Universiteit Leiden

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Susana Chuva de Sousa Lopes

Professor Developmental Biology, in particular human development

Prof.dr. S.M. Chuva de Sousa Lopes
+31 71 526 9111

Susana Chuva de Sousa Lopes is Professor in Developmental Biology in the Department of Anatomy and Embryology at the Leiden University Medical Center. She is also Visiting Professor at the Ghent University Hospital, Belgium. She is coordinator of the “Stem Cell” group of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). She received a VENI (2006) and a VICI (2019) grants from NWO/ZonMW and has an ERC consolidator grant (2016). She received twice an Aspasia premium and twice the Snoo - van 't Hoogerhuijs Foundation award.

More information about Susana Chuva de Sousa Lopes

Human Development

There is a fast growing interest in Human Development from an embryological point of view. Firstly, because it has become clear that malignant cells exploit early developmental programmes for their survival and growth, hence a deeper understanding of human development will have impact in cancer research. Second, because we want to develop better (and more efficient) models for in vitro differentiation to specific cell types of interest from human pluripotent stem cells or using a 3D-approach with organoids/organs-on-chip.

This chair combines expertise from in vivo human development (access to fetal material) with strong knowledge of in vitro human differentiation assays (tissue culture models), providing a mix of basic and applied research. In addition, there is strong embedding with top-notch single-cell technologies and computational biology as well as genome editing technologies. Our focus remains the urogenital system, developing assays to mature oocytes from ovarian material and in vitro gametogenesis. This research is relevant to determine novel strategies for fertility preservation and develop innovative technologies in human reproduction.

The related NWA-routes are:

  • Regenerative Medicine: game changer moving to broad areas of application
  • Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment
  • Measuring and detecting: anything, anytime, anywhere
  • The origin of life – on earth & in the universe
  • Personalized medicine: the individual at the centre

Academic career

Dr. Chuva de Sousa Lopes got her PhD from the University Utrecht (Hubrecht Institute) in 2004 (“BMPs, TGFbs and integrins in muscle and germ cell development in mice”). After two postdoc periods at the Gurdon Institute, Cambridge University, UK and one postdoc at the Hubrecht Institute, NL, she moved to the LUMC.

In the last 5 years, the Chuva group has focused on investigating the developmental trajectories of human organs and tissues, with particular interest for the urogenital system. This has resulted in several publications on transcriptomics (Roost et al., Nature Communications, 2017), DNA methylomics (Slieker et al., Plos Genetics, 2015) and histological analysis (Gomes Fernandes, Human Reprod, 2018). Based on transcriptional profiles of over a hundred different human (fetal) organs, KeyGenes a mathematical algorithm was developed to compare transcriptional data from differentiated human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) with their in vivo counterparts (Roost et al., Stem Cell Reports, 2015). Our datasets and computational code are freely available on an open-access website (www.keygenes.nl). KeyGenes proved of value in demonstrating the fidelity of kidney organoids derived from human induced PSCs (hiPSCs) (Takasato et al., Nature, 2015).

The Chuva group is among the first to combine single-cell transcriptomics with human exome sequencing allowing reconstruction of parental haplotypes and subsequently quantification of allele specific expression in human germ cells. This contributed to uncover the dynamics of X chromosome reactivation and genome imprinting erasure in the human female germline (Vertesy et al., Nature Communications, 2018). More recently, The Chuva group have characterized the human adult ovary at the single-cell level (Fan et al., Nature Communications, 2019).

The inaugural lecture “Innovative technologies in human reproduction: challenges ahead” will take place on the 29th June 2020.

Professor Developmental Biology, in particular human development

  • Faculteit Geneeskunde
  • Divisie 4
  • Anatomie en Embryologie

Work address

LUMC Main Building
Albinusdreef 2
2333 ZA Leiden



  • Elsevier Executive editor voor peer-review tijdschrift GENE
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