dr. Anneleen Decock (PhD)

CRIG member
Anneleen Decock

Postdoctoral researcher - OncoRNALab, Center for Medical Genetics (UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Jo Vandesompele (PhD)


Research focus

The biggest challenges in cancer patient management are the use of more effective and less toxic treatment modalities, better and less invasive methods to diagnose disease, to select the right drug, to monitor treatment response and to identify relapse disease early-on. In my postdoctoral research, I aim to address several of these issues by the introduction of RNA-based liquid biopsy guided precision oncology. I will screen plasma extracellular RNA (exRNA) from cancer patients to identify actionable RNA biomarkers, such as mutations, fusion genes and copy number variations. The term ‘actionable’ indicates that the detected genetic aberration can directly orient a patient’s treatment approach. In parallel, using RNA capture sequencing, these liquid biopsies will also be screened for cancer-specific (long non-coding) RNA biomarkers that can be used for diagnosis, disease follow-up and early detection of cancer recurrence. The ultimate goal is to develop and apply molecular tools for more effective therapeutic management and to substantially increase the survival rates of cancer patients.


I received my master's degree in Biomedical Sciences from Ghent University in 2010. My master thesis, in which I studied the role of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate in the spread of apoptosis via gap junctions in C6-glioma, was awarded with the Joël Vandekerckhove price (supported by Devgen), for the best master thesis biomedical sciences in the academic year 2009-2010. Since October 2010, I have been working at the Center for Medical Genetics Ghent, in the Lab for functional cancer genomics and applied bioinformatics. I was supported by a PhD fellowship of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and an Emmanuel Van der Schueren research grant (VLK) to identify prognostic DNA methylation biomarkers for neuroblastoma. My research was rewarded by the Fournier-Majoie Foundation Valorization Award 2013, and at OncoPoint 2016 and 2017, I obtained the prize for best storm session presentation. In November 2016, I finalized my PhD and obtained a bridge fund from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences to continue my research career. In my postdoctoral research, I focus on the analysis of extracellular RNA in plasma from cancer patients and aim to develop and implement novel liquid biopsy-based biomarker tests for precision oncology in order to improve cancer management and outcome.

Key publications

  • Performance assessment of total RNA sequencing of human biofluids and extracellular vesicles. Scientific Reports, 2019 (PMID: 31772251)
  • Long noncoding RNA expression profiling in cancer: challenges and opportunities (2019). Genes, Chromosomes and Cancer, 2019 (PMID: 30461116)
  • Circulating microRNA biomarkers for metastatic disease in neuroblastoma patients. JCI Insight, 2018 (PMID: 30518699)
  • Stage 4S neuroblastoma tumors show a characteristic DNA methylation portrait. Epigenetics, 2016 (PMID: 27599161)
  • MYCN and HDAC5 transcriptionally repress CD9 to trigger an invasion-metastasis cascade in neuroblastoma. Oncotarget, 2016 (PMID: 27572323)
  • DNA methylation profiling of primary neuroblastoma tumors using methyl-CpG-binding domain sequencing. Scientific Data, 2016 (PMID: 26836295)
  • Methyl-CpG-binding domain sequencing reveals a prognostic methylation signature in neuroblastoma. Oncotarget, 2016 (PMID: 26646589)
  • Genome-wide promoter methylation analysis in neuroblastoma identifies prognostic methylation biomarkers. Genome Biology, 2012 (PMID: 23034519)
  • Neuroblastoma epigenetics: from candidate gene approaches to genome-wide screenings. Epigenetics, 2011 (PMID: 21725203)

Contact & links