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Bioscience Initiative - Universiteit Leiden

Bioscience Initiative

Bioscience Initiative
Leiden University

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Split decisions: Molecular mechanisms for error-free chromosome segregation

Van Leeuwenhoek Lecture on BioScience.

Thursday October 29 2015 at 16.00hrs.
Gorlaeus laboratories, Cell Observatory
From 15.30 onwards: tea/coffee/biscuits
Drinks after the lecture
Geert Kops

Geert Kops is Professor of Molecular Tumor Cell Biology in a shared appointment between the Department of Molecular Cancer Research and the Department of Medical Oncology, at the University Medical Center Utrecht. He obtained his PhD in 2001 at Utrecht University for his investigations into the P13kinase-PBK/Akt-FOXO pathway and its role in cellular proliferation. He then pursued postdoctoral studies in the lab of Don Cleveland at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in La Jolla, California, where he investigated aspects of the mitotic checkpoint. He returned to the Netherlands in 2005. His primary research interests include signaling networks that regulate chromosome segregation, and the potential use of targeting these networks as an anti-cancer strategy. He is the recipient of the NVBMB prize 2004 and was awarded an ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grant from the European Research Council in 2009.

The trillions of cells in the human body exist because of countless successful cycles of cell growth and division during embryo development. These cycles continue during our lifetime to produce cells for tissue renewal and repair. Uncontrolled cell division cycles, however, cause cancer. Our lab aims to understand how normal division cycles produce healthy cells and how errors in this process contribute to cancer. We focus on the distribution of our genetic material, the chromosomes, during the mitotic phase of cell division (see movie: chromosomes are in white, spindle microtubules in green). Errors in chromosome segregation are a common feature of cancer cell divisions. Our research focusses on three main topics:

1). How is error-free chromosome segregation ensured at the molecular level?
2). Which changes to mitotic processes cause mistakes in cancer cell divisions and how does this impact tumor initiation and development?
3). How have these processes evolved during ~1 billion years of eukaryotic evolution and can we predict molecular functionalities based on evolutionary conservation or lack thereof?