prof. Esther Hoste (PhD)

CRIG member
Esther Hoste

Assistant professor  – Unit for Cellular and Molecular (Patho)physiology,
Principal investigator – Subunit Keratinocyte microenvironment lab, Inflammation Research Center, VIB-UGent


Research focus

Although an association between tissue damage, chronic inflammation, fibrosis (or scarring) and cancer is well-established, little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms. I aim to investigate how the skin responds to stress by studying the molecules that mediate the interplay between different cell-types in injury repair and cancer. Given that wound repair, scarring and cancer are associated with an influx of immune cells, I propose to identify the molecules mediating this immune cell trafficking into skin. Modulating these signalling events through genetic or pharmacological intervention will elucidate their role in repair, fibrosis and cancer.
Furthermore, I aim to characterise the inflammatory, fibrotic and tumour-promoting activities of skin fibroblasts. Fibroblasts produce collagen and extracellular matrix and have the potential to suppress epithelial growth and cancer. However, following injury or in certain types of cancer, fibroblasts are activated to promote epithelial proliferation. I aim to identify molecules that tip the balance between the epithelial growth-inhibitory and -promoting roles of skin fibroblasts.


Previous professional appointments:

  • 2015: Pegasus FWO fellow at the Inflammation Research Center (VIB-UGent)
  • 2012-2015: Research Associate at the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine (King's College London).
  • 2010-2012: Marie Curie Experienced Researcher at the Cambridge Research Insitute (Cancer Research UK-Cambridge University).
  • 2004-2010: PhD student at Department for Molecular Biomedical Biology (VIB-UGent)

Research team

Key publications

  • Upregulation of CD26 expression in epithelial cells and stromal cells during wound-induced skin tumour formation'. Oncogene, 2012. (PMID: 21765471)
  • 'Epithelial stem cells, wound healing and cancer'. Nature Reviews in Cancer, 2012.
  • (PMID: 22362215)
  • 'Epidermal barrier defects link atopic dermatitis with altered skin cancer susceptibility'. Elife, 2014. (PMID: 24843010)
  • Innate sensing of microbial products promotes wound-induced skin cancer. Nature Communications, 2015. (PMID: 25575023)
  • Understanding allergy and cancer risk: what are the barriers? Nature Reviews in Cancer, 2015. (PMID: 25866857)

Contact & links