prof. Frank Speleman (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Frank Speleman

Principal Investigator – The Pediatric Precision Oncology Lab (PPOL), Department of Biomolecular Medicine (UGent)
Full professor (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent)
Co-founder of CRIG


Research focus

The Pediatric Precision Oncology Lab (PPOL) focuses on perturbed gene regulatory processes in pediatric cancer, more specifically neuroblastoma (NB). NB is an embryonal pediatric tumor arising from progenitor cells that give rise to the sympathetic nervous system. Within the PPOL lab, our team aims to gain deeper insights into neuroblastoma biology as entry point for the development of novel targeted combination therapies. We explore the role of nonmutated dependency genes with focus on genes located in region of recurrent gains or losses such as transcription factors (e.g. SOX11) and genes implicated in control of replicative stress (e.g. RRM2). A strong focus currently goes towards exploring drugging the ATR-CHK1-RRM2 axis as potential important drugging vulnerability in NB. To this end, the lab uses in vitro cellular model systems, patient derived xenografts and in vivo mouse and zebrafish modeling. Responses to novel drug combinations are evaluated through state-of-the art transcriptome, epigenome and proteome analyses including also novel spatial omics platforms. This ongoing research is part of the  GOA-REINFORCE research program which the PPOL lab recently initiated with several CRIG members (Jo Vandesompele, Sven Eyckerman, Charlotte Scott, Steven Goossens, Katleen De Preter).

Expertise to offer

The PPOL lab has ample expertise in genomics, transcriptomics and epigenomics (including CUT and RUN for epigenetic marks) and is willing to share this expertise in the context of academic collaboration.

Research team

Key publications

  • 'SOX11 regulates SWI/SNF complex components as member of the adrenergic neuroblastoma core regulatory circuitry'. Nat Commun 14, 1267 (2023)
  • 'RRM2 enhances MYCN-driven neuroblastoma formation and acts as a synergistic target with CHK1 inhibition'. Science Advances, 13 Jul 2022, Vol 8, Issue 28, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn1382
  • 'TBX2 is a neuroblastoma core regulatory circuitry component enhancing MYCN/FOXM1 reactivation of DREAM targets.' Nat Commun, 2018 (PMID: 30451831)
  • ‘Long noncoding RNA signatures define oncogenic subtypes in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia’. Leukemia, 2016. (PMID: 27168467)
  • 'Targeting MYCN-driven Transcription by BET-bromodomain Inhibition'. Clinical Cancer Research, 2016. (PMID: 26631615)
  • 'Upregulation of MAPK Negative Feedback Regulators and RET in Mutant ALK Neuroblastoma: Implications for Targeted Treatment'. Clinical Cancer Research, 2015. (PMID: 25805801)
  • ‘Mutational Dynamics Between Primary and Relapse Neuroblastomas’. Nature Genetics, 2015. (PMID: 26121086)
  • ‘A cooperative microRNA-tumor suppressor gene network in acute T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL)’. Nature Genetics, 2011. (PMID: 21642990)
  • 'MYCN-driven Regulatory Mechanisms Controlling LIN28B in Neuroblastoma'. Cancer Letters, 2015. (PMID: 26123663)
  • ‘PHF6 mutations in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia’. Nature Genetics, 2010.  (PMID: 20228800)
  • ‘Human fetal neuroblast and neuroblastoma transcriptome analysis confirms neuroblast origin and highlights neuroblastoma candidate genes’. Genome Biology, 2007. (PMID: 16989664)
  • ‘Unequivocal delineation of clinicogenetic subgroups and development of a new model for improved outcome prediction in neuroblastoma’. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2005. (PMID: 15800319)

Contact & links

  • Center for Medical Genetics Ghent (CMGG), Medical Research Building 1 (MRB1) Room 120.032, Corneel Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • PPOL Lab 
  • X (former Twitter)
  • prof. Speleman is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks