Jan Van Landeghem
Doctoral fellow - Molecular and Cellular Oncology lab (UGent) – Inflammation Research Center (IRC)
Principal investigator: prof. Geert Berx
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive breast cancer subclass that represents 10-20% of cases. It is often infiltrated by immune cells and closely associated with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process in which epithelial cells gain mesenchymal traits and become motile. EMT-transcription factors, are frequently upregulated in TNBC and associated with poor prognosis. In the research group of Prof. Berx, we have identified a particular EMT-TF as crucial in the etiology and plasticity of TNBC using uniquely designed mouse models that allow controllable modulation of EMT. EMT has also been suggested to be important in the modulation of function and phenotypes of innate and adaptive immune cells that can be found within the tumour microenvironment, which may influence immunotherapeutic efficiency in many cancers, including breast cancer. Therefore, better understanding of the role of EMT in TNBC etiology is an essential step toward the development of effective novel breast cancer therapies.
My research is focused on understanding the role of EMT in TNBC, with particular focus on malignant transformation and the breast cancer-immune cell crosstalk, and how this can be targeted as novel cancer therapy.
I graduated in 2018 as a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Ghent University. During my master thesis at the group of Prof. Thomas Reinheckel (Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg), I investigated the role of cathepsins using human cancer cell lines representing different molecular subtypes of breast cancer.
In 2018 I started my PhD focusing on understanding the role of EMT in TNBC, which is an essential step toward the development of effective anti-TNBC therapeutic modalities.