Dr Heiko Wurdak

Group Leader

(+44)113 343 8636

Summary: I lead the Stem Cells and Brain Tumour group in LICAP.

Location: Wellcome Trust Brenner Building 5.12


Dr Wurdak received training in biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics during his undergraduate studies at the Technical University, Darmstadt, Germany. After completion of the Diploma in biology and an industrial internship (Maingen, Frankfurt, Germany), he joined the laboratory of Prof. Lukas Sommer at the ETH Zurich as a doctoral student. Dr Wurdak’s PhD work involved in vivo lineage tracing of neural stem cell populations, phenotypic analysis of tissues & stem cell derivatives in vivo, and cell signaling studies. He demonstrated that neural crest stem cell-specific ablation of TGFbeta signaling results in developmental malformations reminiscent of a congenital disease termed DiGeorge syndrome. Moreover, he found that TGFbeta signaling is implicated in eye and midbrain development, and in 2006, Dr Wurdak was awarded the ETH Zurich outstanding dissertation award.

Subsequently, Dr Wurdak became an EMBO (and subsequently AACR) postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Peter G. Schultz at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla, USA. He studied small molecules that regulate the fate of somatic and tumour stem cells of the central nervous system. He gained comprehensive experience in interdisciplinary research identifying factors that cause differentiation of brain tumour stem cells and ES cells through large-scale genomic and chemical screens. He also elucidated the effects of a novel neurogenic small molecule (KHS101) on adult neurogenesis and neural stem cell fate.

Dr Wurdak started his independent academic career in January 2011 and received the MRC New Investigator grant in 2012, continuing his interests in brain tumour and stem cell biology.