Research, Training and Education


Metastasis is the main cause of death for cancer patients. To colonize distant organs, cancer cells communicate with their environment to overcome obstacles such as infiltration of foreign tissues, survival in the circulation and adaptation to supportive niches. Although metastasis is an inefficient biological process; we currently fail to understand it, to prevent it and to have durable responses.
The Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Research (LECR) dedicates its resources to understand the communicative determinants between cancer cells and their host tissue. Mapping tumor-environment interactions will lead to the identification of disease- or therapy-associated biomarkers and to novel therapeutic targets. LECR is part of the Cancer Research Institute Ghent (CRIG), a joint initiative to promote cancer research between Ghent University, Ghent University Hospital and VIB (a life sciences research institute in Flanders).
The research in the Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Research can be clustered in two main research topics each of one driven by a principal investigator:

  1. The identification of adaptive communication skills between cancer cells and host cells (cancer-associated fibroblast) during metastasis and therapeutic intervention. This includes the design of patient-relevant, metastasis-related assays to promote the discovery of novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers (Prof. Olivier De Wever).
  2. Biological, diagnostic and therapeutic rationale of extracellular vesicles in tumor environment interactions during metastasis. This includes the pre-analytical, analytical and standardization issues to design international guidelines and standard operating procedures for clinical implementation in liquid biopsies and treatment (Prof. An Hendrix).


 LECR is an excellent training ground for PhD and post-docs. The lab environment provides technical skills and specialized knowledge on fundamental and preclinical research. Independent thinking, personal and professional development is nurtured by providing an interactive, cooperative and stimulating research environment. Lab members acquire valuable experience in leadership, collaborative skills, presentation, writing, editing, grant management, patent application, etc.


LECR is involved in Ghent University educational programs and international training programs. The "major cancer" in the master of Biomedical Sciences and the doctoral school specialist course "cancer" teach mechanistic and clinical insights into cancer development, progression and treatment. The "major cancer" and specialist course are organized in small class sizes, provides state-of-the-art insights/technology and is taught by expert faculty members. The EMBO/EMBL practical course on "extracellular vesicles" teaches state of the art skills in extracellular vesicle isolation/characterization methods and provides hands-on experience with the relevant techniques. The course is taught and organized by experts in the field.