dr. Sigrid Verhelst (PhD)

CRIG member
Sigrid Verhelst

Postdoctoral researcher  – Lab of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Department of Pharmaceutics (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Dieter Deforce (PhD)

Research focus

Histones and their post-translational modifications (PTMs) are pivotal in orchestrating gene expression. Consequently, even minor disturbances in the histone profile may have significant consequences such as the development of cancer or autoimmune and neurological disorders. As a result, screening for such epigenetic changes during toxicity testing, particularly in drug development, holds considerable interest.

My PhD therefore primarily focused on optimizing the workflow to investigate histone PTMs and applying it to study changes in these modifications following treatment with various drugs and compounds of abuse. These changes could serve as indicators of potential toxicity by disrupting the normal equilibrium within biological systems, potentially contributing to the onset of cancer.

During my postdoctoral research, further refinements to this workflow will be accompanied by exploration into the potential of histone adductomics. Adductomics investigates the formation and presence of adducts resulting from the interaction between reactive compounds and biological molecules after exposure to xenobiotics. Currently, the focus primarily centers on DNA adducts due to their direct correlation with mutagenesis and subsequent carcinogenesis. However, my research endeavors pivot towards exploring adducts introduced onto histones. Given the critical role of histone (PTMs) in epigenetic regulation, it is hypothesized that these histone adducts may elicit undesirable responses, potentially leading to toxic effects such as cancer development. Presently, DNA adductomics already plays a significant role in elucidating the link between exposure to carcinogens and cancer onset by identifying and quantifying specific adducts formed by carcinogenic compounds. In my research, the objective is to establish histone adductomics as a means to gain valuable insights into exposure to environmental or dietary carcinogens.


  • Postdoctoral researcher, Ghent University, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (2023-current)
  • PhD Fellowship of Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Ghent University, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (2019-2023)
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences – Pharmaceutical Care (2017-2019)
  • Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (2014-2017)

Contact & links

  • Lab address: Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Campus Heymans, Ottergemsesteenweg 460, B - 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • ProGenTomics 
  • Sigrid Verhelst is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks