“As you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that your journey be a long one,
filled with adventure, filled with discovery.”

This quote has been an inspiration to me for many, many years. It fits both on a personal, and a professional level. Growing up in the countryside of the Netherlands, making lifelong friends and discovering that the only limitation in personal development is your own perseverance and imagination.

Our big step.

My wife and I moved to the U.S. in April 2016, which was a lifelong wish and dream of us, and we enjoy it to the fullest. Making beautiful trips, enjoying U.S. culture but also harnessing HealthCare. Lianne is a freelance editor and blogger. She writes articles about our live and encounters in the U.S. Click here to go to her website. In September 2018 we returned to Utrecht in the Netherlands. We brought home a life-long US souvenir, our new-born son.

Science? It’s like an almost impossible Jigsaw puzzle, not knowing which pieces you miss, done in the dark.”

I am an academic researcher and biomedical scientist specialized in advanced disease modeling of epithelial cancers, in particular from the breast. I have a passion for biomolecular techniques, interrogate cancer drivers and therapeutic implementation of such. I am broadly skilled in cell-based immunotherapies and cancer matrix remodeling.

Recent developments:

From 2022 onwards I was promoted to assistant professor. I manage multiple research lines, published successfully, and teach university courses and invested deeply in managing the European Lobular Breast Cancer Consortium ( We organized the first Dutch Lobular Breast Cancer symposium (ILC2022) and published a patient lealet in 15 languages. For my research, we clarified a novel pathway in low-grade breast cancers that adds on to the long-term dorment indolent behavior of the disease. We uncoupled the mechanism how the extra cellular matrix contributes to tumor invasiveness, and successfully collaborate with multiple research groups leading to impactfull studies. I spearheaded and managed the production of a large tissue micro array cohort of invasive breast cancers. Starting 2023 I was able to secure more funding to widly apply cell-based immunotherapies to models of breast cancer and how the cancer matrix hampers such.

The past:

My PhD-period was spent at Utrecht University in the Developmental Biology department led by Prof.dr. S.J.L. van den Heuvel in the research group of Dr. M. Boxem. During this period, I  successfully published in high-impact biomedical journals, enjoyed collaborations with research groups around the globe, had the honor to present at national and international conferences and was able to obtain personal funding. In 2016, I successfully defended my thesis and was awarded with the “PhD Student of the year award”.

Two of my greatest passions are supervising/teaching and communicating Science to the general public. In the lab I have had the pleasure to supervise many students on all educational levels.  It makes me proud to see them thrive and enjoy science.

After my PhD,  and before emigrating to the U.S. I shortly worked as a lecturer/researcher at the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen to strengthen and enhance my teaching, supervising and managing skills. Here, I not only taught Developmental Biology, Biochemistry, and Cancer Biology on both a theoretical and practical classes but was also involved in providing career advice and aiding in their professional development. Till this day I’m still in touch with many of my students.

For my first postdoc, funded by and EMBO Long-Term fellowship, I worked at the Mass General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston U.S. I conducted research in the group of Prof.dr. McClatchey, where we focus on translating Cell Polarity and proliferative cue’s to Breast Cancer progression in vivo, in vitro and with a bioengineered model. This with a specific focus on the tumor suppressor gene Neurofibromatosis Type 2 and relate this to patient-derived mutations to identify therapeutic vulnerabilities.

The MGH Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School offered an exciting and dynamic research environment. I had the oppertunity to attend wonderful seminars of scientific leaders from across the world and participate in workshops and courses. One of those in particularly was an extensive course on how to translate fundamental research to clinical applications.

As my EMBO fellowship came to an end, I decided that I wanted to continue my work in an environment closer to patients but still pursuing fundamental questions that may lead to clinical implications. Therefor, In October 2019, I started my second postdoc in Utrecht as part of the European MechanoControl Consortium and the UMC Utrecht Pathology department, in the Lab of Prof. Dr. Patrick Derksen which is specialized in the molecular and clinical applications of Breast Cancer progression.

I highly enjoyed volunteering at “De Vereninging de Zonnebloem” which supports and connects people that are physically disabled or that are lonely and in need of some company. The personal connection you develop with the people you meet is astonishing. I started as a regular visitor where you weekly meet up with a person in need, assisting during planned activities such as playing games in elderly homes, pushing wheel chairs on outings and went on a holiday group to give elderly a much needed nice week getaway. Soon I joined the committee of Utrecht-Noord, became a board member, and was responsible for organizing activities and partially responsible for the finances. I much enjoyed the close collaboration in reaching the mutual goal of making people in need happy with just simple things.

In my free time, I like to socialize with friends, playing board games and have diner together. I also much enjoy a comfy Sunday afternoon at home. Furthermore, I play piano, love photography, the History of Arts and a variety of sports. During the spring and foliage, we liked to go out for hikes, which are beautiful in New England. We traveled both the East and West coast of the U.S., met exciting people and have many stories and even more useless facts about U.S. culture.

After a long and strenuous hike we reached the Appalachian trail on the summit of Mount Saddleback in Maine.