Christine Mummery - Biography#

Christine Mummery's primary interest concerns cardiac and vascular development and differentiation of pluripotent stem cells to cells of the cardiovascular system. The interest derives from a long-standing fascination on how differentiation choices are made in development and the roles played by growth factors, particularly members of the TGFß superfamily. Her group discovered the importance of TGFß signalling in controlling vasculogenesis in development and later showed that this growth factor family also induced mesoderm differentiation and subsequent patterning of cardiomyogenesis. Her physics background lead to an interest in characterizing the electrical properties of PSC-derived cardiomyocytes and their potential use in cardiac repair. With the development of human iPS cells by reprogramming somatic cells from patients, her enthusiasm for potential clinical applications grew, particularly in using these cells to identify drug sensitivities and ways correct disease phenotypes.

After a sabbatical in Harvard's Stem Cell Institute, she moved her group to Leiden University Medical Centre in 2008 to put this in a clinical context and collaboration with clinical cardiologists continues to expand. In addition, other mesodermal derivatives, endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells take a central role in her research, again in a clinical setting where she studies a hemorrhaging disease (HHT) caused by mutations in TGFß receptors. Clinical collaborators discovered that Thalidomide reduced the incidence of hemorrhage in HHT patients and by combining this with knowledge of vasculogenesis in development she revealed one important mechanism underlying the therapeutic effect of Thalidomide. This is now being prescribed to patients and a larger European clinical trial is pending. Through collaboration with clinicians in Leiden and Amsterdam and engineers at the tecchnical universities in Twente and Delft , she is currently implementing methods for creating synthetic 2-D and 3-D normal and (genetically) diseased vascular and myocardial tissue. This is part of an ERC Advanced grant. In 2015, she will be appointed guest professor at the TU Twente to explore microfluidic and "organ on chip" models further.

She is presently founding editor in chief of Stem Cell Reports, the journal of the International Society of Stem Cell Research and on the editorial boards of Cell Stem Cell, Stem Cells, Molecular Therapy and Differentiation, among others.
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