Doctoral fellow - Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation; Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immnunology
Trainee Laboratory Medicine - Department of Clinical chemistry, microbiology and immunology, GE06 (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent)
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a hematological malignancy and the most common type of acute leukemia in adults and the second most frequent type in children, with on average 10-15 children diagnosed per year in Belgium. Despite clinical remission rates of approximately 90%, 30-40% of these children relapse within 3-5 year from diagnosis resulting in a 5 year overall survival rate of 65 -70%. Bone marrow transplantation remains the only option after relapse with a high therapyrelated mortality and morbidity. There is growing consensus that these relapses are due to the presence and outgrowth of a therapy resistant cell fraction denominated the Leukemic Stem Cells (LSCs) or the persistence of pre-leukemic hematopoietic stem cells (pre-L HSCs). These cell fractions have an unlimited self-renewal capacity and are capable to clonally expand and propagate leukemia at any unexpected moment. Within our research, we wish to further define the molecular and flow cytometric characteristics of these LSC and pre-L HSC fractions at different time points during therapy, in order to better understand the development of AML and the emergence of relapses. Ultimately, this project will provide novel insights into the molecular biology of AML, especially concerning stem cells, and give the opportunity to identify specific markers for the development of highly sensitive assays for measuring minimal residual disease and eventually the development of targeted drugs.
After studying Pharmaceutical Sciences, I started a master-after-master in the Clinical Biology. During this 5-year education, a passionate world of hematological malignancies opened to me. I learned how to adequately interpret and analyze flow cytometric and molecular data. I encountered the concept of minimal residual disease (MRD) detection and increased my expertise on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). My passion for the hematology is also reflected by my affiliation at the college, where I teach morphology skills in a hematoanatomopathology laboratory to 3th bachelor lab technicians. Combining state-of-the-art knowledge with practical lab investigations, I succeeded to develop autonomously a protocol for AML MRD measurements in the AZ St-Jan Hospital of Bruges which was presented at the monthly national meeting of the Clinical Biologists (Ghent, 19/12/2013). My acquired experience along the road as a trainee Laboratory Medicine encouraged me to write several publications (5 A1.1 published in Q1/Q2 journals of which 4 as first author, 1 published A1.2 and 1 A2 publication (both first author), 1 A1.1 article in preparation and 18 abstracts presented at (inter-)national with 3 that were selected for oral presentations. Furthermore, I was awarded as National laureate of the Young Scientist Society by the EFLM in 2012.
Contact & links
- Department of Clinical chemistry, microbiology and immunology, GE06, 2P8, UZ Gent, Corneel Heymanslaan 10, B-9000 Gent
- Google Scholar