CRIG 'young investigator proof-of-concept projects’: laureates 9th call


CRIG provides research grants for young (postdoctoral) cancer researchers at CRIG to initiate potentially high-risk and innovative cancer research projects. In this 9th call, following postdocs were awarded, and have started their project this month:

  • dr. Cristopher J (CJ) Anderson‘Identification of death-dependent secreted metabolites from tumor and healthy epithelial cells’  (promotor of the grant: prof. Kodi Ravichandran) - It has been shown that cancer patients undergoing cytotoxic chemotherapy treatment have increased levels of intestinal cell death (particularly apoptosis) with corresponding alterations to their resident microbiota (‘dysbiosis’). In this project, CJ wants to identify the metabolites within the apoptotic supernatants that promote this dysbiosis after cancer therapies.
  • dr. Francisco Avila Cobos – ‘Development and validation of a computational deconvolution workflow for characterization of the immune cell repertoire from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of cancer patients treated with immunotherapy’ (promotor of the grant: prof. Pieter Mestdagh) - The immune cell composition of a patient's blood sample as defined by single cell technologies has been shown to be an important prognostic marker for his/her response to immune checkpoint inhibition. As these single cell technologies are not compatible with a clinical setting, Francisco wants to establish and optimize a computational framework that will eventually enable clinicians to obtain cell type proportions out of bulk RNA-sequencing data.
  • dr. Celine Everaert – ‘Changes in chromatin states of the systemic immune cell populations in ICI treated lung cancer patients’ (promotor of the grant: prof. Katleen De Preter) - In this project, Celine tries to develop a new method to identify immunotherapy responders based on a minimal-invasive blood-based test. More specifically, she will use single cell ATAC-seq on peripheral blood mononuclear cell from Immune checkpoint inhibitor treated patients to unravel the systemic immune differences between responders and non-responders. 
  • dr. Jonathan Maelfait – ‘Does ADAR1 inhibition trigger ZBP1-mediated cancer cell death?’ (promotor of the grant: prof. Peter Vandenabeele) - The RNA editing enzyme ADAR1 is an essential protein for cancer survival, but the mechanistic details behind this observation remain elusive. In this project, Jonathan will test his hypothesis that loss of ADAR1 activates ZBP1 and directly triggers cancer cell apoptosis.
  • dr. Charlotte Verroken – ‘Use of 18F-PSMA PET for detection of iodine refractory thyroid carcinomas’ (promotor of the grant: prof. David Creytens) - In a subgroup of patients with iodine-refractory thyroid carcinomas (RAI-RTC), standard PET tracers fail to identify recurring disease or associated metastases. In this project, Charlotte will investigate whether an 18F-PSMA PET tracer can answer this unmet clinical need.

Despite high quality of submitted projects, unfortunately only top-ranked applications were granted. The next call for these YIPOC projects will be launched during summer this year.