Lundbeckfonden Biomedical Grant awarded to Joshua Brickman – University of Copenhagen

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08 January 2016

Lundbeckfonden Biomedical Grant awarded to Joshua Brickman

Biomedical Grant

Professor Joshua Brickman from The Danish Stem Cell Center (DanStem) at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences receives a Large Biomedical grant of DKK 8 Million from Lundbeckfonden.

Professor Brickman’s group is located at the Danish Stem Cell Center, University of Copenhagen.

The group is interested in dynamic mechanisms by which different cell types, present in both early embryos and Embryonic Stem Cell culture undergo fate decisions or transitions. As part of this work, the Brickman lab is already involved in a number of whole genome transcription factor studies design to elucidate de novo networks involved in tripping these switches. In this new ambitious study the scientists will focus on how the interactions between cells are tied into the information in these networks. This work includes a new collaboration with the NNF Centre for Protein Research.

“Thanks to the generous support from Lundbeckfonden, we will be able to embark on this exciting new programme that links the seemingly unrelated phenomena of cells touching each other to stem cell identity”, says Professor Brickman.

Pluripotent stem cells are cell lines with the remarkable ability to give rise to any adult cell type in the body. These cell lines have immense therapeutic potential for the treatment of degenerative disease, disease modeling and drug screening. They can either be derived from embryos as Embryonic Stem Cells or by the reprogramming of adult somatic cells to make induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. While it is known that the transcription factor Oct4 helps these stem cells to induce and maintain their pluripotency, it is not yet completely clear how this regulation takes place.

“This project has the potential to generate results with ground-breaking impact on the stem cell research. The project plan follows a simple logical development and deploys the latest techniques within the field. The preliminary data are already very convincing,” says Anne-Marie Engel, Lundbeckfonden’s Director of Research.

The Brickman group recently found a link between Oct4 and the regulation of cellular adhesion (find more information here). In the coming years, with the generous donation from Lundbeckfonden, they will further investigate how cell-cell adhesion inputs into the regulation of pluripotent transcription and how transcription factors involved in either self-renewal or differentiation influence the adhesion of cells to each other and to specific surfaces or substrates.