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Inspiratie door blikwisseling | Inspiration by change of perspective

Bert van der Horst

Bert vd Horst

Bert van der Horst is a professor chronobiologie en gezondheid aan de EMC Erasmus MC Rotterdam.

Gijsbertus T.J. VAN DER HORST
PROFESSOR IN GENETICS (CHAIR “CHRONOBIOLOGY AND HEALTH”)
Address: Erasmus University Medical Center, Department of Genetics, Room EE 07-42
PO Box 2040, 3000CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Phone no.: +31-10-7043201/199
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Bert van der Horst received his PhD in Cell Biology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in 1993, where he studied the lysosomal enzyme sialidase. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Genetics, Erasmus MC, he has generated and characterised a large panel of (conditional) animal models for DNA repair disorders, associated with skin cancer predisposition and/or premature aging (e.g. Cockayne syndrome1), as well as for mammalian homologs of the repair protein photolyase (mCry1 and mCry2)2. Unexpectedly, the mCry genes were shown to encode indispensable components of the biological clock, a major breakthrough in the field of chronobiology. For the latter work he received a prestigious ZonMW Vici award that stood at the basis of a new research line in the Department, focusing on the molecular mechanism and biological impact of the circadian system. Research highlights include (i) the use of photolyase transgenic mice to pinpoint cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers as the major cause of UV-induced apoptosis (sunburn) and skin tumor formation3, (ii) establishing a link between defective DNA repair and premature aging, including a survival response involving systemic suppression of the GH/IGF1 axis and oxidative metabolism, along with an increased antioxidant defense4, and (iii) the demonstration that DNA damage can reset the circadian clock5.

Research  By integrating running research lines on the circadian clock, genome instability and aging in a new multidisciplinary research direction, and by applying state of the art technology (i.e. conditional mouse models, transcriptomics, miRNA profiling, in vivo imaging in cells, tissues and animals), he aims at obtaining fundamental knowledge on the mechanism and biological/medical impact of the circadian system, with emphasis on the (bidirectional) relation between the circadian system on the one hand, and the origin of cancer and the aetiology of age-related disorders on the other hand. Ultimate goal is to translate this knowledge into applications to prevent or delay onset of aforementioned disorders (preventive intervention) and into new clinical approaches in cancer and other drug-based therapies (chronotherapy).

Bert van der Horst holds 3 patents and was co-founder of DNage, a biotech start-up founded in 2004 as a spin off from the Department of Genetics, Erasmus MC.

Selected key publications:
1. van der Horst, G.T.J., van Steeg, H., Berg, R.J.W., van Gool, A.J., de Wit, J., Weeda, G., Morreau, H., Beems, R.B., van Kreijl, C.F., de Gruijl, F.R., Bootsma, D. and Hoeijmakers, J.H.J. (1997) Defective transcription-coupled repair in Cockayne syndrome B mice is associated with skin cancer predisposition. Cell  89:425-435.
2. van der Horst, G.T.J., Muijtjens, M., Kobayashi, K., Takano, R., Kanno, S., Takao, M., de Wit, J., Verkerk, A., Eker, A.P.M., van Leenen, D., Buijs, R., Bootsma, D., Hoeijmakers, J.H.J., and Yasui, A. (1999) Mammalian blue-light photoreceptor homologs CRY1 and CRY2 are essential for maintenance of circadian rhythms. Nature 398:627-630 Addressed in  Nature 398 "News and Views" section, pg. 557-558 and Science 284 "News" section pg. 421-422.
3. Jans, J., Schul, W., Sert, Y.G., Rijksen, Y., Rebel, H., Eker, A.P., Nakajima, S., van Steeg, H., de Gruijl, F.R., Yasui, A., Hoeijmakers, J.H.J., and van der Horst, G.T.J. (2005). Powerful skin cancer protection by a CPD-photolyase transgene. Curr. Biol. 15:105-115. Addressed in Curr. Biol. "Dispatch" section, pg. R58. 
4. van der Pluijm, I.,Garinis, G.A., Brandt, R., Gorgels, T.G.M.F., Diderich, K.E.M., Mitchell, J.R., van Steeg, H., van Oostrom, C., Beems, R.B., Niedernhofer, L.J., Friedberg, E.C., Tanaka, K., Hoeijmakers, J.H.J., and van der Horst, G.T.J. (2007) Premature aging mice link impaired genome maintenance with IGF1/GH suppression. PLoS Biol. 5:23-38.
5. Oklejewicz, M., Destici, E., Tamanini, F., Hut, R.A., Janssens, R., and van der Horst, G.T.J. (2008) Phase resetting of the mammalian circadian clock by DNA damage. Curr. Biol. 18:286-291. Addressed in Nature Reviews Cancer 8, pg. 250-251.