prof. Geert Berx (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Geert Berx

Principal investigator - Lab of Molecular and Cellular oncology
Professor - Faculty of Sciences, UGent
Former member and vice-chair of the CRIG steering committee (2019-2022)


Research focus

Our research interests are aimed at combating cancer by unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying malignant tumor progression. This is motivated by the fact that 90% of cancer patients die of metastasis and that metastatic dissemination of tumor cells is not only induced by genotypic or phenotypic changes within the tumor cells themselves but also by the microenvironment. More recently we became strongly interested in mechanisms of cellular plasticity. As such we developed interest in EMT, which currently focuses on the in vivo function of EMT-related transcription factors during inflammation driven cancer.
We use in vivo EMT models for melanoma, skin, ovarian and breast cancer, immunity and inflammation research and functional genomic techniques, single cell analysis, reversed genetic screenings to uncover gene-expression profiles, epigenetic changes and various signaling pathways that modulate EMT in immune and cancer cells


Geert Berx obtained his Ph.D. degree in Biotechnology from Ghent University, Belgium in 1995. From 1995 to 2003 he performed research with postdoctoral fellowships from the IWT and FWO of Belgium in which he followed multiple international training programs  for different molecular biology technologies. In 2003 he became an independent group leader at the VIB research institute in Ghent, heading the group of Molecular and Cellular Oncology. Since 2009 he is professor of Molecular Cancer Biology at Ghent University. Part of his work resulted in the discovery of the genetic inactivation of E-cadherin in lobular breast cancer today recognized as one of the most frequent genetic abberations in human breast cancer.  Berx has been a recipient of several awards, including the  the Henny C. Dirven Award for important advances in Breast Cancer Research.

Research team


Key publications

  • ‘E-cadherin is a tumour/invasion suppressor gene mutated in human lobular breast cancers’. Embo Journal, 1995, PMID: 8557030
  • ‘Cloning and characterization of the human invasion suppressor gene E-cadherin (CDH1)’. Genomics, 1995, PMID: 7601454
  • ‘The two-handed E box binding zinc finger protein SIP1 downregulates E-cadherin and induces invasion’. Molecular Cell, 2001, PMID: 11430829
  • ‘The transcription factor snail induces tumor cell invasion through modulation of the epithelial cell differentiation program’. Cancer Research, 2005, PMID: 11430829
  • ‘SIP1/ZEB2 induces EMT by repressing genes of different epithelial cell-cell junctions’. Nucleic acids research, 2005, PMID: 16314317
  • ‘A transient, EMT-linked loss of basement membranes indicates metastasis and poor survival in colorectal cancer’. Gastroenterology, 2006, PMID: 16952552
  • ‘Regulatory networks defining EMT during cancer initiation and progression. Nature Reviews Cancer, 2013, PMID: 23344542
  • ‘Epidermal Snail expression drives skin cancer initiation and progression through enhanced cytoprotection, epidermal stem/progenitor cell expansion and enhanced metastatic potential’. Cell Death and Differentiation. 2014, PMID: 24162662
  • ‘Identification of a ZEB2-MITF-ZEB1 transcriptional network that controls melanogenesis and melanoma progression. Cell Death and Differentiation’. 2014, PMID: 24769727
  • ‘Deregulation of the replisome factor MCMBP prompts oncogenesis in colorectal carcinomas through chromosomal instability. Neoplasia’. 2014, PMID: 25246271 


Contact & links

  • Geert Berx lab
  • Address: Molecular and Cellular Oncology Lab, Technologiepark 71, 9052 Ghent
  • prof. Berx is interested to receive invitations for talks or presentations