“I had cancer when I was little, so I have been motivated to learn more about the inner workings of the human body since I was young. How is it possible that a two-meter long strand of DNA is folded in the exact same way nearly every time in the cell nucleus? Many researchers have been working on this question over time. Twenty years ago, one of them suggested that the DNA is reeled into a loop, allowing the DNA strand to be folded this tightly. It’s comparable to the way mountain climbers use carabiners to create loops in their ropes. My research shows that this is more or less exactly what’s going on here. I developed software that allowed me to analyze what happens when we make this molecular carabiner Cohesin work on the DNA more often, longer, or shorter: the DNA would be folded differently. The wrong kind of folding can lead to various changes to the body, from extra fingers to brain tumors. In my new role at the Hubrecht Institute, I will be looking at DNA through a different lens. I will be studying the way sight has evolved in (nocturnal) animals, and whether we can use this knowledge in therapies.”
Robin will defend his thesis on March 17.
This research was made possible in part by Oncode Institute.
Promotor: prof. dr. B. van Steensel