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Meet Elaine Dzierzak, Ph.D., ISEH president-elect and 2012 Scientific Program Committee chair.

Posted By ISEH Headquarters, Saturday, January 21, 2012

ISEH President-Elect Values Society Collaboration

Elaine Dzierzak, Ph.D.
Erasmus Medical Center
Erasmus Stem Cell Institute
Rotterdam, Netherlands

ISEH President-Elect Elaine Dzierzak, Ph.D., is professor of developmental biology in the department of Cell Biology at Erasmus University  and director of the Erasmus Medical Center Stem Cell Institute. As noted in the Annual Scientific Meeting article above, she is also chair of the 2012 Scientific Program Committee tasked with delivering this important meeting.

Not a problem for a woman whose career track has taken her to several countries and numerous prestigious institutions working within various disciplines.

"I initially started my research career as an immunologist,” Dzierzak explains. "My Ph.D. work at Yale University (New Haven, CT, USA) was on immunoglobulin specificity and idiotypes. These studies introduced me to mouse genetics. From there, I went on to do research on retroviral mediated gene delivery at the Whitehead Institute (Cambridge, MA, USA). By using in vivo mouse models of hematopoiesis, I found that the difficulty in most therapeutic approaches to hematopoietic disease is in the manipulation and expansion of hematopoietic stem cells. This gave me the idea of looking towards developmental processes to establish how hematopoietic stem cells are made in the embryo.”

Dzierzak was the first to demonstrate the expression of a retrovially transduced therapeutic gene in hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) after bone marrow stem cell transplantation. After moving to the National Institute for Medical Research (London), she changed the long-held textbook dogma of the yolk sac origins of the adult hematopoietic system, showing that adult-type HSCs are generated from the embryonic aorta.

"Since we have demonstrated that hematopoietic stem cells are generated from hemogenic endothelium, our current studies focus on identifying the sequential expression of a number of pivotal transcription factors in the hemogenic endothelium and the downstream targets that are involved in the endothelial to hematopoietic transition,” she continues. "We will do this through our advanced embryo imaging methods and new mouse marker/mutant models.”

The ISEH Annual Scientific Meeting is among the important stimuli to her scientific work. It is also the place where she gets some ideas on meeting the challenges of her professional life – how to balance one’s personal and professional life and how to address the funding challenges due to the global economic crisis.

"For me the annual ISEH meeting is an extremely important conference,” she says. "I see many of my closest collaborators and colleagues, and I meet many young researchers. It is an energizing meeting that stimulates new ideas and an urgency to get back to the lab to start new experiments. I particularly enjoy the poster sessions, scientific and social interactions and the banquet, where I can dance with the students, postdocs and former ISEH presidents, especially dancing with whoever comes out on the dance floor like Thalia (Papayannopoulou) and Toshio (Suda).”

Music is important to Dzierzak.

"When not involved in science, I enjoy listening to music and going to concerts with my family and friends; we are big Bob Dylan fans,” she offers. "I also love to cook, especially with fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits when we are in the South of France for our holidays.”

Look for Elaine Dzierzak on the dance floor in Amsterdam. Or, connect with her now through the ISEH member database. Click here to learn more about her or to build your personal profile. You can also learn more about the Erasmus Medical Center Stem Cell Institute.

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