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Biochemistry: Thijn Brummelkamp


Thijn Brummelkamp, Ph.D. professorGroup leader

About Thijn Brummelkamp

Research interest: Experimental biomedical genetics

Experimental genetics provides a powerful window into complex biological processes. Recently we have developed an entirely novel genetic model system to expand the toolbox for genetics in human cells. This method enables efficient inactivation of human genes by a single mutation using insertional mutagenesis in cells that are haploid or near-haploid. We have used haploid genetic screens to identify genes that play a role in human disease. This led to the identification of the lysosomal cholesterol transporter NPC1 as the long-sought intracellular receptor for Ebola virus, the first cellular entry receptor used by a Clostridium difficile toxin and numerous host factors needed for construction of the Lassa virus entry receptor. Beyond its application in infectious disease we use haploid genetics to identify genes important for drug-action or to search for cancer cell vulnerabilities.

In parallel, we are also interested in understanding the mechanisms that control organ size. How tissues stop growing upon reaching a certain size remains a mystery in biology. This is likely relevant for tumorigenesis because tumor cells are able to bypass normal growth control and continue to proliferate unabated.Drosophila genetics has increased our understanding of the biology of organ size control, and the Hippo signaling pathway has emerged as a key regulator. Interestingly, all the components of the Hippo pathway are conserved in mammals and some have been implicated in cancer. We use genetic mouse models and biochemical methods to address how this signaling pathway regulates tissue size in mammals and how it contributes to tumorigenesis.


Fauster, Astrid

Astrid Fauster, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


After completing a master's degree in molecular microbiology at the University of Graz, I obtained my PhD in the lab of Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga at CeMM (Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences) in Vienna. During my PhD I focused on programmed necrotic cell death, employing chemical screening and mass-spectrometry-based pathway mapping to identify inhibitors and regulators of necroptotic cell death.
In 2017 I moved to the lab of Thijn Brummelkamp, where I am using haploid genetic screening to study disease-relevant signaling pathways.


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Hengel, Lisa van den.jpg

Lisa van den Hengel



After I graduated in Medical Biology at the University of Groningen, I followed a PhD trajectory at the Einthoven Laboratory for Experimental Vascular Medicine at the Leiden University Medical Center. In 2012, I started to work in the Brummelkamp lab where I participate in research projects that focus on the identification of host factors required for viral infection.

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Joppe Nieuwenhuis

Ph.D. student


After obtaining my Masters degree at Utrecht University I joined the Brummelkamp group. During my PhD I aim to find new regulatory components of the currently poorly described Hippo pathway using haploid genetics. Herewith I hope to contribute to our understanding of the role of Hippo signaling in both organ size regulation as well as carcinogenesis.

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Raaben, Matthijs

Matthijs Raaben

Postdoctoral Fellow


Born and raised in the Netherlands, I obtained my Master's degree in Biomedical Sciences from Utrecht University in 2004. I did my PhD, focused on coronavirus-host interactions, at the same University in the Virology group of Peter Rottier.

After graduating in September 2009, I started working in the lab of Sean Whelan at Harvard Medical School in Boston (USA), where I performed research on the cell entry mechanisms exploited by different negative-strand RNA viruses.

In August 2013 I joined the Brummelkamp lab where I am currently using haploid genetic screening technology to uncover new virus entry strategies.

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Jacqueline Staring

Ph.D. student


After finishing my masters degree (Cancer Genomics & Developmental Biology) at Utrecht University I started my PhD training in 2010 in Thijn's lab at the Whitehead Institute and subsequently at the NKI. My main topic of interest is employing haploid genetic screening techniques to identify viral host factors in the human cell.

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Stickel, Elmer

Elmer Stickel

Ph.D. student


In 2016, I obtained my MSc degree in Biomedical Sciences. In addition, as entrepreneur in the field of camera surveillance prior to my studies, I gained experience with processing data & image recognition by developing automated analyses of camera footage. I integrated my affinity with data analysis in my studies. During my first master internship, I analysed WGS data from one hundred neuroblastoma patients to identify unknown predispositions. In my subsequent internship in the Brummelkamp lab I laid the foundation for a database & web-based platform for the visualization & comparison of genetic screens ( I started my PhD in 2017 on a collaborative project between the Brummelkamp and Wessels lab working on the analysis of 'behavioural patterns' of genes using machine learning. The ultimate goal of this project is to build a comprehensive genotype-phenotype map of the human cell.

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Research updates View All Updates

  • Ammodo award for Thijn Brummelkamp

    NKI researcher Thijn Brummelkamp has received an Ammodo Award from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Dutch abbreviation: KNAW). He is one of eight promising Dutch researchers who will receive the award this year. The Ammodo Award aims to stimulate fundamental scientific research and is awarded to researchers who obtained their PhD less than 15 years ago. The award comes with a grant of 300.000 Euro.

    Brummelkamp, who heads a research group within the division of Biochemistry, says he feels 'very honored'. He adds: "Our experiments are expensive. This award will help us to expand our research." Brummelkamp wants to use the funding to study gene-gene interactions that play a role in healthy tissues or in human disease.

  • Marie Curie Fellowship has been awarded to Matthijs Raaben

    Matthijs Raaben, postdoc in the research group of Thijn Brummelkamp, has been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship by the European Union. The fellowship aims to stimulate the career of young, talented researchers within the EU.

Key publications View All Publications

  • Ebola virus entry requires the cholesterol transporter Niemann-Pick C1

    (2011) Nature. Aug 24;477(7364):340-3.

    Carette JE, Raaben M, Wong AC, Herbert AS, Obernosterer G, Mulherkar N, Kuehne AI, Kranzusch PJ, Griffin AM, Ruthel G, Dal Cin P, Dye JM, et al.

    Link to PubMed
  • Haploid genetic screens in human cells identify host factors used by pathogens

    (2009) Science 326,1231-1235

    Carette JE, Guimaraes CP, Varadarajan M, Park AS, Wuethrich I, Godarova A, Kotecki M, Cochran BH, Spooner E, Ploegh HL, Brummelkamp et al.

    Link to PubMed

Recent publications View All Publications

  • Genetic wiring maps of single-cell protein states reveal an off-switch for GPCR signalling

    (2017) Nature. June 8. doi: 10.1038/nature22376.

    Brockmann M, Blomen VA, Nieuwenhuis J, Stickel E, Raaben M, Bleijerveld OB, Altelaar AFM, Jae LT, Brummelkamp TR.

    Link to PubMed
  • PLA2G16 represents a switch between entry and clearance of Picornaviridae

    (2017) Nature. Jan 11. doi: 10.1038/nature21032.

    Staring J, von Castelmur E, Blomen VA, van den Hengel LG, Brockmann M, Baggen J, Thibaut HJ, Nieuwenhuis J, Janssen H, van Kuppeveld FJ,...

    Link to PubMed


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    Mirna Ekelschot - van Diermen

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