dr. Karl L. De Ruyck

CRIG member

PhD Student - Laboratory of Food Analysis, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Sarah De Saeger (PhD)


Research focus

Foods may be contaminated by microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) during cultivation, harvest, storage, processing, distribution, or preparation. Under certain conditions, some fungi that contaminate crops may produce toxic components, such as mycotoxins. Many different classes of mycotoxins (aflatoxins, trichothecenes, fumonisins, etc.) may be produced by a range of fungi. Contaminated crops may be consumed directly, or indirectly, through animal products (meat, milk, etc.) raised on contaminated feed.
Mycotoxins can cause a wide range of toxic effects in humans, from reportedly inducing carcinogenesis or DNA damage, to targeting specific organs, like the kidney, liver, or intestines. Although the health effects of some specific mycotoxins are already well investigated (aflatoxins have been widely studied), the effect of chronically consuming multiple mycotoxins has not been researched. Therefore, this study aims to investigate health effects, particularly cancer risk, due to long-term consumption of multiple mycotoxins.
The study will use one of the largest cohorts in Europe, including half a million subjects from ten countries, namely The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study cohort. Participants’ dietary mycotoxin exposure will be investigated via dietary questionnaires and blood samples, collected at baseline of the EPIC study, which started in 1992, and using mycotoxin levels in foods obtained via EFSA and its member states. Intakes among cancer cases will be compared against non-cancer cases, with a main focus on colorectal and liver cancers. These analyses should tell us more about the relationship between intake of multiple mycotoxins and cancer risk.


Bachelor of Science (Honours), 2014
Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
Project: Developing a multiplex, blood-based, diagnostic assay for Alzheimer's disease.

Science and Innovation Studentship Award, 2007
Department of Industry & Resources, Gov't of Western Australia
Project: Developing Aβ1-42 Detection Methods Using Magnetic Beads to Increase ELISA Specificity

Key publications

  • Dietary mycotoxins, co-exposure, and carcinogenesis in humans: Short review. Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research, 2015. (PMID: 26596546)

Contact & links

  • Laboratory of Food Analysis, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ghent University, Ottergemsesteenweg 460, Gent 9000 Belgium
  • Mytox
  • Food2Know