Founded in 1636, UU is the leading university in the Netherlands and ranked among the top 10 universities in Europe (2008 Shanghai Ranking). It is located in the heart of the Netherlands, 45 km from Amsterdam and has approximately 8,500 staff and 30,000 students. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is the only veterinary school in the Netherlands and ranked internationally in the top 4 most cited academic veterinary institutions (Science Watch 2005 16(3)). The faculty supports 5 research programs and the proposed project will be incorporated in the Biology of Reproductive Cells (BRC) Program a collaborative initiative between the Departments of Farm Animal Health, Equine Sciences, and Biochemistry and Cell Biology. One of the core missions of the BRC program is to define the determinants of cellular pluripotency and develop techniques for manipulating cell differentiation in domestic species. The bulk of this research will be conducted in the Reproduction Laboratory which has a number of current research projects focussing on regulation of cellular potency. In particular, it is examining how cells, principally germ cells, can acquire developmental potency. Cellular mechanisms involved in oocyte maturation are also being investigated. In addition, the molecular basis of cell differentiation choices (equivalent to the loss of developmental potency) made sequentially in early embryos starting from the totipotent zygote is being investigated. The animal species of choice for these studies are the pig, horse and cow.