Dr. Henk van Weerd


All human cells share the same genetic material, however, different cells in different tissue types have distinct gene expression profiles leading to highly variable cellular phenotypes. This diversity in gene expression is orchestrated by non-coding regulatory elements, which dictate the spatiotemporal expression of target genes. Genome-wide association studies increasingly link non-coding variants in the human genome to common diseases and traits, and these variants are preferentially concentrated in regulatory DNA sequences. Identification and characterization of these non-coding regulatory elements throughout the human genome is therefore instrumental to understand the mechanisms underlying gene expression in homeostasis and disease. Compared to enhancers, a well-characterized class of regulatory elements that increase the expression of target genes, the role of non-coding silencers that suppress gene expression remains poorly characterized. I am focusing on the functional and epigenomic characterization of such silencer elements in the human genome and study how trait-associated variation affects their function.


Curriculum vitae

I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. For my Master’s research internship I joined the lab of Dr. Jun Takeuchi in the University of Tokyo, Japan, where I studied the evolutionary development of the heart. Continuing on this topic, I started my PhD in the lab of Prof. Vincent Christoffels in the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, where I studied the transcriptional regulation of genes involved in the development and function of the cardiac conduction system. In February 2021 I joined the lab of Dr. Baoxu Pang in the Leiden University Medical Center as a postdoc.


  • Trait-associated noncoding variant regions affect TBX3 regulation and cardiac conduction.

    van Weerd JH, Mohan RA, van Duijvenboden K, Hooijkaas IB, Wakker V, Boukens BJ, Barnett P, Christoffels VM.

    eLife, 2020; 9:e56697

  • Identification and Characterization of a Transcribed Distal Enhancer Involved in Cardiac Kcnh2 Regulation.

    van den Boogaard M*, van Weerd JH*, Bawazeer AC, Hooijkaas IB, van de Werken HJG, Tessadori F, de Laat W, Barnett P, Bakkers J, Christoffels VM.

    Cell Reports, 2019; 28(10):2704-2714.e5

  • The formation and function of the cardiac conduction system.

    van Weerd JH, Christoffels VM.

    Development, 2016; 143(2):197-210


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