Professor Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine
Niels Geijsen is professor of Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine and head of the Department of Anatomy and Embryology at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). His research focuses on studying how, during early embryonic development, so-called pluripotent cells develop into specific cell types, with particular interest in the formation of skeletal muscle tissue. His research group developed in vitro models that can study the formation of normal muscle tissue, but also investigates the influence of specific genetic abnormalities on the formation or repair of muscle tissue. Niels is co-editor in Chief of StemJournal and co-founder of the startups NTrans Technologies (development of applications for iTOP transduction technology) and Divvly (development of software tools to facilitate collaboration between research groups).
Regenerative medicine is an interdisciplinary research field that aims to develop new methods to restore the function of tissues that have been damaged or lost due to disease, trauma or ageing. The field includes (stem) cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, biomaterials and bioprinting technologies.
Niels Geijsen studies how, during early embryonic development, so-called pluripotent cells increasingly specialize to certain cell types, in particular how skeletal muscle formation takes place. His research group developed in vitro models that can study the formation of normal muscle tissue, but also investigate the influence of specific genetic abnormalities on the formation or repair of muscle tissue. In addition, his team developed novel technologies fort the intracellular delivery of (gene-editing) proteins which allow repair of gene mutations.
After studying Medical Biology at Utrecht University, he did his PhD research at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, where he studied how blood cells detect signals emitted by other cells and translate these into an adequate cellular response. After his PhD, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he first came into contact with pluripotent stem cells. Stem cells that are capable of developing into every cell type in our body. In 2004, he started his own research group at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, where his research focused on understanding the signals that mediate the unique properties of different types of pluripotent stem cells, including embryonic stem cells, iPS cells, and germ cells, have their special properties. In 2010 he returned to the Netherlands where he was appointed as group leader at the Hubrecht Institute and was appointed Professor of Regenerative Medicine at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University. There he developed pluripotent stem cell based in vitro research models to study genetic disorders, in particular for genetic muscle diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and facio scapulo humeral dystrophy (FSHD). In addition, his research group developed a unique new technology that makes it possible to introduce gene-editing proteins, with which errors in the DNA of a cell can be repaired, into cells. In May 2020, he came to the LUMC with his research group where he will continue his research into the causes of genetic muscle disorders. He has also been appointed professor of Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Leiden University at the Faculty of Medicine.
Niels is co-editor in Chief of StemJournal and co-founder of the startups NTrans Technologies (development of applications for iTOP transduction technology) and Divvly (development of software tools to facilitate collaboration between research groups).