Ólafur E. Sigurjónsson
Associate Professor at Reykjavik University
Principal investigator at the Blood-Bank, Landspitali University Hospital
Olafur finished a B.Sc. degree in molecular biology from the faculty of biology, University of Iceland in 1998 and a M.Sc. degree in medical science from the faculty of medicine, University of Iceland in 2001. The topic of his M.Sc. thesis was "Megakaryocyte development in vitro: differentiation, ploidy and apoptosis". In this thesis, he explored differentiation of megakaryocytes and platelet precursors from heamtopoietic stem cells. In 2002, Olafur started a PhD at the Institute of Immunology and the department of Physiology at the University of Oslo and graduate in 2006. The thesis was titled, "The differentiation potential of somatic stem cells". In this thesis, Oalfur continued working with hematopoeitic stem cells, further analyzing megakaryocyte development and neural differentiation. Describing new potential stem cells genes (in collaboration with Kristbjörn Orri Guðmundsson and Jonathan R. Keller) as well as describing a potential phenotype for isolation of mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue. For this thesis, he was awarded the " H.M. Kongens gullmedalje" by king Haakon V of Norway in 2007. In 2006 Olafur took over as manager and Principal Investigator at the laboratory of stem cell research and cellular therapy, at the Blood Bank. In 2008 Olafur became assistant professor at the Biomedical Engineering department, School of Science and Engineering, Reykjavik University.
Teaching: Olafur teaches an undergraduate course ( in collaboration with Dr. Karl Aegir Karlsson) in molecular and cell biology for engineer students at the School of Science and Engineering, Reykjavik University. In addition Olafur has participated in teaching in several graduate courses in Iceland and Norway.
Research Focus: The Sigurjonsson laboratory focuses on developing clinical grade methods for expansion and differentiation of stem cells. The lab runs the only clinical cell therapy service in the country, harvesting, processing and storage of hematopoietic stem cells that are used as a autolgous support method in patients undergoing strong chemotherapy for myelomas, lymphomas etc (ISO9001:2000 certified). The laboratory is currently working on analyzing the role that chitooligosaccharide play in expansion of mesenchymal stem cells and bone and cartilage differentiation and the role that chitosane like proteins play in bone and cartilage differentiation. We are also interested in the role of anti-microbial peptides play in mesenchymal stem cells and bone and cartilage differentiation. We are also (in collaboration with Jonathan R. Keller and Kristbjörn Orri Guðmundsson) analyzing the role of the Dlg7 gene in hematopoiesis and neural development in vitro.