Denham Group

Denham group - Stem Cells

The Denham group is working with human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells to study how the nervous system develops and the processes involved in neurodegeneration. In particular, he is interested in the specification of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons, the major cell type affected in Parkinson’s disease. He has developed efficient protocols for generating mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons and uncovered some of the key molecular mechanisms that underlie this process.

Research focus

The main focus of our research is to investigate the signalling pathways required for the specification of precise neural cell types from the pluripotent state, from which our objectives are to use these derivatives to develop in vitro models for studying neurodegenerative diseases. Using this approach our aims are to identify early cellular changes that underlie the onset of neurodegeneration for diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Furthermore, we are also interested in how different neural progenitor subtypes survive and function after transplantation in an adult rodent brain. Our overall goals are to develop potential treatment strategies for neurodegenerative disorders in the form of cell replacement therapies and drug development.

Projects for Master and ERASMUS students currently available

If interested, please contact Group Leader Mark Denham directly ( for further information. See further information on projects here

Human pluripotent stem cell derived neurosphere differentiated into neurons in vitro using a small molecule induction system (Denham et al., Stem Cells, 2012).


Photo: PhD student Milena Laban (left)

2017.05.02 | Events

DANDRITE attended this year's Festival of Research in Aarhus on April 27

As usual DANDRITE attended the Festival of Research. It was a busy and enjoyable day where group leaders and students from DANDRITE demonstrated their research areas to the general Danish public. Four labs where represented: Anne von Philipsborn lab, Poul Henning Jensen lab, Mark Denham lab and Poul Nissen Lab.

2016.11.11 | Research news

Poul Henning Jensen and Mark Denham received the Danish Parkinsons association Grant

Mark Denham got a grant for the project "Combining stem cells and novel bioactive scaffolds to develop new Parkinson Disease therapies" while Poul Henning Jensens project is called "Can caffeine treatment rescue alfa-synuclein aggregation dependent disease spreading and neuron loss? Investigating a novel neuroprotective principle in…

2015.10.26 | Research news

New publication from Mark Denham's group - Enteric Neural Cells from Hirschsprung Disease Patients form Ganglia in Autologous Aneuronal Colon Muscle Tissue

In collaboration with the Newgreen laboratory at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Australia. Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is caused by failure of neural crest (NC) derived cells to colonize the distal bowel in early embryogenesis, resulting in absence of the enteric nervous system (ENS) and failure of intestinal transit postnatally.…

(Copyright: Colourbox)
Sadegh Nabavi (Photo: private)
Mark Denham (Photo: private)
Anne von Philipsborn (Photo: DANDRITE)
Duda Kvitsiani (Photo: DANDRITE)
Keisuke Yonehara (Photo: DANDRITE)

2015.05.29 | People

Top team of Group leaders now complete at DANDRITE

DANDRITE’s aim of appointing five top researchers as Group leaders has just become a reality with the appointment of Dr Sadegh Nabavi, whose research includes how memory is formed, how it can be erased, and how it can subsequently be restored.

2015.05.29 | Research news

New publication from Mark Denham's group - How to make a midbrain dopaminergic neuron

This Primer summarises recent efforts to generate human midbrain dopaminergic neurons in vitro, from pluripotent stem cells or from somatic cells via direct reprogramming. This review was in collaboration with Prof. Ernest Arenas’s laboratory, Karolinska Institute, Sweden.

2015.03.17 | Research news

New publication from Mark Denham's group - Multipotent caudal neural progenitors derived from human pluripotent stem cells that give rise to lineages of the central and peripheral nervous system

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can be directed into most cell types of the body. Our aim is to understand the signalling pathways that are required to direct their fate toward cell types of the nervous system. This study is the first to identify a multipotent neural progenitor derived from hPSCs, that gives rise to lineages of the central…

2014.12.22 | Research news

Group Leader Mark Denham part of new BrainStem Strategic Centre

Group Leader Mark Denham is part of the newly established BrainStem Strategic Centre, a collaboration between Copenhagen University Hospital, Aarhus University, Lund University, University of Southern Denmark, Lundbeck A/S and Bioneer A/S. BrainStem will focus on basic disease mechanisms behind Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and use advanced…

2014.09.29 | Research news

New publication from Mark Denham's group in collaboration with the Dottori laboratory in Melbourne Australia - Functional Characterization of Friedreich Ataxia iPS-Derived Neuronal Progenitors and Their Integration in the Adult Brain

Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is an autosomal recessive disease characterised by neurodegeneration and cardiomyopathy. Here we show that neural derivatives of FRDA induced pluripotent stem cell lines are able to differentiate into functional neurons, which is highly significant findings for developing FRDA therapies using patient-derived stem cells.

2013.11.12 | People


DANDRITE has appointed Anne von Philipsborn and Mark Denham as Group Leaders. These appointments are the first two in a series of five group leaders to be employed at DANDRITE. Anne and Mark will start their research in December and January, respectively.

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