prof. Ward De Spiegelaere (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Ward De Spiegelaere


Principal investigator - Laboratory of Veterinary Morphology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine


Research focus

My research group has two main areas of interest: Veterinary Oncology and digital PCR.
We conduct basic research on canine tumours to better understand tumorigenesis, discover novel biomarkers, and explore potential treatment strategies. To generate patient-derived xenografts (PDX) of tumours, we use the chicken chorioallantoic membrane model (CAM). Additionally, we employ laser capture microdissection for spatial transcriptomic analysis of specific cell populations within tumours.
I'm also a member of the steering committee for the Ghent University Digital PCR Consortium. Our research focuses on investigating the application of this method in circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) of both human and veterinary patients, as digital PCR (dPCR) is a highly accurate technology used for nucleic acid quantification, making it ideally suited for high-plex targeted mutation screening.


Ward De Spiegelaere is associate Professor at the faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University. In 2005, he obtained his master’s degree in Biology (Zoology) and in 2011 he finished his PhD in Veterinary Sciences. 
His group has two main research focuses: Veterinary Oncology and digital PCR
He performs basic research on canine tumours with the aim to understand tumorigenesis, discover novel biomarkers and potential treatment strategies. The chicken chorioallantoic membrane model is being used to generate patient derived xenografts (PDX) of canine tumors. Laser capture microdissection for spatial transcriptomic analysis of specific cell populations within tumors. 
In the domain of digital PCR, he investigates the application of this method in various settings and focuses on developing novel data analysis pipelines for automated dPCR data analysis. He is also part of the steering committee of the Ghent Unversity digital PCR constortium. 
During his PhD research he focused on angiogenesis in the porcine developing kidney glomeruli for which he was awarded a prize for best publication in the field of embryology by the journal, Anatomia Histologia, Embryologia. After his PhD, he moved to the laboratory of Prof. Linos Vandekerckhove (Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Ghent University) to focus on HIV reservoir research. This group pioneered the use of digital PCR in HIV research 


Research team

Key publications

  • 'One cisplatin dose provides durable stimulation of anti-tumor immunity and alleviates anti-PD-1 resistance in an intraductal model for triple-negative breast cancer' ONCOIMMUNOLOGY 2022, PMID: 35898705  
  • 'Comparison of serum tryptase as a diagnostic oncological marker in canine versus human mast cell neoplasms' RESEARCH IN VETERINARY SCIENCE, 2022, PMID: 35872552
  • 'Power Doppler ultrasound and contrast-enhanced ultrasound demonstrate non-invasive tumour vascular response to anti-vascular therapy in canine cancer patients' SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 2019, PMID: 31239493 
  • 'A single dose of intravenous combretastatin A4-phosphate is reasonably well tolerated and significantly reduces tumour vascularization in canine spontaneous cancers' VETERINARY AND COMPARATIVE ONCOLOGY, 2018, PMID: 29797763 

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