dr. Ioanna Petta (PhD)

CRIG member
Ioanna Petta

Post-Doctoral Research scientist – Stichting Tegen Kanker Laureate (2021 – 2025) – Host-Microbiota Interaction (HMI) Lab and Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Lab (VIB/UGent/UZ Gent), Inflammation Research Center (IRC)/ VIB-UGent & Gent Gut Inflammation Research Group (GGIG)
Principal investigator: prof. Lars Vereecke


Research focus

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the 2nd most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths in Belgium and the third most common type of cancer world-wide making up about 10 % of all cases.
Interestingly, CRC mainly affects people in Western society, indicating a strong contribution of environmental factors linked to Western lifestyle.
Changes in the gut microbiota have been associated to a myriad of human diseases, and increasing evidence is emerging that also CRC development is mitigated by bacterial-host interactions.
In my research project, I aim to unravel mechanisms underlying the involvement of microbiota in the CRC onset and progression.
As model we use a fast and 100% penetrant CRC transgenic mouse model which is microbiome dependent.
Additionally, I make use of the germ-free technology that gives me the opportunity to generate gnotobiotic mice and study in depth specific bacterial strains involved in the disease.
Moreover, we aim to study dietary interventions that impact microbiome composition and CRC development.
During the last decade there is an increased interest in the investigation of microbiome in various diseases.
We believe that our research is interesting for scientists in the microbiome and cancer field, since specific microbiome profiles may be shared among different diseases, thus improving the understanding on different disease mechanisms. 


I obtained my BSc in Biology and MSc in Biotechnology from the University of Patras in  Greece.
In 2010, I was awarded the VIB scholarship for International PhD students, which gave me the opportunity to relocate in Belgium and perform my doctoral studies in a joint project in the labs of Prof. Claude Libert (IRC/VIB/UGent) and Prof. Jan Tavernier (MBC/VIB/UGent).
Thereafter, I continued my research as a post-doctoral scientist at the lab of Prof. Markus Kleinewietfeld (UHasselt/VIB), where I gain more insights into immunology and autoimmune diseases.
Since 2018, I am a post-doctoral scientist at the lab of Prof. Lars Vereecke with a main focus on gut microbiota and cancer immunology.

Key publications

  • Ileal immune tonus is a prognosis marker of proximal colon cancer in mice and patients. Cell Death and Differentiation. 2021, PMID: 33262469 
  • Zeb2 drives invasive and microbiota-dependent colon carcinoma. Nature Cancer, 2020
  • Physical and functional interaction between A20 and ATG16L1-WD40 domain in the control of intestinal homeostasis. Nature Communications, 2019. PMID: 31015422
  • Risks and benefits of corticosteroids in arthritic diseases in the clinic. Biochemical pharmacology, 2019. PMID: 30978323 
  • Interrelation of Diet, Gut Microbiome, and Autoantibody Production. Frontiers in Immunology, 2018. PMID: 29559977
  • Glucocorticoid Receptor-mediated transactivation is hampered by Striatin-3, a novel interaction partner of the receptor. Scientific reports, 2017. PMID: 28827617
  • Modulation of Protein-Protein Interactions for the Development of Novel Therapeutics. Molecular Therapy, 2016. PMID: 26675501
  • The Interactome of the Glucocorticoid Receptor and Its Influence on the Actions of Glucocorticoids in Combatting Inflammatory and Infectious Diseases. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 2016. PMID: 27169854
  •  Proteome-scale Binary Interactomics in Human Cells. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 2016. PMID: 27803151 
  •  Dominance of the strongest: inflammatory cytokines versus glucocorticoids. Cytokine Growth Factor Reviews. 2014, PMID: 24412262
  •  LPS resistance of SPRET/Ei mice is mediated by Gilz, encoded by the Tsc22d3 gene on the X chromosome. EMBO Molecular Medicine. 2013, PMID: 23495141

Contact & links

  • Lab Address: Campus UZ Gent, MRBII building (entrance 38), Corneel Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • Inflammation Research Center (IRC), VIB, Ghent
  • Ghent Gut Inflammation Group (GGIG), Ghent 
  • Ioanna Petta is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks