Marieke von Lindern was a postdoc at the IMP with Hartmut Beug until 1995. Today, she is a department head at Sanquin Research in the Netherlands. Her ties with the IMP and her former supervisor continue to be close.
In March 1992 I started my postdoc with Hartmut Beug. For my PhD I had been cloning fusion genes in leukaemia at Erasmus University Rotterdam, which was quite a challenge in these days, but a technical one. Now I wanted to do some real biology and the conditionally transformed avian hematopoietic cell models developed by Hartmut attracted me. I was impressed with the science at the IMP, the new and modern infrastructure, and the international community.
Apart from a few frustrations that come with ambition, demand, and hard work, I had a great time and made many friends. For me the IMP is a place that brings people together, even today. At the 20-year IMP party I met Dónal O’Carroll and recently we submitted a paper as co-authors. But the biggest bond remained with Hartmut and his group.
What Hartmut seeded was the fun of science and the need to collaborate, to be open to colleagues and to take the opportunity to gain from interactions, rather than to fear competition. If research interests overlap, we have to collaborate to create more new ideas instead of starting blind competition.
I continued to investigate erythropoiesis after I exchanged the IMP for the Department of Hematology at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, and so I kept collaborating with Hartmut. The establishment of primary erythroblast cultures from mouse and human hematopoietic tissues has been a major asset to study basic mechanisms in erythropoiesis and to start translational research. In Rotterdam we aimed to elucidate how signal transduction from the receptors for erythropoietin and stem cell factor controls renewal and maturation of erythroblasts.
Together with Bianca Habermann, Andrea Kolbus, Helmuth Dolznig, Thomas Werner, Ernst Müllner and with Andreas Weith at Boehringer Ingelheim we performed large scale expression profiling using total and polysome bound mRNA to establish that signalling-controlled selective mRNA translation is crucial for erythroblast renewal. We are able to generate and test anaemia models through the combination of mouse models and in vitro cultures, and to validate results in erythroblast cultures derived from blood of anaemia patients. This way we for instance identified genes involved in Diamond Blackfan anaemia (DBA) in mouse models and DBA patient-derived human cultures.
Finally, I have a Beug-like role for many people working on globin switching in the Cell Biology department of Frank Grosveld at Erasmus Medical Center. Old and new technology developed by Hartmut is rapidly and widely spread to tackle gamma-globin reactivation to find cures for thalassemia and sickle cell disease. I continue to teach their students and visitors to generate erythroid cultures from ES cells, to culture human erythroid progenitors from blood, or to do haemoglobin stains on cytospins.
Because of the long term collaboration with Hartmut and others in Vienna, I never really left the IMP and Hartmut leaving the IMP feels a bit like finally leaving myself. Luckily there are still many friends in Vienna, both inside and outside science.
By Marieke von Lindern, first published in 2010
Alumni Stories: quick links
Angelika Amon - Jörg Betschinger - Sarah Bowman - Rafal Ciosk - Greg Emery - Silke Hauf - Christian Häring - Konrad Hochedlinger - Andrea Hutterer - Claudine Kraft - Christoph Lengauer - Marieke von Lindern - Mark Petronczki - Walter Schmidt - Camilla Sjögren - Andrew Straw - Attila Toth - Giulio Superti-Furga - Frank Uhlmann - Hartmut Vodermaier