prof. Tom Taghon (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Tom Taghon

Full Professor (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent)

Research focus

The overall goal of our work is to understand the transcriptional network that induces and controls T cell development in human. T lymphocytes are vital cells of the immune system and comprise a particular type of blood cells that is generated from the blood forming hematopoietic stem cells. In clinical settings where hematopoietic stem cells are transplanted to rebuild the immune system, for instance following chemotherapy with the aim to eradicate cancer cells, the recovery of T lymphocytes is slow and often limited, leading to a prolonged phase of immune deficiency in which patients are highly susceptible to infections. By obtaining novel insights into the molecular network that induces the step-wise conversing of hematopoietic stem cells into T lymphocytes, we aim to improve the development of these immune cells following stem cell transplantation. In addition, since many of the key transcriptional regulators of normal T lymphocyte development are often aberrantly expressed in T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia, another part of our work aims to reveal how gain- or loss-of-function expression of these factors alters normal T cell development and contributes to oncogenic transformation. By studying the changes in gene expression that occur upon such perturbations, these insights provide novel opportunities for targeted therapy.

Expertise to offer

The team of Prof. Taghon has important in vitro and in vivo models for studying hematopoiesis (read more via the intranet), e.g. differentiation of HCSs into different lineages, and in vivo reconstitution models. They are open to share this expertise with industrial and academic partners for collaborative projects.


  • Master in Biotechnology (1997, Ghent University)
  • PhD in Medical Sciences (2002, lab of Dr. Georges Leclercq and Dr. Jean Plum, Ghent University)
  • Postdoc at California Institute of Technology (US, lab of Dr. Ellen Rothenberg)
  • Odysseus II Grant (2007)
  • Award of the Royal Academy of Medical Sciences Belgium for fundamental medical research (2009)
  • FWO expert panel member
  • Immune network coordinator for the Human Cell Atlas

Research team

Key publications

  • 'Circulating IRF8-expressing CD123+CD127+ lymphoid progenitors: key players in human hematopoiesis'. Trends Immunol. 2023
  • 'Intrathymic dendritic cell-biased precursors promote human T cell lineage specification through IRF8-driven transmembrane TNF'. Nat Immunol. 2023
  • 'Development of γδ T cells in the thymus - A human perspective'. Semin Immunol. 2022 
  • 'Distinct and temporary-restricted epigenetic mechanisms regulate human αβ and γδ T cell development'. Nature Immunology. 2020. 
  • 'Integrated single cell RNAseq identifies human postnatal thymus seeding progenitors and regulatory dynamics of differentiating immature thymocytes'. Immunity. 2020. 
  • 'A cell atlas of human thymic development defines T cell repertoire formation'. Science. 2020 
  • 'Safe targeting of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia by pathology-specific NOTCH inhibition'; Science Translational Medicine 2019 11:494
  • 'ZEB2 and LMO2 drive immature T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia via distinct oncogenic mechanisms'. ; Haematologica. 2019 104:1608
  • 'Deletion 6q drives T-cell leukemia progression by ribosome modulation.;Cancer Discov.' 2018 12:1614
  • 'A quantitative proteomics approach identifies ETV6 and IKZF1 as new regulators of an ERG-driven transcriptional network'. Nucleic Acids Research, 2016 (PMID: 27604872)
  • 'A cooperative microRNA-tumor suppressor gene network in acute T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL)'. Nature Genetics, 2011. (PMID: 21642990)
  • 'A novel tumour-suppressor function for the Notch pathway in myeloid leukaemia'., Nature, 2011 (PMID: 21562564)

Contact & links