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Gene Regulation: Benjamin Rowland

Rowland Benjamin Liggend

Benjamin RowlandJr. Group Leader

About Benjamin Rowland

Chromosome organization by SMC complexes
Cells are only a few micrometers in size. Yet during each cell division, four meters of DNA need to be be accurately distributed over the two daughter cells. This incredible feat can take place, and with high precision, thanks to two conserved protein complexes known as cohesin and condensin. Both cohesin and condensin are so-called SMC complexes that by entrapping DNA inside their ring-shaped lumens can structure chromosomes.

Cohesin and condensin each in its own way ensures the fidelity of chromosome segregation. Cohesin holds together the sisters chromatids of each chromosome and resists the pulling forces of microtubules until all all chromosomes are correctly aligned at the metaphase plate. Then the abrupt cleavage of cohesin rings triggers the synchronous segregation of sister chromatids to the opposite poles of the cell. Condensin in turn is important for chromosome condensation. This process is required to ensure that chromosomes are shortened enough to allow the splitting in half of the cell during cytokinesis without DNA getting caught in the middle. Cohesin also plays a major role in the 3D organization of interphase chromosomes.

Research in our lab centres on the mode of action of cohesin and condensin. How do these complexes entrap and release DNA? How does condensin drive mitotic chromosome condensation? And how does cohesin contribute to the formation of the often megabase-sized loops that shape interphase chromosomes? These are the kind of questions that keep us awake at night and drive our research. We are addressing such questions using a combination of genetics, genomics, biochemistry and imaging, using both budding yeast and human cells.

Positions available
We are recruiting. We have Postdoc, PhD student, Technician and Master student positions available. If you are interested in joining our lab, please send an enquiring email including your CV and motivation to Benjamin Rowland (b.rowland AT


Elbatsh, Ahmed.jpg

Ahmed Elbatsh

Postdoctoral Fellow


My PhD was commenced in January 2012, under supervision of Dr. Benjamin Rowland. My project's theme is focusing on how cohesin dissociates from DNA and the critical factors mediating this process. I am addressing these questions using the state-of-the-art- genetics with advanced microscopy and various biochemical approaches.

I have earned my Master's degree in drug innovation from Utrecht University after I was granted the Utrecht Excellence Scholarship. During my master's, I completed two internships, in the lab of Dr. Alfred Schinkel in the NKI and in the lab of Dr. Steven Pollard in University College London Cancer institute.

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Haarhuis, Judith.jpg

Judith Haarhuis

Postdoctoral Fellow


During my study Cancer, Genomics and Developmental Biology at Utrecht University I went for an intership to the group of prof. dr. K. Cimprich at Stanford University to study DNA Damage in Xenopus extracts.

After that I joined the lab of Benjamin Rowland as a PhD student. Here I study how sister chromatid cohesion is being regulated during cell division using yeast and human cell lines as a model organism.

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van Ruiten, Marjon

Marjon van Ruiten

PhD Student


In 2016 I started my PhD in the group of Benjamin Rowland. Within the group we are interested in the role of SMC complexes in chromosome organization. More specifically, I study the mechanism by which cohesin mediates the formation of chromatin loops.
I have earned my Master's degree in biomedical sciences at Utrecht University, where I was enrolled in the program "Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology". I performed my first internship in the lab of Benjamin Rowland. My second internship took place in the lab of David Langenau at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

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Garcia Nieto, Alberto

Alberto García Nieto

PhD Student


During my Master studies in Human Biology at the University of Copenhagen, I had the opportunity to work with Prof. Anja Groth, understanding the histone replication machinery. Afterwards, I also performed an internship in the lab of Prof. Janine Erler.
In 2017, I started my PhD in the group of Benjamin Rowland. My project focusses on Condensin and its regulation and on how this complex compacts chromatin.

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Research updates View All Updates

  • ERC Consolidator Grant awarded to Benjamin

    Benjamin was recently awarded a prestigious ERC Consolidator grant to investigate the mechanism by which cohesin structures interphase chromosomes.

  • Boehringer Ingelheim PhD fellowship Marjon van Ruiten

    Marjon was recently awarded a highly competitive PhD fellowship from the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds. This fellowship will support Marjon to study the mechanism by which chromatin loops are formed.


Key publications View All Publications

  • Cohesin and its regulation: On the logic of X-shaped chromosomes

    Dev. Cell 2014; 31:7-18

    Haarhuis JH, Elbatsh AM, Rowland BD

  • WAPL-mediated removal of cohesin protects against segregation errors and aneuploidy

    Curr. Biol. 2013; 23:2071-2077.

    Haarhuis JH, Elbatsh AM, van den Broek B, Camps D, Erkan H, Jalink K, Medema RH, Rowland BD


Recent publications View All Publications

  • The cohesin release factor WAPL restricts chromatin loop extension

    Cell 2017 May 4;169(4):693-707

    Haarhuis JH, van der Weide RH, Blomen VA, Yáñez-Cuna JO, Amendola M, van Ruiten MS, Krijger PH, Teunissen H, Medema RH, van Steensel...

  • Cohesin releases DNA through asymmetric ATPase-driven ring opening

    Mol. Cell 2016; 61:575-588

    Elbatsh AM, Haarhuis JH, Petela N, Chapard C, Fish A, Celie PH, Stadnik M, Ristic D, Wyman C, Medema RH, Nasmyth K, Rowland BD



  • Office manager

    Mariet van den Berg

  • E-mail

  • Telephone Number

    +31 20 512 9184

Van den Berg, Mariet


'Research for the benefit of cancer patients'

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