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Belderbos group

The mission of our group is to unravel the basic mechanisms by which human hematopoietic stem cells (re-)generate blood, and to translate this knowledge into clinical therapies to improve hematopoiesis in children with intrinsic or acquired bone marrow failure, or in those undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT).

Group leader: Dr. Mirjam Belderbos
Phone 088-9727272

Hematopoietic stem cells

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are responsible for the production of all mature blood cell types throughout life, generating billions of mature blood cells each day. Aside from their role in homeostatic hematopoiesis, HSCs are crucial to regenerate the hematopoietic system upon myeloablative challenge, such as chemotherapy or transplantation.

Understanding human hematopoietic stem cell biology requires innovative research in human subjects Dr. Mirjam Belderbos - Group leader
Single-cell analysis of bone marrow regeneration in humans

To understand how a relatively small number of HSCs (re-)generate the entire hematopoietic system, our group integrates state-of-the-art single cell methods with clinical data and primary patient samples. The lab is currently investigating how transplanted HSCs regenerate each of the blood lineages, and whether/how transplantation affects the composition and functional integrity of the stem cell pool. In addition, we aim to determine how common transplantation-related exposures, such as proliferative stress, inflammation and ageing, affect stem cell function. Technologies used include single-cell RNA sequencing, CITE-seq, RNAFlex, and spatial transcriptomics. Understanding how transplanted HSCs regenerate the hematopoietic system is relevant to improve the outcome of HCT and will contribute to stem cell-based theraies in general. 

Long-term integrity of hematopoiesis in stem cell transplantation survivors

HCT is the first and most commonly applied type of stem cell therapy in humans. Every year, over 40.000 patients undergo HCT, as a curative therapy for various diseases, including high-risk leukemia. Due to improved treatment protocols, the number of HCT survivors and their life expectancy continue to increase. It is yet unknown how tranplanted HSCs maintain their life-long integrity. To address this question, our lab leads an ongoing clinical/translational trial in long-term HCT survivors. By integrating clinical data and molecular features of hematopoiesis in these patients, we aim to define critical determinants that guide HSC longevity after HCT, which might be targeted therapeutically. 

Origins of pediatric bone marrow failure and myelodysplasia

Our group also focuses on the origins and mechanisms of HSC dysfunction in pediatric bone marrow failure. Using single-cell sequencing strategies, we aim to define which hematopoietic cell populations are involved in the pathogenesis of bone marrow failure and myelodysplasia, and characterize the genomic pathways active within these cells. Ultimately, we envision that this will contribute to novel strategies to predict the occurrence of bone marrow failure/myelodysplasia, allowing for targeted intervention and preventive measures.

Our team

Our group consists of a multidisciplinary team, with wet-lab biologists, bioinformaticians and clinical researchers. The group is led by dr. Mirjam Belderbos, MD, PhD. Next to her scientific activities, dr. Belderbos works as a pediatric oncologist in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Core values in our group are collaboration, curiosity and clinical impact. 


Belderbos group