Research activity per year

Personal profile


  • Head and neck cancer and precancer biology
  • Genomics and bioinformatics
  • Targeted therapy
  • Early cancer detection

Research interests

Our Head and neck cancer biology & immunology (HNCBI) research group at the Department of Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery focuses on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and the precancerous lesions from which these cancers arise with the ultimate aim to translate research findings to the clinic and improve diagnosis, treatment and surveillance. The major research themes are

- oncogenesis and genomics

- molecular diagnosis and early detection

- tumor-stroma interaction

- development and evaluation of novel treatments

After finishing a Master’s degree in Genomics and Bioinformatics at Utrecht University, I enrolled in a PhD project on functional genomics in the lab of Edwin Cuppen at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht (2007-2012). Following my PhD, I worked as a postdoc in the lab of Roderick Beijersbergen at the Dutch Cancer Institute (NKI) on targeted therapeutics and dynamic cell signaling. In 2016 I joined the laboratory of Head and neck cancer biology & immunology at Amsterdam UMC as a bioinformatician with wet-lab competence.

My focus in the group is the application of next-generation sequencing approaches to detect and classify head and neck cancer and precancerous lesions. We perform targeted deep sequencing to achieve sensitive cancer detection from non-invasive samples such as plasma and oral brushes or rinses. We specifically apply these technologies to genetically characterize and monitor oral leukoplakia, a potentially malignant disorder of the oral cavity. Similarly, we detect precancerous changes in the oral mucosa of Fanconi Anemia patients: individuals with a greatly increased risk of HNSCC due to their genetic predisposition. Our goal is to improve patient outcome through early detection and better risk stratification. Furthermore, genetic characterization of tumors and recurrences allow us to trace the evolutionary trajectory of tumors and gain insight into the carcinogenic process. Finally, I also oversee bioinformatics analyses of projects involving next-generation-sequencing including scRNA-seq and genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screens. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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