Maria Genander

Principal researcher

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Research description

The Genander lab is interested in understanding stem cell maintenance, lineage specification and differentiation during homeostasis and tumor formation. We use epithelial stem cell niches to understand the link between normal stem cell function and tumor initiation and development.


Current Projects

Transcriptional regulation of epidermal progenitor and tumor cells

It is becoming clear that mechanisms important for developing tissues are often reused in cancers. Cancer stem cells drive tumor formation, analogous to how normal stem cells maintain tissues. We are characterising transcriptional networks regulating properties of developing epidermal stem cells and squamous cell carcinoma tumor cells to identify signatures that can be used to reduce tumor growth.


Posttranslational protein modifications in developing hair follicles

We want to understand how posttranslational modifications of proteins, including histone tails, affect stem and progenitor cells in the hair follicle. Citrullination is a protein modification where arginine is converted to the neutral amino acid citrulline. The generation of citrulline affects protein folding, interaction dynamics with other proteins and, in the case of histone tail citrullination, transcriptional activity. We are studying the role of citrullination in hair follicle progenitor cell proliferation and lineage commitment. 


Progenitor cell heterogeneity in the esophagus

We have identified heterogeneity within the esophageal stem cell population in the normal mouse esophagus, and are now working to understand how this heterogeneity is established and maintained. We want to functionally characterize distinct stem cell populations and map out how they interact with neighboring stromal cells in the healthy esophagus, in order to then understand how these interactions change during esophageal cancer. Our goal is to systematically identify and impact alterations in tumor cells and their stromal niche to reduce tumor burden. 


Current Lab Members

Evelien Eenjes, Post Doc

Wei Yang, Post Doc

Vera Shirokova, Post Doc

Kim Vikhe Patil, PhD student

David Grommisch, PhD student

Kylie Hin-Man Mak, PhD student


Interested in joining the lab?

We are looking for highly motivated PhD or postdoctoral candidates who are experienced in, or interested in mastering, bioinformatics. Contact me directly if you are interested in joining the lab!