prof. Celine Everaert (PhD)
An increasing number of lung cancer patients undergoes treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), hence, only 20 to 45% of patients will respond. Nevertheless, existing predictive biomarkers cannot accurately separate non-responders from responders and require invasive tumor tissue sampling. Lately, evidence accumulates that tumor regressions under ICIs are reflected by changes in specific immune cells in peripheral blood. That’s why I aim to develop a blood-based test that interrogates these systemic immune profile signatures. The prediction of immune cell types on bulk samples will be guided by single cell data. The predicted immune content will subsequently be used as an input to train predictive models for immunotherapy response. Additionally, I will map the immune interactome of responders and non-responders, sampled from the tumor microenvironment, lymph nodes and blood, to explore differences. In conclusion, this research project will bring us closer to deliver a non-invasive test for immunotherapy-treated lung cancer patients and understand the differences between responders and non-responders.
Celine obtained a Master in Biochemistry and Biotechnology with a major in Bioinformatics and System Biology followed by a Teacher Education. Prior to being a full-time doctoral fellow in the lab of prof. Pieter Mestdagh and prof. Jo Vandesompele, Celine was a lecturer at Ghent University College HoGent. As a PhD student, Celine worked on the development of extracellular RNA sequencing technologies and applications for cancer diagnosis and monitoring. Her research was funded by an FWO fellowship. Currently, Celine is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of prof. Katleen De Preter.
During her PhD, Celine got the opportunity to talk about her research at several national (Oncopoint, Ftales) and international events (EMBL meeting, Keystone Conference Series). Besides communicating to a scientific public, Celine likes to explain her research in front of high school students and the general public. She participated in multiple initiatives such as ‘Wetenschap Uitgedokterd’ and ‘Pint of Science’. Her presentation skills have lead to several awards.
As a bioinformatician, and the daughter of a graphical designer, Celine has a special interest in data visualization. In 2019, she received a Vocatio award to further develop interactive visualization skills and to disseminate her knowledge to others.
- SPECS: a non-parametric method to identify tissue-specific molecular features for unbalance sample groups. BMC Bioinformatics 2020
- Performance assessment of total RNA sequencing of human biofluids and extracellular vesicles. Scientific Reports 2019
- SMARTer single cell total RNA sequencing. Nucleic Acids Research 2019
- Benchmarking of RNA-sequencing analysis workflows using whole-transcriptome RT-qPCR expression data. Scientific Reports 2017