dr.Eva De Smedt (PhD)
CRIG Project and Communication Manager – Member of the CRIG Operational Committee
Function in CRIG
As Project and Communication Manager, I focus on communication towards different target audiences of CRIG, event organization (scientific, educational and more general events), fund raising and project management to maximize efficient cancer research at CRIG, in close collaboration with the CRIG coordinator and the CRIG steering committee.
I obtained my Master of Sciences Biochemistry & Biotechnology degree in 2013, with a focus on biomedical biotechnology. Given my strong interest in fundamental breast cancer research, I applied for and was granted a research fellowship from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO, 4 years) and an ‘Emmanuel van der Schueren’ finishing grant (Kom op tegen Kanker, 6 months) to continue my Master’s thesis research on the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition process in the Molecular and Cellular Oncology Lab of prof. Geert Berx.
In short, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is one of the key processes contributing to the malignant behavior of tumour cells. During this process, cells lose the capacity to adhere to another and acquire motile capacities, as such enabling them to invade the surrounding tissue, reach the blood stream and form distant metastases. Although essential in normal development, EMT is associated with the most aggressive human cancer subtypes. At the transcriptional level, EMT is regulated by several ‘master regulators’, like Snail, Twist, ZEB2 and ZEB1 transcription factors. During the last decade, more and more evidence has shown that these so-called EMT-TFs have more pleiotropic roles and control several key steps in tumour progression beyond invasion and metastasis. In my PhD project, we focused on further elucidating the role of the potent EMT-TF ZEB1 in breast cancer initiation and progression using several well established genetic mouse models for breast cancer.
Although I deeply enjoyed curiosity-driven fundamental research, my current ambition is to communicate about cancer research and to broadly support several cancer research activities rather than further focusing on one specific aspect of the disease in the lab. Moreover, I feel that the mission of CRIG to stimulate and accelerate cancer research by collaboration strongly matches my idealistic personality.