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Developmental Biology

The Department Development Biology performs basic research and is involved in several teaching and training programs.

About our Department

Our research

Most organisms consist of a one single cell at least once in a life time. This is also true for us, where life starts as a single cell, the zygote, which forms the basis for more than 300 different cell types present in our body. Information required to be able to build these cell types, tissues, and complex organs, is located in our DNA. Although this DNA is identical in every cell the instructions are read differently to allow embryonic development to proceed. Differential reading of the DNA is aided by complex ‘epigenetic’ mechanisms that involve chromatin modifications to allow the cell to remember the decisions made and to maintain its identity. Prior to the start of new life, during the formation of egg and sperm and just after fertilization, all this information needs to be erased to be able to start with a clean slate. It is essential that the one cell embryo, the zygote, starts life and proceeds through embryonic development with both an intact genome, and a correctly marked epigenome. Erasure of old, and setting of new epigenetic information is influenced by the environment in which our gametes and embryos mature. Exposure to environmental factors and conditions, or genetic mutations, may lead to unscheduled changes in epigenetic memory of cells and tissues, impacting on health, fertility, and aging.


Visiting address
Erasmus MC - Dept. of Developmental Biology
Dr. Molewaterplein 40 - Ee971
3015 GD Rotterdam
The Netherlands

phone +31-10-7043169 
email j.gribnau@erasmusmc.nl

Postal addres
Erasmus MC - Dept. of Developmental Biology
PO Box 2040
3000 CA  Rotterdam
The Netherlands


The department of Developmental Biology aims to unravel the epigenetic mechanisms regulating cell fate decisions in the cycle of life, and to translate this knowledge to understand deregulations that may occur in X-linked diseases, cancer, infertility, and aging. 

Wij onderzoeken en behandelen GEEN patiënten! Bent u patiënt? Neemt u dan, afhankelijk van de zorgvraag, contact op met een van de volgende poliklinieken: 

(010) 704 01 16
08.00-12.00 uur 
(010) 704 01 15
08.00-12.00 uur en 13.30-16.00 uur 
In Vitro Fertilisatie / Voortplantingscentrum
(010) 704 01 16
09.30 – 11.30 uur en 13.30-15.00 uur 
Verloskunde en Vrouwenziekten
(010) 704 01 48
08.00-12.00 uur en 13.30-16.30 uur 

Principal Investigators

Joost Gribnau
head of the department

Willy Baarends  
associate professor

Menno Creyghton
associate professor 

Rebekka Schneider
associate professor

Cristina Gontan Pardo
principal investigator

Catherine Dupont
Federica Fabro
Helene Gleitz
Hegias Mira Bontenbal

Aurelie Boeree, Stijn Fuchs, Eveline Rentmeester, Esther Sleddens-Linkels, Gerjanne Vroeg in de Wei, Evelyne Wassenaar 

PhD Students:
Bella Banjanin, Jeffrey Boeren, Joachim Boers, Ruben Boers, Ilse de Bruin, Nina Dartee, Erlantz Gonzalez Sanchez, Jonathan Klavert, Tesa Klenovsek, Marieke van Leeuwen, Samuel Luchsinger, Rocio Maldonado, Aditya Mhaskar, Arina Puchkina, Teresa Robert Finestra, Stephani Schmitz, Beatrice Tan


Research Lines

X chromosome inactivation
In mammals, gene dosage of X chromosomal genes is equalized between sexes by inactivation of one of the two X chromosomes in female cells. 

Epigenetic mechanisms in stem cells and disease
Methylated DNA-sequencing (MeD-seq) 

Meiotic and post-meiotic chromatin regulation
DNA double strand breaks, chromosome pairing, and transcriptional inactivation during meiotic prophase

Oncode Institute
Cancer research 


Erasmus MC iPS core facility
The Erasmus MC iPS core facility was founded by the department of Developmental Biology in 2010


News, events and awards


BSc & MSc students

MSc Molecular Medicine
Tweejarige onderzoeksmaster voor medische en biomedische studenten

PhD students

The Biomedical Sciences PhD program is embedded in the Graduate School Medical Genetics Center South West Netherlands. The additional requirements, courses, and modules of this program are aimed at further improving education, training and technical expertise of PhD students at Erasmus MC. In addition, the Biomedical Sciences PhD program incorporates obligatory courses offered by the Erasmus MC.

More information can be found at  PhD program Biomedical Sciences.

Any questions?

Please contact our office if you have any questions or comments.

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