Christine Mummery

Biography

Christine Mummery studied physics at the University of Nottingham, UK and has a PhD in Biophysics from the University of London. After positions as postdoc and tenured group leader at the Hubrecht Institute, she became professor at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in 2002. After a sabbatical at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in 2007, she introduced human iPS cells to the Netherlands.  In 2008, she became Professor of Developmental Biology at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and head of the Department of Anatomy and Embryology. Her research concerns heart development and the differentiation of pluripotent human stem cells into the cardiac and vascular lineages and using these cells as disease models, for safety pharmacology and drug discovery.  Immediate interests are on developing biophysical techniques for characterization and functional analysis of cardiovascular cells from hPSC.  In 2015 she became guest professor at the Technical University of Twente to develop organ-on-chip models. She was recently awarded a multimillion grant for this purpose and is awardee of a prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grant.

She is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Science (KNAW), and former board member of the International Society of Stem Cell research (ISSCR), the KNAW and the Netherlands Medical Research Council (ZonMW). She was recently awarded the Hugo van de Poelgeest Prize for Animal Alternatives in research. She co-authored a popular book on stem cells “Stem Cells: scientific facts and Fiction” (2nd edition 2014) and is editor in chief of the ISSCR journal Stem Cell Reports.  She is also on the editorial boards of Cell Stem Cell, Cardiovascular Research and Stem Cells.

Cardiovascular diseases and drugs: where are we with hiPSC models?

Derivation of cardiovascular cell types from human pluripotent stem cells is an area of growing interest as a platform for drug discovery and toxicity. Most particularly, the recent availability of methods to introduce specific disease mutations into human pluripotent stem cells and/or to derive these cells as hiPS cells by reprogramming from any patient of choice, are creating unprecedented opportunities to create disease models “in a dish” and study ways to treat it or slow down its rate of development. Most recently our lab has been investigating organs on chip solutions in which multiple cardiac and vascular cell types into microtissue formats. Crucial has been methods to promote cardiomyocyte maturation and to quantify the outcomes of drug and disease mutation responses in situ. The use of isogenic pairs has proven very important since variability between “healthy control” hiPSC lines is often greater than the difference between a diseased cells and its isogenic control.  We have shown that iPSC derived cardiomyocytes with mutations in ion channel genes can accurately predict changes in cardiac electrical properties and reveal drug sensitivities also observed in patients.