Janine Cravo is a Portuguese PhD student in the van den Heuvel at the Utrecht University. She started her undergraduate studies in 2007 by enrolling in the Biomedical Sciences bachelor degree at University of Algarve. Later in 2010, she joined the Master’s in Biomedical Science in the same university. Janine joined the Isabel Palmeirim’s lab at the Center for Biomedical Research to develop her Master’s thesis which aimed to characterize bioinformatically and in vitro an avian cyclic expressed protein involved in the segmentation clock.

As Janine had a great interest for cancer biology, Janine changed fields and in November 2013 started working as a research fellow on the project “Mutant E-Cadherin and Novel Interactors in Cancer”, under the supervision of Prof. Raquel Seruca and Dr. Joana Figueiredo, at Ipatimup. It was during this time that Janine integrated and understood how polarity and cell organization have such an impact on a great vast of cellular processes. Therefore, Janine decided to apply to the position available at van den Heuvel Lab at Utrecht University funded by the Marie Curie ITN, PolarNet, where she is currently doing her PhD since April 2016.


The project proposes to study the division pattern of the skin stem cells of C. elegans, the seam cells of C. elegans. These cells divide asymmetrically once in every larval stage to generate skin cell (differentiated) and a seam cell (stem) daughter. These cells can also divide symmetrically in a specific time of the worm development to give rise to more stem cells. The seam cells reside in 2 rows along the lateral sides of the worm. The main focus of the project is to study these seam cell division by taking in consideration that these are epithelial cells and therefore establish specialized cell junctions between them. She aims to disrupt these seam cell junctions and then analyze the contribution of cell-cell contacts to the regulation of seam cell division.