Universiteit Hasselt
Hasselt, Belgium

Project description

The goal of the project is to establish cellular dynamics during the process of regeneration in the flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea. This animal has a remarkable ability to regenerate following nearly any type of injury, conferred by adult stem cells, called neoblasts. In previous research, we demonstrated that redox molecules are essential elements in modulating and launching regenerative processes. The current project proceeds on these findings and aims to answer existing research gaps concerning the nature of the reactive oxygen species invoked, their site of production, concentration and spreading; and the downstream cellular signaling events involved in stem cell functioning and differentiation. The project will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the meticulously regulated cell fate decisions and how their imbalance leads to adverse responses. A cutting-edge research approach, using redox-sensitive nanocarriers, will be used to elucidate the reciprocal relationship between redox molecules and stem cells, with significant emphasis on mitochondria and glutathione as core components of redox homeostasis.

Principal Investigator

Karen Smeets, PhD

Professor at the faculty of Sciences, Hasselt University, Belgium (link: https://www.uhasselt.be/en/who-is-who/detail/karen-smeets)

Vice director of the Centre of Environmental Sciences (link: https://www.uhasselt.be/en/instituten-en/cmk-centre-for-environmental-sciences)

Group leader of the Toxicology research group (link: https://www.bitelab.be)

ORCID: 0000-0001-9673-8824
E-mail: karen.smeets@uhasselt.be
Phone: +32(0)

Karen Smeets


The team is part of the Centre of Environmental Sciences, a multidisciplinary research institute that unites top environmental research and industrial collaboration to address challenges of high societal urgency that require analyses that span across the boundaries of different scientific domains and disciplines. CMK focuses on issues related to environmental stress in general, and developed academic leadership in ageing research and public health. CMK has elaborate scientific equipment, databases (e.g. on health data) and model organisms. In recent years, the team has established the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea as a model for studying regeneration and developmental toxicology, using state-of-the-art (live) imaging techniques.