A Personal Touch of Yaser Atlasi

Yaser Atlasi.jpg

Please learn more about colleagues in our "Personal Touch" series setting employees in the spotlight. A light-hearted manner to learn about the colleagues you know and those you don't!.

This week: Yaser Atlasi






1. Name & Nationality
Yaser Atlasi, Iranian-Dutch

2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to become a professor, I thought that professor is the person who knows everything. Later on, I watched a TV-program describing DNA and genetic engineering and that was the moment that I knew what I really want to study.

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study?
I performed my undergraduate study in Cell and molecular biology in Tehran, Iran. I then visited University of Sheffield to study the human embryonic stem cells and their malignant counterpart, germ cell tumors. I then moved to The Netherlands and performed my PhD at Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam where I studied the role of Wnt-signaling in stem cells and cancer.

4. What is your current function and what would you like to achieve?
Post-doc at the labratory of Prof. Henk Stunnenberg where I study the molecular mechanisms that control the pluripotency of mouse embryonic stem cells.

5. The RIMLS motto is 'to understand molecular mechanisms of disease'. What does this mean for you?
Stem cells are responsible for regeneration of different tissues via their extraordinary capacity of continues self-renewal and programmed differentiation. When de-regulated, these cells contribute to different diseases such as cancer. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that control self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells is therefore crucial for  our understanding of different diseases. I use mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) as a model system to address the question: how is the self-renewal and differentiation of ESCs controlled at the molecular level? The answer to this question will help us for future applications of ESCs in regenerative medicine and will shed light on basic mechanisms that control the identity of stem cells.

6. What is the biggest motivation in your work?
The biggest motivation in my work is the thought that every day could be the day of a new discovery. By doing research you are walking into an unknown territory and you never know what the next finding will be. This what makes research very exciting to me. I find stem cells in particular very fascinating since these cells represent a beautiful model that can help us in understanding the basic mechanisms of cell biology and embryonic development.  

7. What is your dream for the future?
Many of the mechanisms that are employed in stem cells are also high-jacked by cancer cells. My dream for the future is to apply our basic knowledge obtained from embryonic stem cells for treatment of cancer.

8. Fun-facts. State an interesting/obscure fact about yourself together with two that are false? Correct answer will be revealed to readers in the subsequent edition.
A: I am very good in winter sports specially skiing and ice skating
B: I find long-distance biking very boring
C: My brother is doing his PhD in our lab and people often confuse the two of us

Correct answer will be revealed to readers in the subsequent edition.


Correct answer of Ralph Slijkerman: B

A: I cycle to work every day regardless of the weather, like a true Dutch person.
B: I have visited five of the seven continents on our world.
C: I always sing a song to our zebrafish in order to increase the amount of eggs they spawn.

State an interesting/obscure fact about yourself together with two that are false.

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