Developmental Biology

a worm

News Blog

Review in Genetics


In this review they focus on the regulation of the cell cycle in the context of C. elegans development, with reference to other systems, with the goal of better understanding how cell cycle regulation is linked to animal development in general.

Review in Current Opinion in System Biology


Sanne and Mike review the state of interactome mapping in C. elegans,and discuss recent developments that arelikely to improve protein interaction mapping efforts inthis organism in the coming years

Happy Holidays

Our yearly Christmas dinner took as usual place at Sander and Inge’s place in Bilthoven. The traditional potpourrie dinner including a huge turkey made by Sander was a big succes. This year we also started a new tradition…the ugly Christmas sweater tradition.


Goodbye Jana !!

We said goodbye and thank you to Jana with a lovely borrel. Jana worked in our lab for several years in the boxem group. She saw plenty of students, PhDs and Postdocs joining and leaving the lab. Now it was her time as she decided to retire and enjoy her passion for traveling and visiting her family living abroad. Thank you Jana for all your good work and lets keep in touch.


Welcome Jorian !!

Jorian Sepers joined the Boxem group as a PhD student. Jorian did his B.Sc in Biology and his M.Sc in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences at the Utrecht University. He has previous been a student in the Boxem group doing research on the isoforms of PAR-3 and PAR-6 in C. elegans epithelia. For a second intershipt he went to the Lab of David Bilder at University of California Berkeley and investigated polarity deficient ovarian tumors in Drosophila melanogaster flies.


Congratulations Dr. Ben Nelemans

Ben succesfully defended his thesis "Exploring mechanobiology of somie formation in the chicken embryo".


Left: Ben just before he gets his degree and Right: The cover of his PhD booklet.

Congratulations Dr. Lars Fielmich

Lars succesfully defended his thesis "Pullin apart mitotic spindel positioning in C. elegans early embryo".


Left: Lars gave a presentation about his PhD work to colleagues,friends and family. Right: Cover of his PhD booklet.

Welcome Jason!!

Jason Kroll joined the Boxem group as a Posdoctoral fellow. Jason did his PhD at the Universiy of California in the Department of Moelcular and Cell Biology working on genetic suppression of epilepsy and seizures in Drosophila. Afterword he did a Post Doc on cell fate decisions in C. elegans in the group of Jeroen van Zon at AMOLF.


Publication in Elife


Spindle positioning is driven by dynein-mediated pulling forces exerted on astral microtubules, which requires an evolutionarily conserved complex .To examine individual functions of the complex components, we developed a genetic strategy for light-controlled localization of endogenous proteins in C. elegans embryos. Fielmich and Schmidt were able to define one part of the complex as a regulatable membrane anchor, and a second part as a potent activator of dynein-dependent spindle-positioning forces.

EMBO workshop C. elegans Developmental, Cell Biology and Gene expression & European C.elegans meeting 2018


A large part of our group joined the bi-annual meetings in Barcelona. During the 5-day meeting we could share our research projects and results in presentation and poster sessions. All participants were impressed and came back with plenty of input and new ideas.

CSND (Cancel and Stem Cells developmental Biology) PhD retreat 2018


The yearly 3-day meeting is organized from for PhD students. This year Amalia was in the organizing committee and set up a schedule full of (poster, laptop) presentation combined with fun activities like an obstacle bouncing castle.

Welcome Ben!!

Ben Nelemans joined the Developmental Biology department to support the teaching crew.


Publication in PNAS

Lars _japan

Mutations in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) are frequently associated with colorectal cancers in humans. As its role in stabilizing microtubules during cell division is largely unknown, live imaging, laser microsurgery, and numerical simulation were performed. Together with the group of Hitoshi Sawa Fielmich document a mechanical role for the APC protein and provides a physical basis for spindle-pulling force attenuation.

Review in Journal of Molecular Biology

Review Helena

Protein interactions are central to the control of cell polarity. Several interactions have been identiefied, however the underlaying dynamics and molecular mechanismto control these interaction are not well understood. Particular helpful are systemactic large-scale protein-protein interaction mapping approaches. Pires and Boxem discuss commonly used methods used to generate proteome-wide interactome maps.

Welcome Sanne!!

Sanne Remmelzwaal joined the Boxem group as a PhD student. We wish you a good start and a succesful time.


Welcome Amir!!

Amir Homavar joined the van den Heuvel group as a PhD student. We wish you a good start and a succesful time.


Publication in JCB- The Journal of Cell Biology

Ruben Publication

In animal cells the position of the mitotic spindle is tightly regulated as it determines the plane and orientation of cell devision. Using fluorescently labelled endogenous proteins Schmidt and Co-worker show that dynein exists in two distinct cortical populations indicating the excisting of two mechanism that together create a highly robust force-genertating system.

21st International C.elegans Conference 2017


Joao , Molly , Suzanne , Lars ,and Mike attented the bi-annual genetics meeting of C.elegans. Suzanne and Lars were chosen to present their data in form of a presentation (picture bottom row). Joao and Molly presented their data during the Poster session. Guided were the busy and long days by a conference dinnner/party and a baseball game

Dinner with Geraldine Seydoux

Geraldine Seydoux

Geraldine Seydoux was invited to give a Seminar at the Cancer, Stem Cell and Developmental Biology PhD and Master programme . Her lab wants to understand how single cell eggs develop into complex multicellular embryo. In the evening she joined our group for dinner at the yearly POP-up restaurant de Maaltuin at the botanical garden.

EMBO Meeting 2017 Cell Polarity and membrane dynamics 2017



Amalia , Victoria , Helena and Mike joined the EMBO meeting. While the Helena, Victoria and Amalia presented their data during the Poster session, Mike gave an presentation about Regulation of ERM proteins

Positions available

PhD and PostDoc positions have become available in the group of Mike Boxem. Click here for details.

Award for Suzanne van der Horst at the meeting of the Dutch Society for Stem Cell Research 2017


04-11-2017: Suzanne won the 2nd price with her presentation "Understanding a stem cell divison pattern in C. elegans". She was rewarded with a 500€ travel grant. Congratulations!

Vici Grant for Mike Boxem


02-17-2017: Mike Boxem was awarded an NWO Vici Grant for his proposal "Deciphering the systems that control epithelial cell polarity". Congratulations!

ZonMW Top Grant for Sander van den Heuvel


02-03-2017: Sander van den Heuvel (UU Developmental Biology), Casper Hoogenraad (UU Cell Biology), and Eva van Rooij (Hubrecht Institute) were awarded a ZonMW TOP Grant for their proposal "Cell division arrest and self-renewal potential of differentiated neurons and heart muscle cells". Congratulations!

Molly wins EMBO Long-Term Fellowship Award

Molly Godfrey, who joined our group this year as a Postdoc succesfully applied for the EMBO Long-Term fellowship. Congratulation Molly, we are very proud of you.

Molly's project will deepen our knowledge of the regulation of cell cycle exit during differentiation. The interplay between cell cycle regulators and chromatin factors during cell cycle exit will be investigated, examining how chromatin factors control cell cycle gene expression, and whether cell cycle regulators reciprocally regulate chromatin factors. This research will have important implications in the contexts of developmental biology, regeneration studies, and cancer research.

PolarNet Kickoff meeting in November

PolarNet Kickoff picture

Amalia , Victoria and Janine are part of the PolarNet ITN. PIs and all PhD studenst presented their research plans and first results at the international meeting in Utrecht.

Lunch with Nobel Prize winner Martin Chalfie

Martin Chalfie

Martin Chalfie was the Keynote Speaker at the Science for Life conference and impressed everybody with an inspiring talk not just about GFP. The next day we had the honour to talk to him during an informal lunch. Thanks again. We really appreciate that you took the time answering all our questions.

Lars Fielmich won Award for best presentation at the Science for Life

Lars presentaion

Lars presented part of his Phd work at the conference. Among all presenters he was awarded with a price for the best given presentation in his session. Congratulations !!

Tijs Koorman wins best PhD publication of the academic year 2015/2016

Tijs Publication

Former PhD student of Mike Boxem Tijs Koorman was awarded with the price for the best PhD publication of the academic year 2015/2016. Koorman and Co-worker published in Nature Cell Biology. They used a large-scale protein interacting mapping combined with systematic phenotypic profiling to study the netwerk of physical interactions that underlies polarity establishment and maintenance in C. elegans. Congratulation Tijs

Publication in Plos Genetics

Vincent Publication

Portegijs and Co-worker data show that phosphorylation of multiple LIN-5 domains by different kinases contributes to a mechanism for spatiotemporal control of spindle positioning and chromosome segregation.

Dutch BioPhysics meeting 2016

Members of the Boxem and van den Heuvel Lab presented their data at the yearly Dutch Biophysics 2016 meeting in Veldhoven.

Lars Veldhoven

Lars at the end of his presentation Shedding light on mitotic spindle positioning in asymmetric cell division


Aniek Publication

Aniek van der Vaart and Sander van den Heuvel were asked to comment on the recent publication of Sun et al (Cell Stem Cell, 2016). Sun and co-workers findings provide new insight in the control of terminal differentiation and suggest strategies to promote tissue repair.

Publication in BMC Biology

Waijers Publication

Waaijers, former PhD student of Mike Boxem, and Co-workers present in the paper an in vivo biotinylation-based approach for the tissue-specific purification of protein complexes from Caenorhabditis elegans.

Welcome Amalia and Victoria !!

Amalia Riga and Victoria Garcia Castiglioni joined the Boxem group as PhD students. Amalia and Victoria are part of the PolarNet a European research and training consortium. We wish both a good start and a succesful time.

Left: Amalia did her Master of Science at the University of Crete. Right: Victoria did her Master of Science at the Universistat Autonoma de Barcelona

Developmental Biology

The research of the Developmental Biology division focuses on studying biological principles in the context of living, developing multicellular organisms. The division is led by Prof. Dr. Sander van den Heuvel, and is home to several research groups, each with their own research focus.

Sander van den Heuvel studies the regulation of cell division in the context of animal development. Research topics in the group include asymmetric cell division, the control of cell-cycle entry, and the regulation of differentiation vs. proliferation. C. elegans is the main model system used for these studies, with less frequent use of mammalian tissue culture systems.

Mike Boxem uses a combination of systems biology approaches, systematic experimental manipulation, and live-cell imaging to study the process of cell polarization.

Rüdiger Schulz studies basic questions regarding the control of spermatogonial stem cell divisions in Zebrafish, as well as applied questions on the reproduction of commercial fish including Salmon and Cod.

Inge The studies the regulation of cell proliferation vs. differentiation in collaboration with the group of Sander van den Heuvel.

To read more about the different research projects, please visit the research group sites through the menu on the right.