2017 begins with a successful PhD defense. Congratulations to Dr. rer. nat. Erik Pittermann, for graduating from the HBRS Regenerative Sciences PhD program within the REBIRTH Cluster of Excellence. He received a magna cum laude grade for his defense of his PhD thesis, titled “Modeling Kostmann disease in vitro using iPSC technology”.
Kostmann disease (a.k.a. congenital neutropenia) is a rare inherited childhood disorder of white blood cell formation. Erik’s PhD work focused on using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – which have unlimited differentiation potential and can be steered towards any cell type of the human body – to recapitulate and study the Kostmann disease phenotype in vitro. Using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, Erik was able to correct the causative genetic mutation, after which proper white blood cell formation and function was restored. He also identified multiple regulatory networks downregulated in Kostmann disease, which were re-expressed upon gene repair via CRISPR-Cas9.
Erik is now drafting a manuscript of his findings for publication. We wish him all the best in his new job at Stem Cell Technologies in Cologne.