prof. Steven Goossens (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Steven Goossens

Principal Investigator – Lab of Translational Oncology

Research focus

A better understanding of cancer initiation/progression on the molecular level will result in the identification of novel oncogenic drivers and tumor suppressors. Defining their mode of action will result in 1) improved, specific cancer therapies causing less side-effects and 2) lead to the identification of specific biomarkers necessary for patient stratification and patient tailored medicine. Both, specific drugs and biomarkers will allow personalized medicine, treating smaller groups of patients with highly specific drugs targeting aggressive subtypes of cancers.
The availability of reliable in vitro and in vivo models is essential for the identification of new compounds/biomarkers, to validate them, and to pave the way to pre-clinical testing of putative novel therapeutic strategies. Especially in the case of rare malignancies, this is the main hurdle to overcome. The main goal of our research is to perform top-level ‘bench-to-bedside’ translational research. Starting from a clinical need and patient samples, we  create, using a strong expertise in generating genetic models, reliable in vitro (e.g. by mimicking genetic aberrations in established cell lines, generate patient-derived primary cultures like induced pluripotent stem cells) and in vivo models (patient-derived xenografts, mimicking genetic aberrations in laboratory animals). These models allow us to identify novel tumor suppressors and oncogenes, define their mode of action, identify up/downstream drugable nodes and potential prognostic biomarkers using state-of-the-art genomics and proteomics, validate them and eventually screen for compounds that can perturb their oncogenic functions.

Research team


Key publications

  • 'Oncogenic ZEB activation drives sensitivity towards KDM1A inhibition in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia'. Blood, 2017. (PMID: 28069602)
  • 'Targeting BET proteins improves the therapeutic efficacy of BCL-2 inhibition in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia'. Leukemia, 2017. (PMID:28074072)
  • 'The EMT transcription factor Zeb2 controls adult murine hematopoietic differentiation by regulating cytokine signaling'. Blood, 2017. (PMID: 27683414)
  • 'Terminal NK cell maturation is controlled by concerted actions of T-bet and Zeb2 and is essential for melanoma rejection'. Journal of Experimental Medicine 2015 (PMID:26503444)
  •  'ZEB2 drives immature T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia via enhanced tumor-initiating potential and altered IL-7 receptor signalling'.  Nature Communications, 2015. (PMID:25565005)
  • 'ABT-199 mediated inhibition of BCL-2 as a novel therapeutic strategy in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia'. Blood, 2014. (PMID: 25301704)
  • 'Loss of autocrine endothelial-derived VEGF significantly reduces hemangiosarcoma development in conditional p53-deficient mice'. Cell Cycle, 2014. (PMID:24626176)
  • 'p53 promotes VEGF expression and angiogenesis in the absence of an intact p21-RB pathway'. Cell Death Differentiation, 2013. (PMID: 23449391)
  • 'A vascular niche and a VEGF/Nrp1 loop regulate the initiation and stemness of skin tumours'. Nature, 2011. (PMID: 22012397)


Contact & links

  • UZ Gent, Medical Research Building 2 (entrance 38 - 1st Floor, Room 110.006), Corneel Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent, Belgium