Manu Beerens, PhD, graduated as a biogenetic engineer at the University of Leuven (KUL) in 2008, after which he started working in the lab of Professor Aernout Luttun as a predoctoral fellow. To conduct his work, Manu received a prestigious 4-year fellowship from the Flemish Institute of Innovation through Research and Technology (IWT). His work underlined the pivotal role of the transcription factor Coup-TFII in lymphatic development and, more importantly, demonstrated that this transcription factor has a differential impact on the venous versus lymphatic endothelial cell program by forming respectively homo- or hetero-dimers with the lymphatic denominator Prox1.
After successfully defending his PhD in front of an expert panel of peers in May 2013, Manu remained in the Luttun lab as a postdoctoral research fellow to investigate the therapeutic potential of multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPC) to remedy lymphedema in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Catherine Verfaillie (Stem Cell Institute, KUL).
Manu joined the MacRae lab In July 2014, where his primary research focuses on the vascular and cardiac implementations of perturbations in Notch signaling by altering the expression of de novo identified genetic interactors of this pathway using zebrafish larvae as a readout model. Manu is also interested in the signals that instruct endothelial cells to switch cell fate in a variety of biological settings, including cardiac valve formation and hematopoietic stem cell specification. Finally, Manu uses an automated screening approach to identify phenotype-drug associations in various disease settings including, but not restricted to cardiomyopathy.