prof. Lynn Vanhaecke (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Lynn Vanhaecke

Principal investigator - Lab of Chemical Analysis, Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UGent)
Associate professor (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UGent)


Research focus

For many conditions, linked to poor gut health and in particular colorectal cancer, personalized preventive strategies and diagnostic, prognostic or predictive biomarkers of disease are lacking today. It is our believe that unravelling the molecular basis by which the exposome (diet, gut microbiome, etc.) impacts the human metabolome may adress this hurdle. Therefore our research aims to 1. develop a true molecular high-resolution mass spectometry based metabolomics platform (including both polar to medium apolar metabolites, lipidomics and DNA adductomics) to discriminate the metabolic phenotypes of healthy and diseased individuals (human and animal studies), and 2. to unravel the impact of the exposome on host metabolome (e.g. impact of red meat consumption on digestive metabolome in relation to CRC promotion). In this context methodologies for the most frequently reported specimens that allow exploring systemic alterations of metabolites in humans (i.e. tissue, blood and urine) are available at LCA. Besides, a novel methodology for polar metabolites in feces was recently developed and succesfully validated (Vanden Bussche et al., 2015) and a new methodology for fecal lipidomics has currently been finalized (Van Meulebroek et al., in preparation). Indeed, in relation to gut health, feces comprises a rich source of information that allows complex interactions between the gut microbiota and the host to be studied and reflects the dietary input and biochemical events that have occurred during digestion best. Additionally, methodologies for DNA adductomics, a recently breached branch of metabolomics have been succesfully optimized in recent years (o.a. Hemeryck et al. 2015). The application of the above mentioned methodologies for the discovery of reliable and robust biomarkers to enable early diagnosis, screening, surveillance, and primary prevention of the disease through e.g. dietary recommendations belongs to our current research objectives. 


Lynn Vanhaecke was born in 1981 in Bruges, Belgium. Following her undergraduate studies as a Master in Bioscience Engineering, from 2004 until 2008 she was affiliated with the Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University as a PhD student. During this period her research focused on the impact of the human intestinal microbiota on the metabolism and genotoxicity of meat carcinogens. In 2008 she graduated as a PhD in Bioscience Engineering and shifted to the Laboratory of Chemical Analysis within the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety at Ghent University, where she was appointed as doctor-assistant prior to obtaining a postdoctoral fellowship from the Flemish Science Foundation (FWO). In October 2011 she was appointed as assistant professor, in october 2016 as associate professor at the Laboratory of Chemical Analysis (LCA). The chemical analyses of food, the metabolism and biological activity of food constituents and the analysis of small molecules (residues, contaminants, metabolites) including DNA adducts using advanced mass spectrometric techniques in biological matrices in relation to human health comprises her major expertise now. She is author and co-author of more than 130 peer-reviewed international publications and panel member of the gamma working group of the UGent Special Research Fund (BOF).

Research team

  • Prof. Lynn Vanhaecke - principal investigator, full professor
  • Dr. Lieven Van Meulebroek - post-doctoral fellow
  • Dr. Lieselot Hemeryck - post-doctoral fellow 
  • Caroline Rombouts - doctoral fellow   
  • Beata Pomian - technician
  • Dirk Stockx -technician 

Key publications

  • 'Intestinal bacteria metabolize the dietary carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine following consumption of a single cooked chicken meal in humans.' Food and chemical Toxicology, 2008. (PMID: 17766021)
  • 'The microbial PhIP metabolite 7-hydroxy-5-methyl-3-phenyl-6,7,8,9-tetrahydropyrido[3 ',2 ': 4,5]imidazo[1,2-a]pyrimidin-5-ium chloride (PhIP-M1) induces DNA damage, apoptosis and cell cycle arrest towards Caco-2 cells' Toxicology Letters, 2008. (PMID: 18375078)
  • 'An approach based on ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to quantify O6-methyl and O6-carboxymethylguanine DNA adducts in intestinal cell lines.' Journal of Chromatography A, 2012. (PMID: 22921361)
  • 'Fat content and nitrite-curing influence the formation of oxidation products and NOC-specific DNA adducts during in vitro digestion of meat.' PLoS One, 2014. (PMID: 24978825)
  • 'Nitrite curing of chicken, pork, and beef inhibits oxidation but does not affect N-nitroso compound (NOC)-specific DNA adduct formation during in vitro digestion.' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2014. (PMID: 24499368)
  • 'O⁶-carboxymethylguanine DNA adduct formation and lipid peroxidation upon in vitro gastrointestinal digestion of haem-rich meat.' Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 2014. (PMID: 24990219)
  • 'Increased oxidative and nitrosative reactions during digestion could contribute to the association between well-done red meat consumption and colorectal cancer.' Food Chemistry, 2015. (PMID: 25976994)
  • 'High resolution mass spectrometry based profiling of diet-related deoxyribonucleic acid adducts.' Analytica Chimica Acta, 2015. (PMID: 26388482)
  • 'Reducing Compounds Equivocally Influence Oxidation during Digestion of a High-Fat Beef Product, which Promotes Cytotoxicity in Colorectal Carcinoma Cell Lines.' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2016. (PMID: 26836477)
  • 'Diet-related DNA adduct formation in relation to carcinogenesis.' Nutrition Reviews, 2016. (PMID: 27330144)
  • 'Mass Spectrometric Mapping of the DNA Adductome as a Means to Study Genotoxin Exposure, Metabolism, and Effect.' Analytical Chemistry, 2016. (PMID: 27362284)  

Contact & links

  • Salisburylaan 133, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium 
  • LinkedIn
  • prof. Vanhaecke is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks