Lucia Selfa

Lucia was born in Madrid and started her studies in Biomedical Sciences in Alcalá de Henares. By the end of her degree, her interest to discover the world dragged her to join the Erasmus program and move to Amsterdam, where she had her first contact with epigenetics during her Bachelor Thesis at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, participating in a haploid genetic screen of inhibitors targeting epigenetic modifiers.  Willing to explore other fields in science, as well as other countries and cultures, she joined the Master’s Program in Regenerative Biology and Medicine in Dresden. After looking into adult neurogenesis and planarian regeneration, she has now joined the lab to help understanding the role of histones in transcriptional regulation.

Dresden International PhD Program selection week – Autumn 2015

The Vastenhouw lab has just participated in the Dresden International PhD Program selection week. Candidates from all over the world went through a challenging selection committee, followed by interviews by group leaders in range of institutes in the Dresden BIOPOLIS. The week culminated in the traditional PhD party with the theme this year being Game of Thrones. Good luck to all the candidates!!

Vastenhouw Lab retreat 2015

The Vastenhouw lab has come back from its annual lab retreat. For the 3 days of the retreat, we stayed in Dolní Zálezly in the Czech Republic. The retreat stimulated many interesting discussions regarding individual projects, possible internal collaborations and future directions. Our invited guest was Prof. Dr. Christof Gebhardt, from the University of Ulm and he provided a fascinating talk regarding transcription factor binding kinetics. We also had time to do team bonding activities, which included rafting on the Elbe. Overall, it was a fabulous retreat and we are all looking forward to next years event.

Mate at the CSHL Eukaryotic Gene Expression Course


Mate took part at the Gene Expression course in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from July 22-August 10. During the 3 weeks he had a lot of fun doing 17 different experiments and interacting with almost 20 top scientists in the transcription field. Having a beer with mates and instructors after long hours at the bench and in the classroom, sailing in the harbor and having a huge beach picnic with the whole group made for unforgettable moments and many new friends. The only bitter part in the 3 weeks was loosing in the famous plate race 😉

NB The wide angle shot is a group photo with James Watson.

Nadine Vastenhouw

Nadine was born in Amsterdam and after a happy youth in one of the many Dutch polders, she returned to Amsterdam to do her Masters in Medical Biology. Here, her passion for biology and science communication was born. For her PhD, she joined the lab of Ronald Plasterk at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht and dissected the mysteries of transposon silencing and RNA interference in the roundworm C. elegans. After graduating in 2006, Nadine moved to Cambridge to join Alex Schier’s lab at Harvard University. Funded by EMBO and HFSP, she fell in love with the first few hours of zebrafish development and spent her time investigating the role of chromatin structure in the regulation of embryonic transcription. In 2012 she moved back to Europe to start her lab at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden thanks to generous funds by the Max Planck Society, The MPI-CBG and HFSP.

Maximilian Krause

Max was born with a view to the Baltic Sea, close to Rostock, Germany. The center of his early life and education was Brandenburg. Predisposed by the surrounding lakes and rivers, he volunteered for one year at the Institute for Freshwater Fisheries in Potsdam-Sacrow. Inspired by this first scientific experience, he decided to further move into science. While studying Biochemistry in Jena, he worked as an assistant in the Lab of Cornelis Calkhoven, where he learned about the effects of cEBP on metabolism and aging. After gaining international experience with internships in the US and Norway, Max did his Diploma thesis 2011 in the Institute for Age research in Jena, investigating the role of PML bodies in senescence and apoptosis. In 2012 Max was awarded the DIGS-BB fellowship. He decided to make the switch from death to birth by joining Dr. Nadine Vastenhouw’s lab, studying the influence of histone modifications on early transcription activation in zebrafish embryos.

Carine Stapel

Carine was born in The Netherlands where she studied Biomedical Sciences in the beautiful city of Utrecht. After finding her passion for research during an internship on genome stability in the lab of Marcel Tijsterman, Carine decided that she wanted to see more of science/the world. This led to a summer internship at Sloan-Kettering in NYC where she worked on miRNAs in the lab of Jidong Liu. Not ready to leave the US, she went on to do her Master’s thesis research at Harvard University in the lab of Alex Schier. This is where she met Nadine. Fascinated by the question how transcription is activated during development, she decided to follow Nadine to Dresden. Here she is using single molecule RNA imaging to better understand zygotic genome activation.

Mate Palfy

Mate is from Budapest, Hungary where he also did his undergraduate training in Biology. He got a first taste for research while working in the Network Biology group at ELTE University; here he studied the role of endocytosis in regulating signaling pathways. For his Master’s project he switched fields and countries and went to the Max F. Perutz laboratories in Vienna to work on the cell biology of cilia using C. elegans as a model. Mate started his PhD in the Vastenhouw lab in September 2013 and is trying to unravel how transcription is repressed before zygotic genome activation in zebrafish. In his free time he loves doing outdoor sports including mountain biking, trail running and cross-country skiing.

Krishnendu Khan

Krishnendu is from West Bengal, India and religiously follows cricket as well as movies. His tryst with scientific research started at PGIMER, Chandigarh from where he completed his masters in Medical Biotechnology. He then moved to Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore to pursue his PhD in the lab of Prof. K. Muniyappa. During his PhD. he studied meiotic chromosomes pairing in budding yeast. In the course of his graduate studies he got intrigued with the effect of chromatin structure on transcription and decided to pursue it further. This led him to join Dr. Nadine Vastenhouw’s group at MPI-CBG Dresden where he moved in Nov. 2013. Currently, he is investigating whether chromatin structure regulates the onset of transcription during genome activation in zebrafish.

Shai Joseph

Shai hails from Sydney Australia and has a pastime of trekking and climbing. Shai majored in physiology at the University of Sydney and found his passion for embryology during his honors year (2009) in the lab of Professor Chris O’Neill at the Kolling institute. Here he investigated the adverse effects of in vitro culture on the pluripotency of developing mouse embryos. In 2010 he became the research assistant of Dr Kirsty Walters at the ANZAC institute, whereby he examined the role of androgens during mouse ovarian follicle development. After taking half a year off to travel the world, Shai moved up north to Townsville (2012) and joined the veterinary school at James Cook University as a technician. Having decided to continue with his studies, Shai started his PhD in 2013 in the lab of Dr Nadine Vastenhouw at the MPI-CBG Dresden. Shai is investigating the role of chromatin in controlling the timing of zygotic genome activation in zebrafish.