Cédric Blanpain Lab*

Research focus

Blanpain group studies the role of stem cells during development, homeostasis and cancer.

Stem cells during development, homeostasis and repair
The Blanpain group is using embryonic stem cell differentiation and mouse embryonic development, to unravel the molecular mechanisms and gene regulatory network that control multipotent cardiovascular progenitor specification and cardiovascular lineage differentiation, which have important implications for cardiovascular birth defects and the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

We are using a multidisciplary approach consisting of lineage tracing and lineage ablation experiments, clonal analysis, proliferation kinetic experiments, combined with biophysical modeling to define progenitor heterogeneity and the mechanisms controlling cell fate specification and proliferation dynamics in the skin epidermis, the mammary gland and the prostate during tissue homeostasis, growth and repair (ERC EXPAND 2014-2018). These studies have important implications for regenerative medicine.

Stem cells and cancer
For the vast majority of cancers, the cell at the origin of tumor initiation is still unknown. We are using mouse genetics to trace the origin of epithelial cancers (skin and breast cancers) and the mechanisms that regulate the competence of the different epithelial lineages to promote or restrict tumor initiation.

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been described in many different mouse and human cancers. We are using different molecular and cellular approaches to study tumor heterogeneity and cancer stem cells in primary mouse tumor models and in human cancers. We are developing clonal lineage tracing to unravel the mode of tumour growth within their natural environment and provided the first experimental evidence for the existence of CSC during unperturbed solid tumour growth. Blanpain group is studying the role of intrinsic (eg: Sox2, Twist1, Sox9) and extrinsic factors (eg: the perivascular niche) in the regulation of cancer stem cell function. We are studying the role of EMT in the regulation of cancer stem cell function and metastasis, and the mechanisms responsible for cancer resistance to medical therapy and tumor relapse.  These studies have important implications for cancer prevention and therapy.   


*Visiting PI:
Cédric Blanpain is a visiting PI to the VIB Center for the Biology of Diseases, where he shares his expertise on cancer stem cells during tumour growth and relapse.
Please refer to Cédric Blanpain's own website (menu at the right) for the full overview of his research at ULB.​​


Reactivation of multipotency by oncogenic PIK3CA induces breast tumour heterogeneityVan Keymeulen A Lee M Ousset M Brohee S Rorive S Giraddi R. R Wuidart A Bouvencourt G Dubois C Salmon I Sotiriou C Phillips W. A Blanpain CédricNATURE, 525, 119-23, 2015
SOX2 controls tumour initiation and cancer stem-cell functions in squamous-cell carcinomaBoumahdi S Driessens G Lapouge G Rorive S Nassar D Le Mercier M Delatte B Caauwe A Lenglez S Nkusi E Brohee S Salmon I Dubois C Del Marmol V Fuks F. Beck B Blanpain C.NATURE, 511, 246-50, 2014
Distinct contribution of stem and progenitor cells to epidermal maintenanceMascré G Dekoninck S Drogat B Youssef K. K Brohée S Sotiropoulou P. A Simons B. D Blanpain C.NATURE, 489, 257-62, 2012
Defining the mode of tumour growth by clonal analysisDriessens G Beck B Caauwe A Simons B. D Blanpain C.NATURE, 488, 527-30, 2012
Distinct stem cells contribute to mammary gland development and maintenanceVan Keymeulen A Rocha A Ousset M Beck B Bouvencourt G Rock J Sharma N. Dekoninck S Blanpain C.NATURE, 479, 189-93, 2011

Job openings

Cédric Blanpain

Cédric Blanpain

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)


PhD: Univ. libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium, 2001
Postdoc: HHMI, Rockefeller Univ., New York, USA, 2002-06
Professor: Univ. libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium, 2006-now
Visiting Group leader VIB since February 2015​​​

Contact Info

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer BiologyO&N 4, 9e verdCampus GasthuisbergHerestraat 49, bus 912 3000 LEUVENRoute description