Prof. Ann Martens (DVM, PhD)

CRIG member
Ann Martens

Full professor – Large Animal Surgery (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UGent)
Specialist in Equine Surgery


Research focus

Skin tumours are the most common neoplasms in horses and form an important therapeutical challenge. The most prevalent is the equine sarcoid, a bovine papilloma virus (BPV) induced fibroblastic skin tumour which can evolve from smal patches to large ulcerated masses compromising the horse’s welfare and use.
Our research focuses on the study of the pathogenesis of these tumours: the transmission and importance of the different BPV variants in the tumour development and the immune-evasive properties of the tumoural cells. As none of the presently available treatments is 100% effective, the search for new therapies, including both local and systemic immunotherapy, is a second focus of the equine sarcoid research line. Besides equine sarcoids, our research group also includes complementary projects on the diagnosis and management of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma’s and melanoma’s which are the second and third most prevalent equine neoplasms.


Prof. Ann Martens graduated in 1993 at Ghent University as ‘Doctor in Veterinary Medicine’ and immediately started het academic career at Ghent University. In 2000, she defended her PhD on the diagnosis and treatment of equine sarcoids and became a post-doctoral scientific staff member. In 2002, she became a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons (Specialist in Large Animal Surgery). Presently she is full professor in equine surgery and since 2022 dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

Research team

  • Dr. Maarten Haspeslagh (DVM, PhD) – postdoctoral staff member
  • Lien Gysens – doctoral fellow
  • Alexander Merchiers – doctoral fellow
  • Cindy De Baere – lab manager

Key publications

  • Immunogenicity analysis of BPV-1 positive equine sarcoid-derived cultured fibroblasts. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol., 2023. (PMID: 36621059)
  • Complete genomic characterization of bovine papillomavirus type 1 and 2 strains infers ongoing cross-species transmission between cattle and horses. Vet. J., 2023. (PMID: 37336425)
  • New approach for genomic characterization of equine sarcoid-derived BPV-1/-2. Virology J., 2022. (PMID: 34991633)
  • Cross-sectional comparison of superficial swab and fine-needle aspiration: improving the diagnostic workup of horses with equine sarcoids. Vet. J., 2022. (PMID: 36272685)
  • The possible role of Stomoxys calcitrans in equine sarcoid transmission. Vet. J., 2018. (PMID: 29429489)
  • Topical use of 5% acyclovir cream for the treatment of occult and verrucous equine sarcoids: a double-blinded placebo-controlled study. BMC Vet. Res., 2017. (PMID: 28985733)
  • Expression of p53, Ki67, EcPV2- and EcPV3 DNA and viral genes in relation to metastasis and outcome in equine penile and preputial squamous cell carcinoma. Equine Vet. J., 2015. (PMID: 24898479)

Contact & links

  • Lab address: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine – Ghent University, Dept. of Large Animal Surgery, Anaesthesia and Orthopaedics, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke