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DanStem Newsletter April 2017

An overview of 2016

During 2016 DanStem continued to expand its scientific and technical portfolio. With strategic recruitments and space expansions, the center is well set to reach its goals and milestones for 2017. DanStem currently consists of 148 staff members. 104 of these are scientists and students.  

Click on the chart to enlarge

Call for Applications: DanStem National Collaboration Initiative

DanStem initiated a call, inviting researchers and research groups at other Danish Universities and Research Institutions to apply for collaborative projects. 
The aim of the call is to strengthen and develop basic research within the stem cell and developmental biology areas in Denmark, through the establishment of genuine national collaborations, based on concrete research projects at a high scientific level. Collaborative grants of up to one million Danish Kroner per year, for up to 3 years, will be awarded to three groups. Read more about the call 

New Group Leaders have joined DanStem 

In the first quarter of 2017, Agnete Kirkeby and Jakub Sedzinski have joined DanStem. 
Agnete’s research focuses on modelling human brain development with human pluripotent stem cells, and Jakub's research focuses on determining the reciprocal interactions between mechanical forces and genetics during development, homeostasis and regeneration of tissues. With these recruitments, DanStem comprises of 11 group leaders, all address basic questions in stem cell and developmental biology. 

DanStem professor Kristian Helin was appointed Vice-Dean of Research, The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

From February 1st 2017 DanStem Professor Kristian Helin has started his new role as vice-dean of research at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Copenhagen. 

Kristian Helin will continue to work part-time as head of the very  successful research centre BRIC and will lead the Helin research group, associated with DanStem.

Will we ever be able to grow organs in a Petri dish?

In an article published online both in Videnskab.dk and in ScienceNordic.com, DanStem scientists Anne Grapin Botton and Josh Brickman are describing the current state of stem cell research and answering some interesting questions regarding possible future therapy.
Read the full articles in English, published in ScienceNordic, and in Danish, published in Videnskabe.dk. 

Towards a Safe and Scalable Cell Therapy for Type-1 Diabetes by Simplifying Beta Cell Differentiation

With the vision of providing a cell therapy for type-1 diabetes patients, scientists at DanStem have identified a unique cell surface protein present on human pancreatic precursor cells providing for the first time a molecular handle to purify the cells whose fate is to become cells of the pancreas – including insulin producing cells. The work, outlined in a landmark study entitled ‘Efficient generation of glucose-responsive beta cells from isolated GP2+ human pancreatic progenitors’ has just been published in Cell Reports and is available here.

To translate the current findings into a potential treatment of Type-1 Diabetes, Ameri and Semb aim to commercialize their recent patent pending innovations by establishing the spin out company PanCryos. PanCryos has assembled a team with experts in stem cell biology, islet transplantations, business and regulatory guidance and is currently funded by a KU POC grant and a pre-seed funding from Novo Seeds. See more information about the Ameri's project.  

The organoid revolution and DanStem's contributions

’Organoids’ are miniature three-dimensional organ-like structures made in vitro from stem cells. Our capacity to make organoids and understand them has progressed tremendously since 2009. They enable scientists to bridge the gap between cells growing on the bottom of a petri dish and organs in animals.

DanStem has made contributions to the organoid adventure since its beginning and the Grapin-Botton lab has succeeded in producing pancreas organoids in vitro from dispersed embryonic organ stem cells (Greggio 2013). 
The journal Development has recently published a special issue about the topic, where DanStem scientists Svend Dahl-Jensen and Anne Grapin-Botton contributed and provided a perspective on how to combine organoids with approaches from the field of physics. Read more

Treatment of malignant brain tumour in children gets closer

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen led by Professor Kristian Helin have identified important mechanisms underlying how a special type of malignant brain tumour arises in children. Not only do these discoveries give researchers important information about the tumour but they could also result in possible treatment. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is a terrible disease with very poor survival and before we can identify a treatment, we need to understand the mechanisms underlying the formation and growth of the tumour. We have now made a major step forward and we also have ideas for possible treatment," says Prof. Kristian Helin, Read more about this research 

Parsing the Pancreas

In a commentary, published in New England Journal of Medicine, DanStem professors Anne Grapin-Botton and Palle Serup cover recent results obtained with new single-cell RNA-Seq measurements of mouse and human pancreas cells. Read more 


Tracking Down the Transcriptome of Pancreatic Cells
(click on the image to enlarge)

List of publications

Ameri, Jacqueline, Rehannah Borup, Christy Prawiro, Cyrille Ramond, Karen A. Schachter, Raphael Scharfmann & Henrik Semb (2017). Efficient generation of glucose-responsive beta cells from isolated GP2+ human pancreatic progenitors. Cell Reports, doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.03.032.

Dahl-Jensen, Svend & Anne Grapin-Botton (2017). The physics of organoids: a biophysical approach to understanding organogenesis. Development,144, 946-951, doi: 10.1242/dev.143693. 

Martin, David & Anne Grapin-Botton (2017). The Importance of REST for Development and Function of Beta Cells. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 5(12), doi:10.3389/fcell.2017.00012.

Grapin-Botton, Anne & Palle Serup (2017). Parsing the Pancreas. The New England Journal of Medicine, 376(9), 886-888, doi:10.1056/NEJMcibr1616217.

Horn, Signe, et al. (2017). Research Resource: A Dual Proteomic Approach Identifies Regulated Islet Proteins During β-Celll Mass Expansion In Vivo. Mol Endocrinol, 30(1), 133-143, doi:10.1210/me.2015-1208.

Ben-Othman, Nouha, et al (2017). Long-Term GABA Administration Induces Alpha Cell-Mediated Beta-like Cell Neogenesis. Cell, 168(1-2), 73-85, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.002.

Mohammad, Faizaan, Simon Weissmann, Benjamin Leblanc, Deo P. Pandey, Jonas W. Højfeldt,  Itys Comet, Chunqin Zheng, Jens Vilstrup Johansen, Nicolas Rapin, Bo T. Porse, Andrey Tvardovskiy, Ole N. Jensen, Nagore G. Olaciregui, Cinzia Lavarino, Mariona Suñol, Carmen de Torres, Jaume Mora, Angel M. Carcaboso & Kristian Helin (2017). EZH2 is a potential therapeutic target for H3K27M-mutant pediatric gliomas. Nature Medicine, 1-12, doi:10.1038/nm.4293. 

Lonowski, Lindsey A., at al. (2017). Genome editing using FACS enrichment of nuclease-expressing cells and indel detection by amplicon analysis. Nature Protocols, 12(3), 581-603, doi:10.1038/nprot.2016.165.

Migueles, Rosa Portero, Louise Shaw, Neil P. Rodrigues, Gillian May, Korinna Henseleit, Kathryn G. V. Anderson, Hakan Goker, C. Michael Jones, Marella F.T.R. de Bruijn, Joshua M. Brickman & Tariq Enver (2017). Transcriptional Regulation of Hhex in Hematopoiesis and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Ontogeny. Developmental Biology,1-29, doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.12.021.

Jafari, Abbas, et. al. (2017). Legumain Regulates Differentiation Fate of Human Bone Marrow Stromal Cells and Is Altered in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis. Stem Cell Reports, 8, 1-14, doi:10.1016/j.stemcr.2017.01.003.

Larsen, Hjalte List & Anne Grapin-Botton (2017). The molecular and morphogenetic basis of pancreas organogenesis. Semin Cell Dev Biol, 1-18, doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.01.005.

Hamilton, William B. & Joshua M. Brickman (2017). Surveillance for Secure Differentiation. Cell Stem Cell, 20(1), 3-5, doi:10.1016/j.stem.2016.12.011.

Hopkinson, Branden M., Marie C. Klitgaard, Ole William Petersen, René Villadsen, Lone Rønnov-Jessen & Jiyoung Kim (2017). Establishment of a normal-derived estrogen receptor-positive cell line comparable to the prevailing human breast cancer subtype. Oncotarget,1-14, doi:10.18632/oncotarget.14554.

Sørensen, Karen, et. al. (2017). Upregulation of Mrps18a in breast cancer identified by selecting phage antibody libraries on breast tissue sections. BMC Cancer, 17(1):19, 1-11, doi:10.1186/s12885-016-2987-5. 

Abdallah, Basem M., et al (2016). CRMP4 Inhibits Bone Formation by Negatively Regulating BMP and RhoA Signaling. Journal of Bone Mineral Research, 1-31,doi:10.1002/jbmr.3069

Stunnenberg, Henrik G., The International Human Epigenome Consortium, Martin Hirst (2016). The International Human Epigenome Consortium: A Blueprint for Scientific Collaboration and Discovery. Cell, 167(5), 1145-1149, doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.007. 

Laugesen, Anne, Jonas Westergaard Højfeldt & Kristian Helin (2016). Role of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) in Transcriptional Regulation and CancerCold Spring Harb Perspect Med, doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a026575.

Brickman, Joshua M. & Palle Serup (2016). Properties of embryoid bodies. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol, doi:10.1002/wdev.259.

Berclaz, Corinne, et al (2016). Label-free fast 3D coherent imaging reveals pancreatic islet micro-vascularization and dynamic blood flow. Biomed Opt Express, 7(11), 4569-4580, doi:10.1364/boe.7.004569

Cooper, Sarah, et. al. (2016). Jarid2 binds mono-ubiquitylated H2A lysine 119 to mediate crosstalk between Polycomb complexes PRC1 and PRC2. Nature Communications, 1-8, doi:10.1038/ncomms13661.

Morsing, Mikkel, Marie Christine Klitgaard, Abbas Jafari, René Villadsen, Moustapha Kassem, Ole William Petersen & Lone Rønnov-Jessen (2016). Evidence of two distinct functionally specialized fibroblast lineages in breast stroma. Breast Cancer Research, 18:108, 1-11, doi:10.1186/s13058-016-0769-2

Advanced postdoctoral fellowship to Nina Funa from the Serup Group

Postdoc Nina Funa from the Serup group has received a three-year advanced postdoctoral fellowship from JDRF for her project “Identification of signaling pathways controlling expansion of human pancreatic progenitor cells”. Read more.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship to Charlotte Bailey from the Ober group

Postdoc Charlotte Bailey from the Ober group has received the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship for her project, LIVERZAP. The project aims to generate a detailed map of the different cell behaviors driving restoration of liver architecture, by pioneering real-time, in vivo imaging of regeneration in zebrafish. Find out more about the project

Candidates visit the center for the BioScience PhD programme

A group of 40 students from around the world came to Copenhagen for the Bioscience PhD introduction and interview days, March 20-22, 2017, where 16 selected students will be offered a four year PhD position in one of the NNF centers.
The students have had three busy days visiting the centers, (three located at UCPH and one at DTU), and heard about the opportunities offered by this exclusive PhD programme.
The selected students will join the first round of the Bioscience students, who started their Pre-Doc year in 2016.  

PhD graduations 

Simon Weissmann from the Helin group was awarded a PhD degree, defending his dissertation with the title: Investigation of chromatin regulators as drivers of gliomagenesis and potential drug targets. The Assessment Committee comprised of: (Chairperson) Klaus Hansen, BRIC 
Alexander Pietras, Translational Cancer Research, Lund University, Sweden and
Chris Jones, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK.  

Fabian Roske from the Brickman group was awarded a PhD degree defending his dissertation with the title: Dissecting the role of LIF in embryonic stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. The Assessment Committee comprised of: (Chairperson) Professor Kristian Helin BRIC, University of: Copenhagen, Dr. Jennifer Nichols University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, Professor Heiko Lickert Helmholtz Zentrum München, Germany.

Maja Borup Kjær Petersen from the Grapin-Botton group was awarded a PhD degree defending her dissertation with the title: Single-cell analysis of hESC-derived pancreatic endocrine progenitors. The Assessment Committee comprised of: (Chairperson) Professor Palle Serup, The Danish Stem Cell Center (DanStem), University of Copenhagen, Dr. Gérard Gradwohl, IGBMC (Institut de Génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire), France and Christian Clausen, Chief Scientific Officer, Advanced Technological Institute, Bioneer A/S, Denmark. 

DanStem Scientists at Science & Cocktails

Science & Cocktails is an outreach initiative that brings science and entertainment closer together, where public free lectures intertwined with music/art performances and smoky dry-ice chilled cocktails in hand.

On March 28, 2017 20:00, in Byens Lys, Christiania, Professors Anne Grapin-Botton and Josh Brickman gave a lecture on "stem cells and their awareness of future self, what do they need in order to make bodies and organs in a dish?" In this informal environment of Science & Cocktails Anne and Josh introduced stem cell research and interacted with a unique and curious crowd. Read more 

The Stem Cell Day 2017

For the third time this year, DanStem followed the new tradition and held a Stem Cell Day where scientists devote a full day to outreach and dissemination of stem cell research.
For this event a group of researchers planned hands-on and fun educational activities to make all possible efforts to explain stem cells research, creating a unique experience. Read more 

Click to view the video from the day

"Inspiration day" for teachers – One Day Workshop at DanStem

On February 2, 2017 DanStem hosted the workshop ‘How to make an organ?’ to inspire high school teachers in their efforts to teach stem cell and developmental biology.
DanStem scientists Mette Jørgensen, Svend Dahl-Jensen and Simone Wenkel prepared hands-on activities that evolved around key processes in embryonic development. All participants had the opportunity to dissect the early embryos from fertilized chicken eggs and played DanStem’s newly developed board game about stem cell differentiation.

The workshop was part of the Inspiration day offered by the Faculties of Science and Health at the University of Copenhagen (http://inspirationsdag.ku.dk). Read more

Danstem Labs Full of Young Science Talents

On February 6, 2017, a young group of extra motivated students from the Science Talent Program visited the center for a full day of stem cell research. The students are part of a two-year science camp series tailored for talented students from upper-secondary schools all over Denmark. One of the program’s main aims is to give the students the motivation to improve their scientific skills and maybe lead the next generation of scientists. Read more about this unique day.

An interview with Professor Josh Brickman

In an interview to the Danish scientific online magazine, Videnskab.dk, Professor Josh Brickman explains the significance of GMO mice to research.

Professor Joshua Brickman and his group work in close collaboration with Cord Brakebusch, the head of the Transgenic Unit at the Panum institute using mice to investigate fundamental questions about how stem cells divide.

A genetically modified mouse (Mus musculus) is a mouse that had its genome altered through the use of genetic engineering techniques. Genetically modified mice are commonly used for research or as animal models of human diseases.

'Order a Scientist' - Public ingagement initiative

Mette Christine Jørgensen and Svend Bertel Dahl-Jensen are two very busy scientists working at DanStem. Both share a unique passion for science communication and find the dissemination of stem cell research an important part of their work as scientists. Svend and Mette will participate in The 'Research Day´ on 24th-30th April, 2017, where they can be booked via 'Bestil en Forsker' to give free lectures on their fields of research. See the article published in the scientific online journal Videnskab.dk,



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Sendt d. 06 April 2017