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New CeMM Principal Investigator Laura de Rooij


New Principal Investigator Laura de Rooij (©Laura Alvarez / CeMM).

On September 1, 2022, Laura de Rooij joined CeMM as a new Principal Investigator. Laura de Rooij will combine wet and dry lab biology to decipher the role of circulating endothelial cells (CECs) in human blood. Her research will advance the understanding and highlight the potential of this cell type in the treatment of age-associated diseases, expanding, thus, CeMM’s expertise in the field of aging.

The rare circulating endothelial (progenitor) cell has clinical relevance for its potential key role in numerous diseases associated with aging, such as cardiovascular disease. However, the lack of research as well as molecular definition and characterization has slowed down the development of clinical therapies. Laura de Rooij’s group aims to generate the first-ever transcriptome-level blueprint of this cell type by mining publicly available single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data, performing large-scale single cell transcriptomics, and functionally validating the associated findings. Their overall goal is to advance the understanding of this cell type in health and aging, which will also open the avenue to further develop medical therapies to effectively treat age-related diseases.

Laura de Rooij studied Biomedical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and obtained her PhD at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University in Hamilton (Canada), with a focus on investigating the biology of cancer stem cells in different tumor types. For her postdoctoral studies, she joined Prof. Carmeliet’s laboratory of Angiogenesis and Vascular Metabolism at VIB-KU Leuven (Belgium), where she led and contributed to numerous single-cell transcriptome atlases of endothelial cells in the blood vessels from a diverse range of tissues, preclinical models and clinical patient material in health and disease. Her efforts led to the discovery of previously unknown vascular subtypes and functions in, for instance, breast cancer and COVID-19.

This new addition reinforces CeMM’s interdisciplinary nature and commitment to advancing the understanding of human diseases through basic and biomedical research. CeMM gladly welcomes Laura into our institute and looks forward to her scientific breakthroughs and innovative research work in vascular aging!