Basic Research – University of Copenhagen

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Basic Stem Cell Research Groups

Stem cells and Developmental Biology has the overall objective of understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern the ability of progenitor cells to both self-renew and differentiate into mature cells such as insulin-producing beta cells, dopaminergic neurons or liver cells, both in the normal embryo and from pluripotent stem cells in vitro. The understanding of these mechanisms will form a crucial platform for developing future cell-based therapies. By producing beta cells from stem cells, researchers will potentially create a source of new beta cells for diabetes patients, helping them to achieve a better regulation of their blood sugar and perhaps even independence from insulin drugs.

The research program involves eight PIs Henrik SembAnne Grapin-BottonJoshua BrickmanPalle Serup, Elke OberElisabetta Ferretti, Jakub Sedzinski, and Agnete Kirkeby as well as their respective research groups.

Cancer Stem Cells builds on recent discoveries of stem cells in tumours. These findings have given rise to a new model for cancer development, where cancer stem cells are the truly malignant cells in the tumour and therefore are targets for therapy. The program aims at establishing a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to cancer and how cancer stem cells and stem cells contribute to this. Ultimately, the goal is to identify and validate new targets for the development of anti-cancer stem cell-based therapy.

The program places significant attention onto research in leukaemia and breast cancer. Leukaemia was the first cancer type, where cancer stem cells were demonstrated to be present. The Center seeks to transfer insights from this research into treatment of these cancers, where the scientists at the Center have considerable expertise.

The research program is headed by Ole William PetersenKristian Helin and Bo Porse.

Developmental and Stem Cell Biology research groups

The Brickman Laboratory 
Focuses on the transcriptional basis of embryonic stem cell potency/pluripotency and how this relates to normal embryonic development... read more


The Ferretti Laboratory
Focuses on mapping molecular networks involving the TALE class of homeodomain proteins and understanding how they guide organogenesis and tissue homeostasis, and how their aberrations result in congenital diseases and cancer.


The Grapin-Botton Laboratory
Focuses on understanding the mechanisms of endoderm and pancreas development through the use of mouse genetics, 3D imaging and 3D in vitro culture systems... read more


The Helin Laboratory
Focuses on understand the molecular mechanisms leading to cancer. The group investigates the mechanisms that regulate cell-fate decisions in stem cells, differentiated cells as well as tumor cells...read more


The Ober Laboratory
Focuses on developmental biology of studying mechanisms that control the specification of liver progenitors form the foregut endoderm. More information will be provided soon... 


The Petersen Laboratory
Focuses on medical genetics, RNA and gene medicine, glycomics, molecular aging, and differentiation and morphogenesis. Several of these discoveries are pertinent to diagnosis and treatment of human diseases... read more


The Porse Laboratory
Focuses on better understanding of the role of transcription factors in normal and malignant hematopoiesis and to characterize the importance of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in vivo... read more


The Semb Laboratory
Focuses on how cell polarity and tissue architecture control cell fate specification ... 
read more


The Serup Laboratory
Focuses on developmental biology of the pancreas with special emphasis on the insulin producing beta cells... 
read more


The National collaboration project 

Headed by Professor Moustapha Kassem started in August 2013. The project is hosted at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (ICMM) at Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. 
Professor Kassem is the Head of Research Unit at the University of Southern Denmark