About the Gonçalves lab

Genome editing based on programmable nucleases permits deleting, adding or “rewriting” the genetic instructions in living cells in a targeted fashion. As corollary, these technologies are having a significant impact on fundamental and applied research.


Rapid progress in the genome editing field is contributing to solving complex scientific questions and to develop advanced gene and cell therapies for tackling genetic disorders with unmet medical needs and high societal burdens. Yet, critical improvements at the levels of gene-editing tool delivery and precision are in demand. The Genome editing group at the Department of Cell and Chemical Biology of the LUMC focuses its research on these two critical aspects by investigating; (i) viral vectors as delivery agents of gene-editing tools; and (ii) seamless gene-editing strategies which, in contrast to conventional approaches, do not generate mutagenic double-stranded breaks at chromosomal sequences. The resulting findings and toolboxes are starting to be directed towards the modeling and correction of genetic disorders.  These interconnected research lines seek to contribute to the treatment of monogenetic disorders of the striated musculature and hematopoietic system and, to this end, include collaborations with colleagues from the LUMC, other Dutch institutions and European networks.  Important portions of our research builds upon the pioneering role of the Leiden University and the LUMC on adenoviral vector research, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.


We investigate new genome editing principles based on the activation and guiding of specific DNA repair processes after the delivery of gene editing tools into target cells. Gene editing tools under investigation include programmable DNA-cleaving enzymes (nucleases and “nickases”) and exogenous DNA-repairing templates (donor DNA). We further study the genome editing outcomes (wanted and unwanted) resulting from using nucleases versus “nickases” and donor DNA substrates with different structures and topologies. This research seeks to achieve seamless and scarless chromosomal DNA editing for modeling or repairing genetic defects in pluripotent stem cells and tissue-specific stem/progenitor cells. Underpinning these investigations, we develop and integrate gene delivery and gene editing technologies grounded on recombinant viruses and programmable nucleases, e.g., adenoviral vectors and CRISPR systems, respectively.

Additional information about our team and research activities is available via the links:

  • As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the inception of Nucleic Acids Research, the editors have highlighted some of the most impactful studies published in the journal since 2016 on the CRISPR field. Two studies from our group feature in this collection entitled: "CRISPR in Nucleic Acids Research: a sequel collection". https://academic.oup.com/nar/pages/crispr-collection-2024 These studies are:

Probing the impact of chromatin conformation on genome editing tools. Chen et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 44:6482-92. PMID: 27280977

Selection-free gene repair after adenoviral vector transduction of designer nucleases: rescue of dystrophin synthesis in DMD muscle cell populations. Maggio et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 44:1449-70. PMID: 26762977


Ph.D. theses from lab alumni:

  • Ignazio Maggio (cum laude) "Adenoviral vectors as genome editing tools: repairing defective DMD alleles" (2016) https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/44288.
    • LUMC Best Thesis Prize 2017 (Non-clinical).
    • Greiner Award 2017 from the Netherlands Society of Gene and Cell Therapy for the best thesis in the field of Gene Therapy carried out at a Dutch University or Institute.
    • Current position,  Lecturer,  Free University Amsterdam, Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research.

  • Xiaoyu Chen "Determinants of genome editing outcomes: the impact of target and donor DNA structures" (2018) https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/62204.
    • Current position, Postdoctoral fellow, Stanford University, Dep. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, USA.


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