Stem Cells and Organoid Biology

ESR project


Title of project

Intrinsic and extrinsic regulation of hematopoietic stem cell generation

We offered

A 4-year PhD student position in the interdisciplinary area of regenerative medicine and stem cells. The project will focus on the identification of intrinsic and extrinsic regulators of hematopoietic stem cell formation during embryonic development.


The lab of Catherine Robin studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to the production and expansion of hematopoietic stem cells during embryonic development. The Robin lab is embedded in a dynamic and highly interactive research environment with international research groups and direct access to a large number of facilities at the Hubrecht Institute (Uppsalalaan 8, Utrecht, The Netherlands). See also:


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are responsible for all blood cell production throughout life. Defects in HSCs lead to various blood-related disorders and cancers that are in part treated by HSC transplantations. HSC shortage is a major hurdle and efforts have been made to generate HSCs in vitro. However, success in this realm is still very limited because the events promoting HSC production in vivo are largely unknown, and therefore difficult to reproduce in vitro. Located in the bone marrow in adult, HSCs are initially produced in the aorta during embryonic development. HSCs originate from hemogenic endothelial cells that are embedded in the aorta wall. Not all key regulators and signaling pathways involved in endothelial specialization and HSC production have been identified thus far. Using state-of-the-art RNA sequencing approaches, we recently identified several intrinsic and extrinsic HSC regulator candidates.

In this COFUND project, the PhD student will:

  • determine the precise spatial and temporal expression pattern of these regulators in various embryo species.
  • determine the function of the regulator candidates in vivo.
  • determine the mechanism of action of the regulator candidates on HSC generation.

Our research will help to better understand the molecular events controlling HSC formation in vivo, a pre-requisite to improve the in vitro production of HSCs that are needed to treat patients with blood related disorders.

Contact person & more information

Dr Catherine Robin, PhD,


This project is part of RESCUE, a multidisciplinary, intersectoral and interdisciplinary PhD training programme in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells organised by UMC Utrecht (coordinator) and Utrecht University. RESCUE is partly funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND scheme. There are specific requirements with regards to English language and mobility for candidates who would like to take part in this programme. More information