Marc Raaijmakers, MD, PhD
Professor of Hematology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Dr. Raaijmakers is a 2019 RRP/ALSF grantee. His research proposal aims to uncover whether RUNX1-FPD patients may be at heightened risk of blood cancer because of an unhealthy blood stem cell niche, which is the bone marrow. Blood stem cells are responsible for generating our blood each and every day. They are also the cells that are responsible for driving leukemia when they acquire mutations in specific genes. Therefore, blood stem cells are incredibly important to our survival and must be protected from any undo stress that may result in dangerous mutations. The bone marrow, where blood stem cells live, provides a highly specialized environment that protects the stem cells. Dr. Raaijmakers is an expert on the bone marrow blood stem cell niche. In his research proposal he outlines a series of experiments that aim to test whether a bone marrow niche that has lower levels of RUNX1 activity, like in RUNX1-FPD patients, is a key contributing factor in the progression to leukemia. His work may provide a proof-of-concept that therapeutically targeting the bone marrow niche is a rational approach to preventing leukemia.