Paul Coffer, PhD

GROUP LEADER

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Paul Coffer studied Biochemistry at Oxford University and obtained his PhD from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in London, UK. Here, in the lab of Prof. James Woodgett, he identified Protein Kinase B (PKB/c-akt), a novel player in intracellular signal transduction.

He subsequently relocated to the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, The Netherlands, for a postdoc. This research was involved in investigating the mechanisms by which hematopoietic cytokines can regulate gene expression through transcription factor phosphorylation. At this time, together with Prof. Boudewijn Burgering (Molecular Cancer Research, University Medical Center Utrecht), he also demonstrated that PKB was a critical mediator of growth factor-mediated signal transduction.

Hereafter he moved to the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the University Medical Centre Utrecht to initiate his own research group. During this period, work focused on studying the role of intracellular signal transduction pathways in regulating both the production and function of innate immune cells. A particular focus of this research was in determining signal specificity between hematopoietic cytokines. Work in his group also demonstrated that PKB-mediated phosphorylation of Forkhead transcription factors (FOXO) was critical for the regulation of immune cell proliferation and survival. These studies laid the groundwork for his further research into the regulation of hematopoietic cell-fate decisions.

In 2005 Paul Coffer was appointed Professor of Pediatric Immunology at the University Medical Centre Utrecht and moved to the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital where he worked within the Department of Immunology together with close collaboration with the Department of Pediatric Immunology. Here research was expanded to include study not only of hematopoietic stem cell function, but also mesenchymal stem cells. Furthermore, a new research line investigating the control of regulatory T cell (Treg) function was initiated. This is focused on understanding the post-translational modifications regulating Foxp3 activity, a transcription factor critical for Treg development and function.

In 2011 he moved to the Department of Cell Biology at the Center for Molecular Medicine (UMC Utrecht) where he was appointed Professor of Cell Biology. Here work investigating the role of the SOX4 transcription factor in mammary tumor metastasis was initiated. 

From 2013-2014 worked at the Memoral Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York, USA) as a visiting professor in the Rudensky Lab. At the end of 2015 the Coffer Lab moved to the UMC Utrecht Regenerative Medicine Center location at the Hubrecht Institute where work continues to understand transcriptional regulation in cell biology and disease. He is currently also chair of the Utrecht University PhD program "Regenerative Medicine". 

Current work in his research group is focused on applying this fundamental research to the study of cancer, autoimmunity and regenerative medicine.

Research interests

Stem cells, regenerative medicine, cancer, immunology, autoimmune diseases, receptors, hematopoiesis, signal transduction, transcription factors, kinases, post-translational modifications, epigenetics, metabolism, autophagy, metastasis, epigenetics

 

click here for a full list of publications

Professional career

1988-1991: PhD study at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in London, UK (Supervisor: Prof. J. Woodgett).

1992-1995: Postdoctoral fellow at the Hubrecht Laboratory for Developmental Biology & Stem Cell Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 

1995-1998. Principle Investigator at the Department of Pulmonary Diseases, University Medical Center Utrecht. The Netherlands.

1998-2001. Assistant Professor at the Department of Pulmonary Diseases, University Medical Center Utrecht. The Netherlands.

2000. Visiting Scientist at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison. USA.

2001-2004. Associate Professor at the Department of Pulmonary Diseases, University Medical Center Utrecht. The Netherlands.

2005-2010. Professor of Pediatric Immunology at the Department of Immunology and Division of Pediatrics, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.

2009-2010. Interim Head of Department at the Department of Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.

2011-current. Professor of Cell Biology at the Center for Molecular Medicine of the University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.

2013-2014 Visiting Professor. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA.

 

Financial support

1996 Dutch Asthma Foundation (NAF) grant (with Leo Koenderman)

1997 Dutch Asthma Foundation (NAF) grant (with Leo Koenderman)

1999 Netherlands Cancer Society (NKB/KWF) grant

2000 Dutch Scientific Organisation (NWO) grant (with Rene Medema and BoudewijnBurgering)

2001 Dutch Scientific Organisation (NWO) VIDI grant

2002 Netherlands Cancer Society (NKB/KWF) grant (with Edo Vellenga)

2004 Netherlands Cancer Society (NKB/KWF) grant

2005 Lansteiner Organisation for Blood Transfusion (LSBR) grant (with Linde Meyaard)

2008 Dutch Reumatology Foundation (ReumaFonds) grant

2009 Center for Translational Molecular Medicine (OncoKinase consortium) grant

2010 European Research Projects on Rare Diseases (E-RARE SCN consortium) grant

2011 Netherlands Institute for Regenerative Medicine (FES consortium) grant

2011 Netherlands Cancer Society (NKB/KWF) grant (with Edo Vellenga)

2012 Marie Curie International Training Network (EUTRAIN consortium) grant

2013 Netherlands Cancer Society (NKB) grant (with Patrick Derksen)

2013 Dutch Reumatology Foundation (ReumaFonds) grant (with Magdalena Lorenowicz)

2015 Netherlands Cancer Society (NKB/KWF) grant (with Jacco van Rheenen)

2016 Dutch Reumatology Foundation (ReumaFonds) grant

 

PhD Supervision

Regulation of Fc-receptors on human eosinophils. (Dr. Madelon Bracke, 1999)

Specificity in cytokine and chemokine mediated signal transduction. (Dr. Neils Geijsen, 2000)

Regulation of proliferation and survival by the IL-5/IL-3/GM-CSF cytokine family. (Dr. Pascale Dijkers, 2001)

Regulation of granulocyte differentiation and function (Dr. Sandra Verploegen, 2002)

Analysis of granulocyte signal transduction and effector functions in COPD (Dr. Evert Nijhuis, 2003)

Molecular mechanisms regulating granulopoiesis (Dr. Miranda Buitenhuis, 2004)

Characterisation and antagonism of cytokine-priming of human granulocytes. (Dr. Marcela Rosas, 2006)

Regulation of survival and proliferation by PI3K-PKB signalling (Dr. Ankie van Gorp, 2007)

Mechanisms of inflammation in periodic fever syndromes (Dr. Loes Kuijk, 2008)

Characterisation of signalling defects in adult myelodysplasia (Dr. Christian Geest, 2009)

Functional specificity of FOXO transcription factors (Dr. Kristan van der Vos, 2010)

Function and Ontogeny of human T-regulatory cells in vivo (Dr. Yvonne Vercoulen, 2010)

Inhibitory immune receptors as regulators of hematopoiesis (Dr. Tessa Steevels, 2011)

Molecular mechanisms regulating FOXP3 function (Dr. Jorg van Loosdregt, 2011) cum laude

Cytokine-mediated signalling regulating dendritic cell development (Dr. Lianne van de Laar, 2011)

HDAC inhibitors: towards novel therapies for pediatric MDS (Dr. Marije Bartels, 2014)

Post-translational modifications regulating FOXP3 function (Dr. Veerle Fleskens, 2014)

18. Role of Sox4 in transformation and metastasis (Dr. Stephin Vervoort, 2015)

Role of autophagy in modulating hemtopoiesis (Dr. Catalina Gomez-Puerto, 2016)

Transcriptional regulation of neurogenesis (Dr. Luca Braccioli, 2017)

Role of Sox4 in transformation and metastasis (Dr. Ana-Rita Lourenco, 2017)

Identification and characeterization of orphan autoimmune diseases (Desiree Visser, thesis defence November 2017)

Understanding the role of autophagy in Treg biology (Janneke Peeters, until 2018)

Manipulation of the bone marrow microenvironment in MDS (Anita Govers, until 2018)