Hans Clevers

Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands

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Publications (473)6317.09 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The neural crest (NC) is an embryonic stem/progenitor cell population that generates a diverse array of cell lineages, including peripheral neurons, myelinating Schwann cells, and melanocytes, among others. However, there is a long-standing controversy as to whether this broad developmental perspective reflects in vivo multipotency of individual NC cells or whether the NC is comprised of a heterogeneous mixture of lineage-restricted progenitors. Here, we resolve this controversy by performing in vivo fate mapping of single trunk NC cells both at premigratory and migratory stages using the R26R-Confetti mouse model. By combining quantitative clonal analyses with definitive markers of differentiation, we demonstrate that the vast majority of individual NC cells are multipotent, with only few clones contributing to single derivatives. Intriguingly, multipotency is maintained in migratory NC cells. Thus, our findings provide definitive evidence for the in vivo multipotency of both premigratory and migrating NC cells in the mouse. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: Heritable genetic variants can significantly affect the life-time risk of developing cancer, including polyposis and colorectal cancer (CRC). Variants in genes currently known to be associated with a high risk for polyposis or CRC, however, explain only a limited number of hereditary cases. The identification of additional genetic causes is, therefore, crucial to improve CRC prevention, detection and treatment. We have performed genome-wide and targeted DNA copy number profiling and resequencing in early-onset and familial polyposis/CRC patients, and show that deletions affecting the open reading frame of the tumour suppressor gene FOCAD are recurrent and significantly enriched in CRC patients compared to unaffected controls. All patients carrying FOCAD deletions exhibited a personal or family history of polyposis. RNA in-situ hybridization revealed FOCAD expression in epithelial cells in the colonic crypt, the site of tumour initiation, as well as in colonic tumours and organoids. Our data suggest that monoallelic germline deletions in the tumour suppressor gene FOCAD underlie moderate genetic predisposition to the development of polyposis and CRC. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: The Wnt signaling pathway controls stem cell identity in the intestinal epithelium and in many other adult organs. The transcription factor Ascl2 (a Wnt target gene) is a master regulator of intestinal stem cell identity. It is unclear how the continuous Wnt gradient along the crypt axis is translated into discrete expression of Ascl2 and discrete specification of stem cells at crypt bottoms. We show that (1) Ascl2 is regulated in a direct autoactivatory loop, leading to a distinct on/off expression pattern, and (2) Wnt/R-spondin can activate this regulatory loop. This mechanism interprets the Wnt levels in the intestinal crypt and translates the continuous Wnt signal into a discrete Ascl2 "on" or "off" decision. In turn, Ascl2, together with β-catenin/Tcf, activates the genes fundamental to the stem cell state. In this manner, Ascl2 forms a transcriptional switch that is both Wnt responsive and Wnt dependent to define stem cell identity. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Cell Stem Cell 01/2015; 16(2). DOI:10.1016/j.stem.2014.12.006 · 22.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the enormous replication potential of the human liver, there are currently no culture systems available that sustain hepatocyte replication and/or function in vitro. We have shown previously that single mouse Lgr5+ liver stem cells can be expanded as epithelial organoids in vitro and can be differentiated into functional hepatocytes in vitro and in vivo. We now describe conditions allowing long-term expansion of adult bile duct-derived bipotent progenitor cells from human liver. The expanded cells are highly stable at the chromosome and structural level, while single base changes occur at very low rates. The cells can readily be converted into functional hepatocytes in vitro and upon transplantation in vivo. Organoids from α1-antitrypsin deficiency and Alagille syndrome patients mirror the in vivo pathology. Clonal long-term expansion of primary adult liver stem cells opens up experimental avenues for disease modeling, toxicology studies, regenerative medicine, and gene therapy. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: The intrinsic neural networks of the gastrointestinal tract are derived from dedicated neural crest progenitors that colonize the gut during embryogenesis and give rise to enteric neurons and glia. Here, we study how an essential subpopulation of enteric glial cells (EGCs) residing within the intestinal mucosa is integrated into the dynamic microenvironment of the alimentary tract. We find that under normal conditions colonization of the lamina propria by glial cells commences during early postnatal stages but reaches steady-state levels after weaning. By employing genetic lineage tracing, we provide evidence that in adult mice the network of mucosal EGCs is continuously renewed by incoming glial cells originating in the plexi of the gut wall. Finally, we demonstrate that both the initial colonization and homeostasis of glial cells in the intestinal mucosa are regulated by the indigenous gut microbiota. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Neuron 01/2015; 85(2). DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2014.12.037 · 15.77 Impact Factor
  • Johan H van Es, Hans Clevers
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    ABSTRACT: Genetically engineered mouse models of intestinal cancer are experimental systems in which mice are genetically manipulated to develop malignancies in the gastrointestinal tract. These models enable researchers to study the mechanisms of onset, progression, and metastasis of the disease. They also provide a valuable biological system which is suitable for testing (novel) drugs in vivo. Recently, an in vitro culture model has been established in which intestinal epithelial stem cells can grow into three-dimensional, ever-expanding epithelial organoids that retain their original organ identity and genetic stability. This culture system has been applied to diseased epithelia, such as adenoma, adenocarcinoma, and Barrett's epithelium. These organoids can be particularly useful for studying the mechanisms of intestinal tumors and to test (novel) drugs in vitro. Here, we describe our current laboratory protocols to generate and analyze intestinal tumors and organoids harboring APC and K-Ras double mutations.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2015; 1267:125-44. DOI:10.1007/978-1-4939-2297-0_6 · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal malignancies due to its late diagnosis and limited response to treatment. Tractable methods to identify and interrogate pathways involved in pancreatic tumorigenesis are urgently needed. We established organoid models from normal and neoplastic murine and human pancreas tissues. Pancreatic organoids can be rapidly generated from resected tumors and biopsies, survive cryopreservation, and exhibit ductal- and disease-stage-specific characteristics. Orthotopically transplanted neoplastic organoids recapitulate the full spectrum of tumor development by forming early-grade neoplasms that progress to locally invasive and metastatic carcinomas. Due to their ability to be genetically manipulated, organoids are a platform to probe genetic cooperation. Comprehensive transcriptional and proteomic analyses organoids revealed genes and pathways altered during disease progression. The confirmation of many of these protein changes in human tissues demonstrates that organoids are a facile model of murine pancreatic system to discover characteristics of this deadly malignancy.
    Cell 12/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.12.021 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glucagon-like peptide-1-based (GLP-1-based) therapies improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. While these agents augment insulin secretion, they do not mimic the physiological meal-related rise and fall of GLP-1 concentrations. Here, we tested the hypothesis that increasing the number of intestinal L cells, which produce GLP-1, is an alternative strategy to augment insulin responses and improve glucose tolerance. Blocking the NOTCH signaling pathway with the γ-secretase inhibitor dibenzazepine increased the number of L cells in intestinal organoid-based mouse and human culture systems and augmented glucose-stimulated GLP-1 secretion. In a high-fat diet-fed mouse model of impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes, dibenzazepine administration increased L cell numbers in the intestine, improved the early insulin response to glucose, and restored glucose tolerance. Dibenzazepine also increased K cell numbers, resulting in increased gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) secretion. Using a GLP-1 receptor antagonist, we determined that the insulinotropic effect of dibenzazepine was mediated through an increase in GLP-1 signaling. Together, our data indicate that modulation of the development of incretin-producing cells in the intestine has potential as a therapeutic strategy to improve glycemic control.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 12/2014; 125(1). DOI:10.1172/JCI75838 · 15.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The endodermal lining of the adult gastro-intestinal tract harbours stem cells that are responsible for the day-to-day regeneration of the epithelium. Stem cells residing in the pyloric glands of the stomach and in the small intestinal crypts differ in their differentiation programme and in the gene repertoire that they express. Both types of stem cells have been shown to grow from single cells into 3D structures (organoids) in vitro. We show that single adult Lgr5-positive stem cells, isolated from small intestinal organoids, require Cdx2 to maintain their intestinal identity and are converted cell-autonomously into pyloric stem cells in the absence of this transcription factor. Clonal descendants of Cdx2(null) small intestinal stem cells enter the gastric differentiation program instead of producing intestinal derivatives. We show that the intestinal genetic programme is critically dependent on the single transcription factor encoding gene Cdx2.
    Nature Communications 12/2014; 5:5728. DOI:10.1038/ncomms6728 · 10.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the complexity of the human brain and its functional diversity remain a major challenge. Distinct anatomical regions are involved in an array of processes, including organismal homeostasis, cognitive functions, and susceptibility to neurological pathologies, many of which define our species. Distal enhancers have emerged as key regulatory elements that acquire histone modifications in a cell- and species-specific manner, thus enforcing specific gene expression programs. Here, we survey the epigenomic landscape of promoters and cis-regulatory elements in 136 regions of the adult human brain. We identify a total of 83,553 promoter-distal H3K27ac-enriched regions showing global characteristics of brain enhancers. We use coregulation of enhancer elements across many distinct regions of the brain to uncover functionally distinct networks at high resolution and link these networks to specific neuroglial functions. Furthermore, we use these data to understand the relevance of noncoding genomic variations previously linked to Parkinson's disease incidence.
    Cell Reports 10/2014; 9(2):767-79. DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2014.09.023 · 7.21 Impact Factor
  • Paul W Tetteh, Henner F Farin, Hans Clevers
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    ABSTRACT: Tissue homeostasis and regeneration are fueled by resident stem cells that have the capacity to self-renew, and to generate all the differentiated cell types that characterize a particular tissue. Classical models of such cellular hierarchies propose that commitment and differentiation occur unidirectionally, with the arrows 'pointing away' from the stem cell. Recent studies, all based on genetic lineage tracing, describe various strategies employed by epithelial stem cell hierarchies to replace damaged or lost cells. While transdifferentiation from one tissue type into another ('metaplasia') appears to be generally forbidden in nonpathological contexts, plasticity within an individual tissue stem cell hierarchy may be much more common than previously appreciated. In this review, we discuss recent examples of such plasticity in selected mammalian epithelia, highlighting the different modes of regeneration and their implications for our understanding of cellular hierarchy and tissue self-renewal.
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND & AIMS: We previously established long-term, 3-dimensional culture of organoids from mouse tissues (intestine, stomach, pancreas, and liver) and human intestine and pancreas. Here we describe conditions required for long-term 3-dimensional culture of human gastric stem cells. The technology can be applied to study the epithelial response to infection with Helicobacter pylori. METHODS: We generated organoids from surgical samples of human gastric corpus. Culture conditions were developed based on those for the mouse gastric and human intestinal systems. We used microinjection to infect the organoids with H pylori. Epithelial responses were measured using microarray and quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses. RESULTS: Human gastric cells were expanded indefinitely in 3-dimensional cultures. We cultured cells from healthy gastric tissues, single-sorted stem cells, or tumor tissues. Organoids maintained many characteristics of their respective tissues based on their histology, expression of markers, and euploidy. Organoids from healthy tissue expressed markers of 4 lineages of the stomach and self-organized into gland and pit domains. They could be directed to specifically express either lineages of the gastric gland, or the gastric pit, by addition of nicotinamide and withdrawal of WNT. Although gastric pit lineages had only marginal reactions to bacterial infection, gastric gland lineages mounted a strong inflammatory response. CONCLUSIONS: We developed a system to culture human gastric organoids. This system can be used to study H pylori infection and other gastric pathologies.
    Gastroenterology 10/2014; 148(1). DOI:10.1053/j.gastro.2014.09.042 · 12.82 Impact Factor
  • Hans Clevers, Kyle M Loh, Roel Nusse
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    ABSTRACT: Stem cells fuel tissue development, renewal, and regeneration, and these activities are controlled by the local stem cell microenvironment, the "niche." Wnt signals emanating from the niche can act as self-renewal factors for stem cells in multiple mammalian tissues. Wnt proteins are lipid-modified, which constrains them to act as short-range cellular signals. The locality of Wnt signaling dictates that stem cells exiting the Wnt signaling domain differentiate, spatially delimiting the niche in certain tissues. In some instances, stem cells may act as or generate their own niche, enabling the self-organization of patterned tissues. In this Review, we discuss the various ways by which Wnt operates in stem cell control and, in doing so, identify an integral program for tissue renewal and regeneration.
    Science 10/2014; 346(6205):1248012. DOI:10.1126/science.1248012 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The transcription factor NF-κB is indispensable for intestinal immune homeostasis, but contributes to chronic inflammation and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A20, an inhibitor of both NF-κB and apoptotic signalling, was identified as a susceptibility gene for multiple inflammatory diseases, including IBD. Despite absence of spontaneous intestinal inflammation in intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) specific A20 knockout mice, we found additional myeloid-specific A20 deletion to synergistically drive intestinal pathology through cell-specific mechanisms. A20 ensures intestinal barrier stability by preventing cytokine-induced IEC apoptosis, while A20 prevents excessive cytokine production in myeloid cells. Combining IEC and myeloid A20 deletion induces ileitis and severe colitis, characterized by IEC apoptosis, Paneth and goblet cell loss, epithelial hyperproliferation and intestinal microbiota dysbiosis. Continuous epithelial cell death and regeneration in an inflammatory environment sensitizes cells for neoplastic transformation and the development of colorectal tumours in aged mice.
    Nature Communications 09/2014; 5:5103. DOI:10.1038/ncomms6103 · 10.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BET family proteins are novel therapeutic targets for cancer and inflammation and represent the first chromatin readers against which small-molecule inhibitors have been developed. First-generation BET inhibitors have shown therapeutic efficacy in preclinical models, but the consequences of sustained BET protein inhibition in normal tissues remain poorly characterized. Using an inducible and reversible transgenic RNAi mouse model, we show that strong suppression of the BET protein Brd4 in adult animals has dramatic effects in multiple tissues. Brd4-depleted mice display reversible epidermal hyperplasia, alopecia, and decreased cellular diversity and stem cell depletion in the small intestine. Furthermore, Brd4-suppressed intestines are sensitive to organ stress and show impaired regeneration following irradiation, suggesting that concurrent Brd4 suppression and certain cytotoxic therapies may induce undesirable synergistic effects. These findings provide important insight into Brd4 function in normal tissues and, importantly, predict several potential outcomes associated with potent and sustained BET protein inhibition.
    Cell Reports 09/2014; 8(6). DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2014.08.025 · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The lack of in vitro prostate cancer models that recapitulate the diversity of human prostate cancer has hampered progress in understanding disease pathogenesis and therapy response. Using a 3D organoid system, we report success in long-term culture of prostate cancer from biopsy specimens and circulating tumor cells. The first seven fully characterized organoid lines recapitulate the molecular diversity of prostate cancer subtypes, including TMPRSS2-ERG fusion, SPOP mutation, SPINK1 overexpression, and CHD1 loss. Whole-exome sequencing shows a low mutational burden, consistent with genomics studies, but with mutations in FOXA1 and PIK3R1, as well as in DNA repair and chromatin modifier pathways that have been reported in advanced disease. Loss of p53 and RB tumor suppressor pathway function are the most common feature shared across the organoid lines. The methodology described here should enable the generation of a large repertoire of patient-derived prostate cancer lines amenable to genetic and pharmacologic studies.
    Cell 09/2014; 159(1). DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.08.016 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The prostate gland consists of basal and luminal cells arranged as pseudostratified epithelium. In tissue recombination models, only basal cells reconstitute a complete prostate gland, yet murine lineage-tracing experiments show that luminal cells generate basal cells. It has remained challenging to address the molecular details of these transitions and whether they apply to humans, due to the lack of culture conditions that recapitulate prostate gland architecture. Here, we describe a 3D culture system that supports long-term expansion of primary mouse and human prostate organoids, composed of fully differentiated CK5+ basal and CK8+ luminal cells. Organoids are genetically stable, reconstitute prostate glands in recombination assays, and can be experimentally manipulated. Single human luminal and basal cells give rise to organoids, yet luminal-cell-derived organoids more closely resemble prostate glands. These data support a luminal multilineage progenitor cell model for prostate tissue and establish a robust, scalable system for mechanistic studies.
    Cell 09/2014; 159(1). DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.08.017 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is one of the most common chronic gastrointestinal diseases, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. Studies of monogenic diseases can provide insight into the pathogenesis of IBD. Objective: We thought to determine the underlying molecular causes of IBD occurring in 2 unrelated families in association with an immune deficiency. Methods: We performed genetic linkage analysis and candidate gene sequencing on 13 patients from a large consanguineous family affected by early-onset IBD, progressive immune deficiency, and, in some cases, autoimmunity and alopecia, a condition we named enteropathy-lymphocytopenia-alopecia. The candidate gene was also sequenced in an unrelated patient with a similar phenotype. We performed histologic analysis of patients’ intestinal biopsy specimens and carried out functional assays on PBMCs. Gut organoids derived from a patient’s biopsy specimen were analyzed. Results: We identified biallelic missense mutations in tetratricopeptide repeat domain 7A (TTC7A) in all patients from both families. The resulting TTC7A depletion modified the proliferation, adhesion, and migratory capacities of lymphocytes through inappropriate activation of the RhoA signaling pathway. Normal function was restored by wild-type TTC7A expression or addition of a RhoA kinase inhibitor. The growth and polarity of gut epithelial organoids were also found to be dependent on the RhoA signaling pathway. Conclusions: We show that TTC7A regulates the actin cytoskeleton dynamics in lymphocytes through the RhoA signaling pathway and is required in both lymphocytes and epithelial cells for maintaining equilibrium between cell proliferation, migration, polarization, and cell death. Our study highlights variability in the phenotypic expression resulting from TTC7A deficiency and outlines that impairment of both epithelial cells and lymphocytes cooperatively causes IBD.
    Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 08/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.07.019 · 11.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The epithelium of the small intestine is the most rapidly self-renewing tissue in mammals. We previously demonstrated the existence of a long-lived pool of cycling stem cells defined by Lgr5 expression at the bottom of intestinal crypts. An Lgr5-eGFP-IRES-CreERT2 knockin allele has been instrumental in characterizing and profiling these cells, yet its low level expression and its silencing in patches of adjacent crypts have not allowed quantitative gene deletion. Olfactomedin-4 (Olfm4) has emerged from a gene signature of Lgr5 stem cells as a robust marker for murine small intestinal stem cells. We observe that Olfm4null animals show no phenotype and report the generation of an Olfm4-IRES-eGFPCreERT2 knockin mouse model that allows visualization and genetic manipulation of Lgr5+ stem cells in the epithelium of the small intestine. The eGFPCreERT2 fusion protein faithfully marks all stem cells in the small intestine and induces the activation of a conditional LacZ reporter with robust efficiency.
    08/2014; 3(2). DOI:10.1016/j.stemcr.2014.05.018
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    ABSTRACT: Microvillus inclusion disease (MVID) is a disorder of intestinal epithelial differentiation characterized by life-threatening intractable diarrhea. MVID can be diagnosed based on loss of microvilli, microvillus inclusions, and accumulation of subapical vesicles. Most patients with MVID have mutations in myosin Vb that cause defects in recycling of apical vesicles. Whole-exome sequencing of DNA from patients with variant MVID revealed homozygous truncating mutations in syntaxin 3 (STX3). STX3 is an apical receptor involved in membrane fusion of apical vesicles in enterocytes. Patient-derived organoid cultures and overexpression of truncated STX3 in CaCo2 cells recapitulated most characteristics of variant MVID. We conclude that loss of STX3 function causes variant MVID.
    Gastroenterology 07/2014; 147(1). DOI:10.1053/j.gastro.2014.04.002 · 12.82 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

56k Citations
6,317.09 Total Impact Points

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Institutions

  • 1998–2015
    • Hubrecht Institute
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Chemical Biology Laboratory
      Bethesda, MD, United States
  • 1991–2015
    • University Medical Center Utrecht
      • • Department of Immunology
      • • Department of Pathology
      • • Department of Hematology
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2014
    • Tsinghua University
      Peping, Beijing, China
  • 1993–2014
    • Utrecht University
      • Division of Immunology
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2013
    • Keio University
      • School of Medicine
      Tokyo, Tokyo-to, Japan
  • 2004–2013
    • Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen
      • Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research
      Amsterdamo, North Holland, Netherlands
  • 2001–2012
    • Leiden University Medical Centre
      • Department of Immunhematology and Blood Transfusion
      Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands
  • 1996–2012
    • Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Utrecht
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 1989–2012
    • Netherlands Cancer Institute
      • Division of Immunology
      Amsterdamo, North Holland, Netherlands
  • 2003–2011
    • University of Cambridge
      • Department of Physics: Cavendish Laboratory
      Cambridge, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 2005–2009
    • Erasmus MC
      • • Department of Medical Oncology
      • • Department of Immunology
      Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
    • Cardiff University
      • School of Biosciences
      Cardiff, WLS, United Kingdom
  • 2006
    • Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies
      Barcino, Catalonia, Spain
  • 2000
    • University of Nottingham
      • Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre
      Nottigham, England, United Kingdom
  • 1999
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      North Carolina, United States
  • 1991–1999
    • University of Amsterdam
      • Department of Anatomy and Embryology
      Amsterdamo, North Holland, Netherlands
  • 1995
    • University of Lausanne
      Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland
  • 1988–1994
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1987–1989
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States