Computational Cancer Genomics and Tumour Evolution

Within this line of research, the 'Anatomy and Embryology Research Group' is using computational approaches to study tumour evolution in various cancer types based on somatic mutation patterns.

Somatic mutations are small DNA errors that accumulate during a lifetime, eventually resulting in the generation of a malignant tumour. Their patterns have the potential to identify new cancer genes, indicate specific cancer vulnerabilities, or unveil fundamental processes that occur during tumour evolution like tumour-immune interactions, the development of treatment resistance or metastatic behaviour.

Research projects

Immuno-editing and immune evasion mechanisms in the cancer genome

The human immune system has a key role in controlling tumour growth. This century-old idea has been reinforced in recent years due to the success of cancer therapies that modulate the immune system. However, different genomic alterations lead to evasion of this immune reaction and can result in a lack of immunotherapy response. This project aims to identify these alterations and understand how the cancer genome adapts to immune cell interactions during tumour evolution.


Mutational clonality in healthy tissues

Malignant tumour formation results from the sequential accumulation of somatic driver mutations. While these mutations have now been well-characterized in many primary tumours, little is known about their presence in the earliest phases of tumour evolution, which is expected to occur in healthy cells. This research project aims to identify and characterize early mutational clonality in different organs from which malignant tumour formation is known to occur frequently.


  • In silico clinical studies: Emmanuel Audenaert (Ghent University)
  • Data integration and biological networks in cancer: Kathleen Marchal (Ghent University)
  • ALK signalling in cancer: Bengt Hallberg and Ruth Palmer (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
  • UV mutagenesis: Erik Larsson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)



  • Jimmy Van den Eynden, researcher

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