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Peter van Galen, PhD
Associate Molecular Biologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department of Medicine
Hematology
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

Research Location: Harvard Institute of Medicine


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Research Narrative:
The van Galen laboratory investigates normal and malignant hematopoiesis, with a focus on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We use innovative experimental and computational technologies to study human cells at the transcriptional, genetic and epigenetic levels. The ultimate goal is to design new therapies that can prevent the initiation or progression of leukemia.
 
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transformation
Cancer is caused by the sequential acquisition of genetic mutations that confer a competitive advantage to cells. Initial mutations in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can lead to an expansion of pre-malignant stem cells, clonal hematopoiesis and a predisposition to hematological cancers. If clonal hematopoiesis progresses to AML, pre-malignant HSCs can persist throughout the disease and drive relapse. Our laboratory is interested in the processes that allow pre-malignant and malignant stem cells to expand and survive therapy. Understanding the differences between normal, pre-malignant and malignant stem cells is critical to design therapies that specifically target the cells that drive AML initiation and progression.
 
Stress Signaling
The hematopoietic system is a hierarchically organized tissue with stem cells at the apex. These hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) replenish as many as a trillion cells per day of the myeloid, lymphoid and erythrocyte/megakaryocyte lineages. This remarkable regenerative potential places specific constraints on HSCs, such as unique stress responses and epigenetic control mechanisms. Our laboratory studies how deregulation of these processes can lead to a cell state that is susceptible to transformation.
 
Training
Dr. van Galen trained in the Netherlands and Canada, including his graduate work with Dr. John Dick on molecular regulation of human hematopoietic stem cells. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Bradley Bernstein, specializing  in transcriptional, genetic and epigenetic analysis of acute myeloid leukemia cells. In 2019, he joined the Hematology Division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Department of Medicine of Harvard Medical School.
 

van Galen Laboratory


Education:
University of Amsterdam, 2014, PhD
Utrecht University, 2008, MS
Utrecht University, 2006, BSc