantation assays by Matt Smalley (@ECSCRI).

Our personal highlights:
- Anoeska presented a poster and gave a talk on CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing.
-The ENBDC is now on Twitter. So follow us @enbdc.
- Renée was elected as the chair for next year’s meeting (held from May 12 - May 14 in 2016).
- The 2016 meeting will also have a session chaired by PhDs and/or postdocs and the ENBDC committee is happy to announce that Bethan Lloyd-Lewis (@MAD_Cambs) and Anoeska van de Moosdijk (@wntlab) volunteered to organize and chair this session.

25 April, 2015


Dutch stem cell meeting

Part of the lab attended the annual meeting of the Dutch Society for Stem Cell Research, which was held at the University Medical Center in Utrecht.

24 April, 2015


Did you know...

... that we are on Twitter? Find and follow us @wntlab.

20 April, 2015


ENBDC meeting 2015

Anoeska’s abstract for the 2015 ENBDC meeting in Weggis was selected for a talk and a poster.

16 April, 2015


Frontiers in Medical Biology

Renée introduced the new track Frontiers in Medical Biology during the annual "voorlichting" for 2nd year BSc students. Sign up soon to join us in September-December 2015 if you are interested in taking a multidisciplinary approach to thinking about (and actively working on!) the scientific and technological challenges facing our society in the 21st century, focusing on Cancer, Aging and Nutrition.

13 April, 2015


Official launch of the Amsterdam Science Magazine

Today the first edition of the Amsterdam Science Magazine (for which Renée is an editorial board member) was presented to the dean during the 15th dies natalis celebration of the FNWI.

A first issue is always special, but this one even more so: the cover features work from the section of Molecular Cytology. It shows a developing Nematostella embryo, labeled with mTurquoise2. This work (from Marten Postma and colleagues) is also featured inside the magazine. The issue also contains a piece by Renée on the Nobel prize winning work of Jacob and Monod. In short, a must read and collector’s item! You can also read the magazine online at http://www.amsterdamscience.org.

26 March, 2015


Bio Art and Design Award - update

We have a match! Today "our" designer/artist, Hongjie Yang, paid a visit to the lab for a first brainstorm session. The massive pipetting session in the lab was not staged for the occasion, everybody was actually working that hard!

25 March, 2015


25 years

We all gathered in De Polder to celebrate the fact that the head of our section, Dorus Gadella, has been in academia for 25 years. Renée had to leave early to teach an evening class, but there she got to talk about somatic cell nuclear transfer and supercentenarians, which was cool too.

24 March, 2015


Scientific Calendar

Today Renée saw the proofs of a beautiful scientific calendar ("Calendar of Science 2016: Visions and Images of Fascination"), for which she contributed a picture that is tentatively brightening August 2016. The calendar is an initiative of the German "Young Academy" (die Junge Akademie).

18 March, 2015


Equipment Award

We are very happy that the Nijbakker-Morra Stichting has decided to award our small equipment request. This brings us one step closer to capturing the dynamic Wnt-signaling events in the mammary epithelium.

17 March, 2015


Bio Art and Design Award

Earlier this year, Renée was invited to take part in the Bio Art and Design Award competition for artists and designers, in which young and upcoming (bio)artists are matched with scientists to create a piece of work that "highlights and explores exciting new intersections among design, artistic practice and the life sciences".
Today, Anoeska and Renée went to ZonMW in Den Haag for the speed dating and matchmaking event. Whatever the outcome (we do hope there was a match), it was inspirational to spend an afternoon talking to artists from all over the world, both in person and over Skype.

13 March, 2015


Spring

We had lunch outside for the first time in 2015.
Do not worry, we spent the rest of the day behind the computer (giving feedback on student essays, writing abstracts, troubleshooting looping scripts), the microscope (imaging organoids) and the bench (cloning, qPCR, you name it).

12 March, 2015


Bachelorvoorlichting

Renée gave a talk ("mini college") at the "bachelorvoorlichting" (information day for high school students) on basic stem cell and cancer research.

7 March, 2015


The dress

Never a dull moment:
Today we found out that two of us actually think the dress is white-and-gold.

6 March, 2015


Interview with Renée in Het Parool

The Saturday edition of the newspaper Het Parool featured a short interview with Renée.
Read it on Blendle.

21 February, 2015


Experiment of the week

Officially we had the cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of Linda, but we secretly also enjoyed them to celebrate some exciting progress and success on the CRISPR projects.

19 February, 2015


Sushi with the group

To celebrate that we have reached a critical mass of eight people in the group, we went out for sushi.

12 February, 2015


Lab trip to Lage Vuursche

The whole section of Molecular Cytology travelled to Lage Vuursche to ring in the New Year. We enjoyed lunch (typical Dutch pancakes) and a brisk walk in the forest.

27 January, 2015


Lab selfie

Without a selfie stick (and with Katrin and Saskia missing), we managed to take a lab selfie in front of the gates of kasteel Drakenstein, where the former queen (Beatrix) has taken up residence.

27 January, 2015


New student

Anika has joined the lab for her second MSc internship. She will join Amber to work on the mammary organoid project. Welcome, Anika!

24 January, 2015


Welcome Katrin

Katrin has joined the lab as a postdoc. She will work on identifying and manipulating the mammary stem cell niche.

5 January, 2015


Wrapping up for Christmas

Just a few more days until we will break for Christmas. Nothing beats performing the last DNA isolations, genotyping PCRs and cell culture experiments with Kerstfeest with Bert en Ernie playing in the background. Including the all time classic ik ben een kerstbal. For the unlucky ones not in possession of physical copy: You can listen to the whole album here!

19 December, 2014


Invited talk

Renée gave a talk in Köln/Cologne (hosted by dr. Carien Niessen) during her visit to the CECAD (Cluster of Excellence in Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-associated Diseases).

8 December, 2014


Oral history of mammary gland biology

If you do not feel like watching Netflix during the upcoming Christmas break: The third interview, featuring Bob Cardiff, is now also up on the ENBDC website.

3 December, 2014


New students

Three new students have joined the lab for an internship. Vivienne has started her prolonged BSc internship. She will work on developing novel inducible genetic tools for Wnt pathway activation. Bastiaan and Saskia have started their MSc internships. Both of them will use CRISPR technology to develop novel ways of (functionally) imaging Wnt signal transduction.
The lab is now crowded, but very much alive and kicking!

2 December, 2014


New publication in Breast Cancer Research

Earlier this summer Renée wrote a viewpoint discussing the beautiful lineage tracing study by Rios and colleagues. This piece has now finally been published in Breast Cancer Research.

2 December, 2014


Oral history of mammary gland biology

The second ENBDC interview with key figures in the field of mammary gland biology and breast cancer research is now online. You can watch this conversation with Gil Smith here.

30 November, 2014


Oral history of mammary gland biology

In an effort to record (and preserve) an oral history of mammary gland development and breast cancer research, the ENBDC has taken the initiative of interviewing key figures in the field. The interviews will be posted on the ENBDC website and the first one, featuring Dr. Daniel Medina (talking to Dr. Mohamed Bentires-Alj) can now be viewed here.

9 November, 2014


KWF Tumor Cell Biology meeting 2014

Renée gave a talk at the 2014 KWF tumor cell biology meeting in Lunteren.

6 November, 2014


Publication in Cancer Research

Our review on phenotype switching in malignant melanoma is now available online at Cancer Research .

Fun fact: this work started out as a review for an MSc literature thesis. So students, if your thesis kicks ass this is what could happen! (Although to be honest, this does tend to be the exception rather than the rule...)

17 October, 2014


Welcome Nika

Nika has joined the lab as a PhD student. She will work on identifying and manipulating the mammary stem cell niche.

15 October, 2014


Wnt meeting 2016

At the Wnt meeting in Broome (Australia) it was also announced that the next Wnt meeting will be held in the Czech Republic in 2016. It will be organised by Vitezslav Bryja, Madelon Maurice, Gunnar Schulte, Bon-Kyoung Koo and Vladimir Korinek.

13 October, 2014


Wnt meeting 2014

Renée attended (and gave a talk at) the 2014 Wnt meeting in Broome, Australia. It took a bit of an effort to get there, but the sunsets, lunar eclipse and milky way were worth it. As was the science, with a personal favorite being a talk by Arial Yi Zeng , who has a really cool story coming out in Nature soon.

The picture on the left celebrates bipotent stem cell lineage tracing in the mammary gland (from left to right: Arial Zeng, Anne Rios (Visvader lab) and Renée).

12 October, 2014


Talk at Sanquin

Renée gave an invited seminar at Sanquin (hosted by dr. Carlijn Voermans) entitled "Wnt signaling, stem cells and cancer: tales from the mammary gland".

16 September, 2014


Stagemarkt

We had good traffic at our poster at the stagemarkt for MSc students in the Biomedical Sciences.

15 September, 2014


Cancer Research Review accepted

Our review article on phenotype switching in melanoma, a collaboration with former colleagues at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (Kristel Kemper, Pauline de Goeje and Daniel Peeper), has been accepted by Cancer Research.

3 September, 2014


Teaching for the academic year 2014/2015

This year we will contribute to the following courses:

September 2014: Molecular Biology of the Cell
(Renée, 1st year MSc Biomedical Sciences, supervising study groups)

October 2014: Biomedical Systems Biology
(Renée, 1st year MSc Biomedical Sciences, class "the eternal life of stem cells: models for their role in health and disease")

October 2014:
Advanced Microscopy (Anoeska, 1st year MSc Biomedical Sciences, supervising small wet lab project)

October 2014: Clinical Cell Biology
(Anoeska/Renée, 1st year MSc Biomedical Sciences, class and/or project)

November 2014:
Moleculaire Technieken (Anoeska, 2nd year BSc Biomedische Wetenschappen, supervising biology practical)

February 2015: Highlight college
(Renée, 1st year BSc Biomedische wetenschappen, class "muismodellen in stamcel- en kankeronderzoek")

February 2015: Honors module Molecular Systems Biology
(Renée, 2nd year BSc Biomedische wetenschappen, class "stem cells and cancer development")

February/March/April 2015: Current Issues in Developmental Biology (Renée, 1st and 2nd year MSc Biomedical Sciences, supervised literature discussions)

February 2015: Genregulatie
(Renée, 3rd year BSc Biomedische wetenschappen, class "reprogramming")

31 August, 2014


New publication in Breast Cancer Research

Amber and Renée are co-authors on this study, which was led by the group of John Stingl in Cambridge. The paper describes the influence of tamoxifen on normal mouse mammary gland homeostasis. So please go and check out Shehata et al.

25 July, 2014


Looking for a postdoc and PhD student

We are now recruiting a postdoc and a PhD student! Applications are accepted until August 8, 2014. Please note that you have to apply via the website of the University of Amsterdam, otherwise your application will not be processed properly. More information can be found here (vacancy 14-228) for the PhD candidate position and here (vacancy 14-227) for the postdoc position .

26 June, 2014


ENBDC Committee

At the 2014 ENBDC workshop on Methods in Mammary Gland Biology (held in Weggis, Switzerland from 8-10 May) Renée was elected as a member of the ENBDC committee.

17 June, 2014


Arte TV

Mark your calendars: The "Europortrait" featuring our lab will be broadcast on Arte TV on Saturday May 24, at 18:35 (French channel) or 17:05 (German channel) as part of "Arte Reportage".

21 May, 2014


Vidi grant

The verdict is finally out and we are beyond excited: Renée has been awarded a highly competitive VIDI grant (EUR 800K) by the national research council NWO! This grant will allow Renée to expand her research team to investigate the molecular mechanisms that control stem cell activity.

17 May, 2014


Europe of tomorrow

Renée was followed by a film crew from Arte TV for a couple of days. They shot a portrait of her life as a Dutch scientist for the Arte TV "Europortraits" series. Filming also took place outside of the lab, on the beautiful streets of Amsterdam.

2 May, 2014


Reactome pathway

A new version of the Reactome Pathway Database was released last month. Renée was an external reviewer for the part that deals with updates in the "TCF-dependent signaling in response to WNT" branch.

21 April, 2014


Invited talk

Renée gave a keynote lecture entitled "Tracking the developmental fate of Wnt-responsive mammary stem cells" at the 4th annual meeting of the Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems (AIMMS) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

10 April, 2014


New BSc student

Tessa has joined the lab for a BSc internship (18EC).
She will design novel tools to modify Wnt-pathway activity.

7 April, 2014


Anoeska has joined the lab as a PhD student

She will work on understanding and controlling the behavior of Wnt-responsive stem cells in the mammary gland. First lab selfie in our bay!

19 March, 2014


New website online

With our new lab website going online, the year is officially off to a good start.

2 January, 2014


Happy new year!

Start the year by sticking to your resolution to read more! The first 50 people clicking on this link should be able to download a PDF reprint from a chapter on the role of Ryk and Ror receptor tyrosine kinases in Wnt signalling, which Renée wrote together with Jennifer Green and Roel Nusse. It will appear in the Cold Spring Harbor monograph Signaling by Receptor Tyrosine Kinases (edited by Joseph Schlessinger and Mark Lemmon).

1 January, 2014


Amber joined the lab as a technician

Amber joined the lab as a technician. We are now officially a team! Time to start unpacking those boxes...

15 November, 2013


Renée started her job as assistant professor at the UvA

Renée started her job as assistant professor at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. She was off to a good start and gave an invited talk at the annual Trippenhuismeeting of the Dutch Society for Cell Biology.

1 November, 2013


AAA

30 November, -0001


AAA

30 November, -0001



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