Welcome to the lab!
Since the landmark publication of the first human genome sequence in 2001, tremendous efforts have been made by large cancer genomics initiatives such as the TCGA or ICGC, to map mutations in tens of thousands of primary cancer samples. Still, until today the functional consequences of the vast majority of the identified cancer-associated mutations remain unknown. This is where our lab comes in... connecting the dots between genotypes and phenotypes. We use state-of-the-art genome engineering technologies, to introduce genetic perturbations into human cancer cells, followed by the study of the resulting phenotypes. Conceptually, this approach is not new; in fact loss-of-function (LOF) and gain-of-function (GOF) experiments have been conducted for decades, to study gene function in model organisms - but only the recent discovery of CRISPR makes it possible, to now conduct such powerful studies in human cells. Using systematic LOF/GOF approaches, we aim to identify genes that drive oncogenesis and cancer therapy resistance. Since cancer usually is caused by multiple mutations accumulated over a lifetime, we do not study these perturbations in isolation, but rather use combinatorial genome engineering, to study the functional dependencies between them. We expect that our systematic perturbation approaches will make an important contribution towards closing the knowledge gap between cancer-associated genotypes and phenotypes, and that thereby we will advance the discovery of predictive biomarkers and novel treatment avenues for therapy resistant cancer patients.