dr. Lisa Depestel (PhD)

CRIG member
Lisa Depestel

Postdoctoral researcher - Pediatric Precision Oncology Lab  (PPOL) Ghent, Center for Medical Genetics (Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Frank Speleman (PhD) and prof. dr. Kaat Durinck (PhD) 


Research focus

Neuroblastoma is a pediatric tumor arising from immature sympathoblasts of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system. The currently employed intensive therapies for high-risk cases still achieves disappointingly low perspective for cure, with less than 50% survival rates. In addition, patients that do survive suffer from serious long-term side-effects, including secondary cancer later in life. Therefore, it is necessary to explore more efficient and less harmful therapeutic alternatives. Given this urgent medical need, we aim to better understand the molecular basis of tumorigenesis to allow identification of putative new therapeutic targets and/or new biomarkers to predict tumor progression and therapeutic responses. 
Some tumors, including neuroblastoma cells, undergo increased replication fork stalling and replicative stress, which makes these cells more dependent on proteins implicated in cell cycle regulation, checkpoint control and replicative stress response pathways to overcome genomic instability and apoptosis, while allowing high proliferation status. During my postdoctoral fellowship, I will further build upon the interesting observations I obtained during my PhD regarding the dependency of neuroblastoma cells on these replicative stress and DNA damage response pathways; while further exploring their therapeutic potential using both in vitro as well as in vivo models.   


In 2017, I obtained my Master's degree in Biomedical Sciences with a major in Genetics at the University of Ghent.
Subsequently, I immediately became a full-time doctoral fellow at the lab of prof. dr. Frank Speleman, focussing on in vivo and in vitro neuroblastoma modeling.
After obtaining my PhD in September 2023, I continued my research as a post doctoral fellow in the PPOL lab of prof. dr. Frank Speleman and prof. dr. Kaat Durinck.   

Key publications

  • 'The chromatin reader PHF6 regulates replication stress and DNA damage responses through interaction with RRM2'. BioRxiv, 2023. (ID: 2023.03.08.531704) 
  • 'RRM2 enhances MYCN driven neuroblastoma formation and acts as a synergistic target with CHK1 inhibition'. Science Advances, 2022. (PMID: 35857500)
  • 'PHF6 Expression Levels Impact Human Hematopoietic Stem Cell Differentiation'. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 2020. (PMID: 33251223)
  • 'A novel TLX1-driven T-ALL zebrafish model: comparative genomic analysis with other leukemia models'. Leukemia, 2020. (PMID: 32591643)
  • 'Purification of high-quality RNA from a small number of fluorescence activated cell sorted zebrafish cells for RNA sequencing purposes'. BMC Genomics, 2019 (PMID: 30894119)  

Contact & links