Henk Stunnenberg

The focus of the department is on the molecular basis of development and differentiation
emanating from the genome and epigenome in the context of health and disease with emphasis
on cancer. The major focus is on the regulatory networks in human and mouse as well as
Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria.
State-of-the-art technological developments are applied ranging from single molecule studies
to genome wide elucidation of genetic and epigenetic pathways and mechanisms. The lack of
a quantitative framework around the dynamics of the epigenome and its determinants
represents a major hurdle for the translation of epigenetic observations into regulatory
models, for the identification of associations between epigenotypes and diseases and the
subsequent development of an entire new class of compounds for their prevention and
Next Generation Sequencing platforms are routinely used to analyse transcription factor binding sites, 3D structure, epigenetic marks, DNA-methylation and RNA transcriptomes at a comprehensive genome wide scale. Moreover, over the recent years, we set up a state-of-the-art quantitative mass-spectrometry based proteomics facility to integrate epigenomics and proteomics approaches. In depths analysis of the genome wide data is performed and sustained by our own bioinformatic team.

Current projects

The department of Molecular Biology participates in a number of international consortia tackling pathways and molecular mechanisms in lineage commitment of (embryonic) stem cells and pluripotency (GENCODYS) and cancer (BASIS, ICGC) and method development. Moreover, the department contributes to the SYSCOL project (a systems biology approach of colorectal cancer).

Stunnenberg is the coordinator of the BLUEPRINT consortium that aims at generating at least 100 reference epigenomes and studying them to advance and exploit knowledge of the underlying biological processes and mechanisms in health and disease. BLUEPRINT focuses on distinct types of haematopoietic cells from healthy individuals and on their malignant leukaemic counterparts. Reference epigenomes will be generated by state-of-the-art technologies from highly purified cells
for a comprehensive set of epigenetic marks.


Since 1996, Henk Stunnenberg is full professor and head of the Department of Molecular Biology of the Radboud University and the Radboud Medical Centre.
He obtained his PhD in Genetics at the University of Wageningen (NL) and after a post-doc at
the University of Zürich (CH), he fulfilled positions as group leader at Hoffmann-LaRoche (CH)
and at the Gene Expression Program at EMBL (Heidelberg, DE). He is a member of EMBO since 1994.
In 2011 he was appointed as Research Director of RIMLS/Faculty of Science.

Professor Stunnenberg is coordinator of the EU FP7 High Impact Project BLUEPRINT (the BLUEPRINT of Haematopoietic Epigenomes) that runs from 2011-2016 (www.blueprint-epigenome.eu) and currently he is Chair of the International Scientific Steering Committee of the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC).

National & International Personal Prizes & Awards

2013: ERC Advanced Grant of € 2.5 million for his project ‘SysStemCell’.