The Wnts of Nicola Fenderico

Who are you and what do you do?
“My name is Nicola Fenderico and I am from Italy, where I studied medical biotechnologies and molecular medicine. Now I am working in the lab of Madelon Maurice for my PhD. In our group we investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the function of a special group of proteins called Wnts. Wnts are small ligands that bind to receptors at the cell surface and are essential to keep our cells healthy. However, sometimes these same proteins misbehave and are linked to a plethora of different diseases including colorectal cancer.”

Where is this work spot?
“I am based in the Maurice laboratory in the department of Cell Biology at UMC Utrecht. Here, I usually spend my days wearing a funny green lab coat which protects me from my cells and my cells from me. These cells that I work with are called organoids or mini guts. As their name suggests they are small and simplified versions of the intestine that show realistic anatomy. I am using these mini guts to understand how colorectal cancer develops.”

What is interesting about your research?
“All research is interesting! I enjoy unravelling what nature has designed including the processes driving life and death. In my research, I am not only interested in understanding the initiation and progression of colorectal cancer but also directly translating this knowledge into clinically useful applications. Ultimately, I aim to develop new compounds for colorectal cancer patients.”


Tags: umc utrecht