dr. Gert Van Peer (PhD)

CRIG member
Gert Van Peer

Postdoctoral researcher - Katleen De Preter Lab
Principal investigator: prof. Katleen De Preter (PhD) 


Research focus

Although personalized therapy has revolutionized cancer care during the past decades, drug resistance and relapse remain major hurdles to overcome. A better understanding of drug resistance mechanisms and their timely tracking and prevention represent areas of urgent unmet clinical need. While novel or clonally selected genetic lesions, including DNA mutations and copy number changes, are well-known causes of therapy failure, emerging evidence supports a role for non-genetic/epigenetic heterogeneity and plasticity in escaping therapy pressure. As a result, there is a growing demand for robust and minimally invasive tools to study epigenetic plasticity in relation to therapy failure.

The EpiGuide project aims to establish a blood-based monitoring tool to trace epigenetic mechanisms driving development of drug resistance. The envisioned EpiGuide assay measures methylation and histone modifications of circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) shedded by tumor cells into the blood plasma and translates this signal into the fractional presence of epigenetic cell states in the tumor through computational deconvolution. Next to studying the temporal and spatial dynamics of epigenetic switches in relation to drug resistance and patient outcome, the long-term goal is to bring the EpiGuide assay into clinical practice and guide patient-tailored and disease state-adapted therapy selection. 


  • 2009 - 2015, PhD fellow (Ghent University)
    PhD in Biomedical Sciences focused on miRNA target identification in oncology through high-throughput screening and predictive model building.
  • 2014 - 2018, R&D Scientist (Biogazelle)
    R&D scientist leading Biogazelle's internal drug development program aimed at discovering driver long non-coding RNA targets in colon, liver and lung cancer and subsequent targeting with antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) drugs.
  • 2018 - 2021, CRO Scientist (Biogazelle)
    - Subject matter expert of Biogazelle’s ASO drug screening service platform.
    - CRO scientist leading customer-sponsored, transcriptomic studies with high R&D component in ISO17025-certified environment.
  • 2021 - 2023, R&D Unit Manager (Biogazelle)
    Responsible for managing Biogazelle’s R&D unit, developing new transcriptomic applications (mainly based on RNA sequencing, qPCR, digital PCR) for precision medicine.
  • 2023 - current (VIB, Translational Oncogenomics & Bioinformatics lab)
    Postdoctoral scientist  

Key publications

  • A  high-throughput 3’UTR reporter screening identifies microRNA interactomes of cancer genes. PloS One, 2018. (PMID: 29522551)
  • MYCN-driven regulatory mechanisms controlling LIN28B in neuroblastoma. Cancer Letters, 2015. (PMID: 26123663)
  • MYCN-targeting miRNAs are predominantly downregulated during MYCN-driven neuroblastoma tumor formation. Oncotarget, 2015. (PMID: 25294817)
  • MicroRNA-193b-3p acts as a tumor suppressor by targeting the MYB oncogene in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Leukemia, 2015. (PMID: 25231743)
  • MicroRNA-128-3p is a novel oncomiR targeting PHF6 in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Haematologica, 2014. (PMID: 24895337)
  • Effective Alu repeat based RT-qPCR normalization in cancer cell perturbation experiments. PloS One, 2013. (PMID: 23977142)
  • Genome-wide promoter methylation analysis in neuroblastoma identifies prognostic methylation biomarkers. Genome Biology, 2012. (PMID: 23034519)
  • The miR-17-92 microRNA cluster regulates multiple components of the TGF-β pathway in neuroblastoma. Molecular Cell, 2010. (PMID: 21145484)

Contact & links

  • Lab address:  De Preter lab, VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology, UGent-VIB Research Building, FSVMII, Technologiepark 75, 9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium
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