Amin Zolfaghari

CRIG member
Amin Zolfaghari

Doctoral fellow
- Department of Diagnostic Sciences (Faculty of Medicine and Health sciences)
- Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Center for Medical Genetics Ghent (Fac.of Med. & Health sciences)
- Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics (Thoracic Tumor Immunology Laboratory)
Principal investigators: prof. Bart Vandekerckhove (MD, PhD), prof. Björn Menten (PhD) and
                                            prof. Karim Vermaelen (MD, PhD)


Research focus

Lung cancer, the second most prevalent type of cancer, is the leading cause of cancer-related fatalities globally. Belgium alone recorded over 8000 diagnoses in 2018. The high incidence and mortality rates underscore the necessity for continuous research, accurate diagnosis, and effective therapeutic strategies. Until recently, lung cancer treatment primarily involved surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. However, the past decade has seen the rise of immunotherapy as a revolutionary option, demonstrating remarkable therapeutic outcomes. Similar to how viral infections introduce foreign antigens into the body, tumors possess their own unique set of mutant peptides, known as neoantigens, which serve as promising targets for immunotherapy.
The focus of my Ph.D. is to broaden the range of neoantigen identification in NSCLC patients. Historically, identification efforts have concentrated on a limited subset of these neoantigens, such as SNVs and small Indels. However, this study suggests using long-read RNA sequencing to uncover alternative sources of neoantigens, such as aberrant splicing events, intron retention, and RNA editing. These alternative RNA processing mechanisms can produce neoantigens with potential immunotherapeutic significance. Moreover, the study will evaluate the immunogenicity of the newly identified neoantigens through binding assays with MHC molecules and assessment of immune responses in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs).
In summary, this research aims to deepen our understanding of neoantigens in lung cancer and their pivotal role in immunotherapy. By expanding the repertoire of identifiable neoantigens, this study seeks to contribute to the development of personalized and effective therapeutic approaches for lung cancer patients. These approaches could include personalized vaccines or immunotherapies tailored to each patient’s specific neoantigens, potentially improving patient outcomes in the fight against lung cancer.


Master of Science in Molecular Biology with a specialized focus in Bioinformatics, from the University of Padova, complemented by a Bachelor’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology.

Contact & links

  • Lab address: campus UZ Gent, MRB2 (entrance 38), Corneel Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent
  • LinkedIn
  • Amin Zolfaghari is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks