Maarten van Lohuizen Group

Maarten van Lohuizen

Oncode Investigator at NKI

My research

Maarten van Lohuizen studied Biology and received his PhD in 1992 from the University of Amsterdam where he studied cooperating oncogenes in murine lymphomagenesis in the lab of Dr. A. Berns at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI). During his thesis work, he demonstrated the power of using retroviruses in genetic screens to identify cooperating oncogenes in cancer-predisposed mice and identified the oncogene Bmi1 as a mouse Polycomb group gene.

In 1993 he joined the group of Prof. Dr. I. Herskowitz, University of California at San Francisco, USA, for his postdoctoral training. Here, he was involved in analysis of a novel cell cycle checkpoint mechanism and in studying regulation of the Yeast MAP-kinase signaling pathway. In 1995 he returned to The Netherlands Cancer Institute as an assistant professor in the division of Molecular Carcinogenesis, working on mechanisms of epigenetic silencing by mammalian Polycomb-group protein complexes and their role in cancer, when deregulated. After his tenure in 2000, he joined the division of Molecular Genetics in 2001, of which he was appointed head of division in 2002. In addition, in 2001 he became a part time professor on the subject of regulation of Cell Cycle control and Oncogenesis at Utrecht University Medical School and was appointed as a member of the Centre for Biomedical Genetics in 2003. In 2007 he became part time professor at the University of Amsterdam Medical School with the profile: Biology and epigenetic regulation of normal and cancer stem cells.

His group has made important contributions on the functional analysis of epigenetic gene silencing mechanisms by Polycomb-group protein complexes, which play crucial roles in controlling development and cell fate and when deregulated, contribute to cancer formation.

His group has also developed a cancer systems biology approach using high-throughput genome-wide genetic screens in cell-based assays and in cancer-prone mice combined with new bioinformatic tools (in collaboration with Prof. Dr. A. Berns and Prof. Dr. A. Bradley, The Sanger Center, UK) to identify new genes that contribute to cancer and classify them in functional groups/signaling pathways

In addition, his group has demonstrated a crucial role for Bmi1/Pc-G protein complexes in maintaining hemapoietic, neuronal, breast epithelial and embryonal stem cell fate. Unraveling the role of Bmi1/Pc-G in stem cell fate versus differentiation decisions and the consequence of this for cancer (stem) cell biology is currently a major focus of his group.


  • 2015: Elected Member of Academia Europaea
  • 2004: Elected EMBO member
  • 2003: Elected Member of Centre for Biomedical genetics
  • 1999: PIONEER grant from Dutch organization of Scientific Research
  • 1992: PhD cum laude, University of Amsterdam

Key publications

  1. Serresi, M., Gargiulo, G., Proost, N., Siteur, B., Cesaroni, M., Koppens, M., ... & Orkin, S. (2016). Polycomb repressive complex 2 is a barrier to KRAS-driven inflammation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in non-small-cell lung cancer. Cancer cell, 29(1), 17-31.
  2. Gargiulo, G., Cesaroni, M., Serresi, M., de Vries, N., Hulsman, D., Bruggeman, S. W., ... & van Lohuizen, M. (2013). In vivo RNAi screen for BMI1 targets identifies TGF-β/BMP-ER stress pathways as key regulators of neural-and malignant glioma-stem cell homeostasis. Cancer cell, 23(5), 660-676.
  3. Uren, A. G., Kool, J., Matentzoglu, K., de Ridder, J., Mattison, J., van Uitert, M., ... & Reinders, M. (2008). Large-scale mutagenesis in p19ARF-and p53-deficient mice identifies cancer genes and their collaborative networks. Cell, 133(4), 727-741.
  4. Bruggeman, S. W., Hulsman, D., Tanger, E., Buckle, T., Blom, M., Zevenhoven, J., ... & van Lohuizen, M. (2007). Bmi1 controls tumor development in an Ink4a/Arf-independent manner in a mouse model for glioma. Cancer cell, 12(4), 328-341.
  5. Sparmann, A., & van Lohuizen, M. (2006). Polycomb silencers control cell fate, development and cancer. Nature Reviews Cancer, 6(11), 846.
Contact Information
Maarten van Lohuizen

Maarten van Lohuizen

Oncode Investigator

Oncode Investigator

More Research

Research Strategy
Focus and Approach
Over 800 scientists working under a single strategy. Oncode is all about uniting efforts and bringing focus to research.
Support Programme
Our supporting programmes
New plans that help fulfil Oncode's objectives get our full support. Young talents are matched with mentors on the basis of their personal endeavours.
Research Groups
Our Groups
We firmly believe in sharing knowledge. From experienced veterans to talented young researchers, we work together in 61 groups.