Interest Jan Wijnholds

Degeneration of the retina and loss of vision happens to millions of young and old people in the world. Fortunately, in the past decade more than 160 genes involved in hereditary eye diseases have been identified, and many more will be revealed. This knowledge provides ophthalmologists and genetic counselors with diagnostic tools to predict the inheritance of the eye disease and to discuss this with their patients.
We need to unravel the function of all the identified genes to work towards meaningful therapeutic traits. My laboratory uses high-tech genetic and biological approaches to obtain insight in the onset of retinal degeneration, and to unravel the normal molecular pathways that fail to function under such circumstances. To reach our biomedical objectives we have intense collaborations ongoing with other researchers around the world.
We have developed mouse models and other tools to study CRB1-mediated Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). We currently focus on cell polarity and adhesion control proteins: the CRB1-family proteins (CRB1, CRB2, CRB3), the MAGUK-family proteins (e.g. MPP3, MPP4, Pals1 or MPP5), the PDZ-motif containing proteins (MUPP1, PATJ), and others.

Biography Jan Wijnholds

1987: M.Sc. in Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Groningen (cum laude)
1990: EMBO 3-month fellowship NIMR, London
1991: EMBO 3-month fellowship NIMR, London
1991: Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of Groningen
1992-1995: Max Planck Fellow, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen
1995-2000: Postdoctoral Fellow, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
2000-2005: Principal Investigator, Netherlands Ophthalmic Research Institute
2000-2008: Honorary Staff Member, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
2002-2005: FP5 EC project coordinator "Crumbs Therapeutics"

2006-2012: ZonMw project coordinator "CRB1 retinal gene therapy"
2008-2012: FP7 EC project coordinator "Crumbs In Sight"
since 2006: Head of Department of Neuromedical Genetics, NIN, Amsterdam

Personal Interests Jan Wijnholds

We will focus on the dynamics of polarity and adhesion complex formation and maintenance. Our future projects will be dedicated to biomedical research on retinal and neuronal degeneration that significantly contribute to the development of therapeutic traits.


To understand the mechanisms that underlie deregulated cell polarization and adhesion in retinal and neuronal degeneration and stimulate to apply this knowledge in the development of therapeutic tools.