dr. Maarten Haspeslagh (DVM, PhD)

CRIG member
Maarten Haspeslagh


Postdoctoral staff member – Large animal Surgery (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UGent)
Member of the Veterinary Oncology Network (CRIG VON)


Research focus

Equine sarcoids are skin tumors in the horse, caused by the bovine papillomavirus. The virus is known to cause traditional warts in cattle, but crosses the species-barrier and escapes the host’s immune system in the horse. It then expresses oncoproteins which deregulate housekeeping of fibroblast cells in the dermis, leading to tumoral growth. Our research focusses on transmission of the bovine papillomavirus and on the clinical aspects of disease management (accurate diagnostics and treatment). We strive to discover new treatment options by gaining insight in viral transmission and virus-host interactions. While the equine sarcoid is unique to the horse, the mechanisms responsible for immune-evasion and tumoral onset may be similar to those employed by other papillomaviruses known to cause cancer. Our research group also has experience with other skin cancers, namely melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.


Dr. Maarten Haspeslagh obtained a Master in Veterinary Medicine with a major in scientific research in 2011. After a short stay abroad, he joined the Department of Large Animal Surgery, Anaesthesia and Orthopaedics in 2012, where he combined clinical work with research focusing on diagnosis and treatment of the equine sarcoid. In 2017 he successfully defended his PhD. He stayed at the same department to complete a residency program in large animal surgery and now works there as a surgeon and lead researcher. His position and hands-on experience as both a scientist and clinician offers a unique perspective on the tumor he studies and while he is driven by clinical relevance, he believes the key to successful treatment can be found in the tumor microenvironment.

Research team

  • Prof. Ann Martens – principal investigator, full professor
  • Dr. Maarten Haspeslagh – postdoctoral staff member
  • Lien Gysens – doctoral fellow
  • Cindy De Baere – lab technician

Contact & links

  • Lab address: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine – Ghent University, Dept. of Large Animal Surgery, Anaesthesia and Orthopaedics, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke
  • VON (Veterinary Oncology Network)
  • Maarten Haspeslagh is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks