Professor Blanpain is a researcher of the Belgian FNRS and group leader at IRIBHM, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium, and is a PI in the current EuroStemCell (H2020) project. His lab is interested in understanding the role of epithelial stem cells during development, homeostasis, cancer initiation and growth.
Stem cells (SCs) have the unique capacity to self-renew and to differentiate into the cell lineages that constitute their tissue of origin. SCs are found in many adult tissues and are critical for maintaining tissue homeostasis and for regenerating damaged tissue after injuries. We are using genetic lineage tracing experiments in mice to determine how stratified epithelia are formed during embryonic development and are maintained thereafter during tissue homeostasis. We are studying how adult SCs sense and respond to DNA damage in their natural niche.
Two epithelial skin cancers are frequent in human populations: the squamous cell carcinoma and the basal cell carcinoma. The identification of the cells at the origin of these two frequent human cancers remains elusive. We are using mouse genetics to identify cells at the origin of these two frequent cancers and developed new approach to understand the molecular changes that occurred from the first oncogenic event to the development of invasive cancers.