René Medema - Biography#

Prof. Dr. Medema was appointed associate professor in 1995 at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, became a staff member at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in 2001, and was appointed full professor in Utrecht in 2004.

He made several key contributions to the general understanding of transcriptional control of the cell cycle. He was the first to demonstrate the central role played by FoxO forkhead factors in regulating the G0-G1 transition induced by growth factors and oncogenes like p21ras. Also, his group was the first to demonstrate the importance of FoxM1-mediated transcription in the execution of a proper mitosis, and identified several direct target genes that play an important role in this process.

In the field of cell cycle checkpoints, his lab was the first to describe a role for Plk-1 in the DNA damage response and subsequently demonstrated that Plk-1 is uniquely involved in checkpoint recovery. This discovery opened an entirely new field of research that seeks to understand how a checkpoint-dependent arrest is reverted. It also brought the group in the unique position to subsequently identify the upstream activator of Plk1 that had long eluded many investigators. He is now recognized as a world-leading expert in checkpoint recovery.

In his work on chromosome segregation, he has made several important contributions to our current understanding of the balance in forces that is required to form a stable bipolar spindle. Most notably, work from his group challenged the central dogma that Eg5 was the only motor protein capable of producing the force necessary to separate the centrosomes in human cells. In addition, his group has explored the possibility to exploit the preexisting chromosome instability of tumor cells as an anticancer strategy and identified a unique approach to accomplish this. With these and other studies his group has now also become a significant player in the field of spindle assembly and chromosome segregation.
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