After my PhD training on cell cycle regulation in the lab of René Medema, I joined the internationally renowned lab of Michael Yaffe at MIT. Supported by NWO and EMBO fellowships, I could pursue my interest in DNA damage signalling in cancer. I partipated in the development of methods that predict novel kinase-substrate interactions based on mass-spectrometry data. When applied to DNA damage response pathways, we identified novel regulatory pathways that control cellular responses to DNA damage. Subsequently, I was able to implement this knowledge in an industry-like setting at the Institute for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). Here, I set up novel in-vitro systems to identify DNA-damaging compounds in complex mixtures. The resulting novel assays were subsequently implemented in commercial settings.
As principle investigator and Tenure Track Professor at the UMCG, I continue to study the cellular effects of DNA damage, aiming to better understand these mechanisms and to improve cancer therapy. To this end, I am now expanding the scope of my lab to include translational cancer research. My research group is part of the Medical Oncology Department, which is fully equipped to conduct molecular biology studies, and facilitates close collaborations with clinicians from the departments of Genetics, Medical Oncology, Surgical Oncology and Pathology. These collaborations allow us to translate fundamental biological insights on DNA damage response mechanisms into (pre-)clinical models with the ultimate goal of applying the knowledge of DNA damage responses to novel, patient-tailored treatments.