de Laat: Biomedical genomics

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The De Laat group studies genome structure and function in development and disease and develops DNA sequencing methods for improved clinical diagnostics.

Nuclear organisation and gene expression

The mammalian genome contains millions of non-coding sequences with transcriptional regulatory potential, including enhancers, which can activate gene expression, and insulators, which can block enhancer action. A main interest of our work is to understand how this dizzying array of regulatory sequences is functionally wired to the roughly twenty thousand genes present, such that the orchestration of gene expression is properly executed in both time and place, and how faulty wiring of these elements leads to disease.

Key publicationsView all publications

American Journal of Human Genetics 101,1-14.


Cell Stem Cell, 18(5):597-610.


Molecular Cell, 61(3):461-73.


CTCF binding polarity determines chromatin looping.

de Wit E, Vos ESM, [...], de Laat W

Mol. Cell. 60(4):676-84.


Nature Biotechnology 32(10):1019-25.


Nature 501(7466):227-31.


Nature Methods, 9:969-72.


Genes & Dev 20: 2349-2354.


The beta-globin nuclear compartment in development and erythroid differentiation.

Palstra RJ, Tolhuis B, Splinter E, Nijmeijer R, Grosveld F, de Laat W

Nature Genetics 35, 190-194.


Looping and interaction between hypersensitive sites in the active beta-globin locus.

Tolhuis B, Palstra RJ, Splinter E, Grosveld F, de Laat W

Molecular Cell 10: 1453-1465.


Group leader

Wouter de Laat

Wouter de Laat is group leader at the Hubrecht Institute and professor of Biomedical Genomics at University Medical Center Utrecht. His research focuses on two main themes, with a strong emphasis on technology development. One focus is on epigenetics and gene expression; in particular, how the 3D architecture of the genome impacts on transcription regulation. By developing and applying innovative high-throughput technologies he and his team aim to accelerate progress in understanding genome structure-function relationships. The second focus is on clinical diagnostics. His research group develops DNA sequencing technologies for clinical applications, for example for optimized oncogenetic diagnostics and for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis of monogenic diseases.

Scientific training and positions

Current other activities

Group members

Wouter de Laat

Group Leader

Marjon Verstegen


Mark Pieterse


Roel Neijts


Peter Krijger


Geert Geeven


Amin Allahyar


Ruiqi Han


Niels Rinzema

PhD Student

Yike Huang

PhD Student

Sjoerd Tjalsma

PhD Student

Hidde Smits


Teodora Filipovska


Tsvetelina Mladenova


Milad Shademan


Qian Liu


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Open PhD position

Description of the project: The PhD student will be part of ENHPATHY, a multidisciplinary science consortium created in the frame of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA)-ITN-ETN European Training Networks call and regrouping 12 academic and 3 non-academic European organisations in the continuum of basic, translational and clinical research on enhancers and associated diseases. The project will characterize the functioning and impact of novel key topological factors on long-range regulatory and architectural chromatin interactions and hub formation, using state-of-the-art protein depletion, chromatin topology and microscopy technologies.

Requirements: We are seeking outstanding PhD candidates (Master of Science or equivalent qualification) with a strong background in cell biology, genetics and/or bioinformatics. The candidate should be passionate about biology, curious, and motivated to work in an ambitious and collaborative environment. Fluency in English is required. Per EU ETN mobility requirement, the candidate has resided no more than 12 months in the Netherlands in the last 3 years. The application should include a letter of motivation, a CV with two references, and a short summary of your Master thesis.