CANBIO - PhD Training Program

Participating research groups

NorLux - Neuro-Oncology Laboratory, LIH

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Prof Rolf Bjerkvig

Director of Department and CANBIO supervisor

Prof Rolf Bjerkvig is Head of the Department of Oncology since January 2011. He currently holds the position of Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is also director of the KG Jebsen Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Bergen. His primary interests are the elucidation of the mechanisms of tumour cell migration within the central nervous system and mechanisms of tumour angiogenesis and therapeutic approaches for the prevention of angiogenesis in brain tumours. Prof Bjerkvig has been honoured with numerous international science awards for his research in oncology

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Prof Simone Niclou

Head of Unit and CANBIO coordinator, supervisor and co-supervisor

Prof Niclou is Head of the NorLux Neuro-Oncology Laboratory. Her laboratory has a strong expertise in patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models for brain tumours and a long-standing interest in the biological mechanisms leading to glioma. Her current research interests focus on brain tumour metabolism, angiogenesis, invasion, tumour heterogeneity and tumour-host interactions. Prof Niclou is also adjunct professor at the University of Bergen in Norway, where she is associated with the KG Jebsen Brain Tumour Research Centre.

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Dr Anna Golebiewska

Researcher and CANBIO co-supervisor

Dr Golebiewska has a background in molecular and cellular biology and obtained her PhD in the field of stem cell research.  She joined LIH in 2008 and since then her work focuses on understanding brain tumour biology and development of clinically relevant animal models. She is particularly interested in the various aspects of tumour heterogeneity, clonal evolution and the cancer stem cell hypothesis. Her current projects aim to tackle adaptive capacities of brain tumour cells to survive in various tumour microenvironments.

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Dr Alessandro Michelucci

Researcher and CANBIO supervisor

Dr Michelucci is a cellular and molecular biologist focused on glial cells and neuroinflammation in brain disorders, such as brain tumours and neurodegenerative diseases. His current research is focused on studying the molecular mechanisms of glioma microenvironment. Specifically, he investigates the contribution of microglia/macrophages in intrinsic tumour escape mechanisms by analysing their phenotypic and functional adaptation in the tumorigenic process in order to reprogram them to promote anti-tumour activities. In 2014, he received an “FNR Award for Outstanding Scientific Publication” for the discovery of the function of a key gene implicated in the emerging field of immunometabolism.

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Dr Eric Van Dyck

Principal investigator and CANBIO supervisor and co-supervisor

Dr Van Dyck is the head of the “DNA Repair and Chemoresistance” research group. Following his PhD, he carried out postdoctoral projects at Stanford University and Cancer Research UK. He also worked as principal investigator at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO). His current research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair and chemoresistance in glioblastoma, as well as the epigenetic consequences of the IDH1 mutation. Major contributions include the biochemical dissection of the role of human RAD51 and RAD52 in the recombinational repair of DNA double-strand breaks. He holds collaborations amongst others with researchers from the Beijing Institute of Genomics, China, Oslo University Hospital and University of Bergen, Norway, University of Laval, Québec, and Uniklinik Köln, Germany.

Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Research, LIH

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Dr Guy Berchem

Head of Unit and CANBIO co-supervisor

Dr Berchem is a medical oncologist who graduated from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in 1990 and subsequently worked at Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, Belgium, and at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Centre, US. He carried out his PhD on the hypoxic stress-regulated NK cell immune response at University Paris-Sud, France. In 2003, he founded the Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Research. He also holds a clinical position at Centre Hospitalier in Luxembourg where he heads the Oncology Platform. His clinical work is focused on lung cancer and neurooncology, whereas his laboratory work is on cell death mechanisms in haematology, immunooncology and personalised medicine. He is president of the Luxembourg National Institute of Cancer, the Luxembourg Society of Oncology and MSF Luxembourg.

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Dr Bassam Janji

Deputy Head of Unit and CANBIO supervisor and co-supervisor

Dr Janji obtained his PhD in Oncology from the University of Paris-6 and carried out postdoctoral research at "Institut Curie" in Paris, France. He joined LIH in 2004 and got an HDR (Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches) from the University of Paris-11 in 2011. He was appointed Deputy Head of Unit of the Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Research in 2015. Dr Janji's research group “Tumour Microenvironment” investigates the role of hypoxic tumour microenvironment in the regulation of the anti-tumour immune responses. Dr Janji has established a large network of collaborations notably with Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus, Villejuif, France.

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Dr Etienne Moussay

Principal investigator and CANBIO co-supervisor

Dr Moussay leads the research group “Tumour-Stroma Interactions”. He obtained his PhD from the Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, in the fields of cellular biology, microbiology, and immunology, his doctoral thesis focusing on mucosal immunity. He then moved to LIH to work on leukaemia. Dr Moussay is currently focusing his research on the communication between cancer cells and their microenvironment, in particular on exosomes, using both in vitro and in vivo models. He established collaborations with leading European research centres in Villejuif, Heidelberg, Cambridge and Nice.

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Dr Clement Thomas

Principal investigator and CANBIO junior supervisor

Dr Thomas is the head of the research group “Cytoskeleton and Cancer Progression”. He obtained his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology, and his HDR (Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches) from the University of Strasbourg, France, in 2003 and 2010, respectively. His team focuses on actin regulatory proteins and related signalling pathways driving cancer cell invasion and immune evasion, with the goal to identify new prognostic markers and therapeutic targets to block metastasis, the primary cause of death from cancer.

Genomics and Proteomics Research Unit, LIH

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Dr Francisco Azuaje

Principal investigator and CANBIO supervisor

Dr Azuaje leads the research group “Systems Biomedicine” focussing on systems biomedicine and translational bioinformatics. He has more than 20 years of post-graduate research experience at the intersection of computational and biomedical sciences. His research team focuses on the development of novel computational models for patient stratification and drug response prediction using multi-omics data. This involves the combination of in silicoin vitro and in vivo research approaches. Dr Azuaje has established research collaborations with top international partners, including teams in Singapore, Switzerland and the USA.

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Dr Gunnar Dittmar

Head of Unit and CANBIO supervisor

Dr Dittmar is the Head of the Proteome and Genome Research Unit in the Department of Oncology. He has a strong background in chemistry and biochemistry. He did his PhD at the DKFZ, the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, working on a cell biology project. He worked for six years first as a postdoctoral fellow and later as an instructor of cell biology at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA. He was recruited as an independent group leader at the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin in 2003. Before joining LIH in 2016, he was the Head of the proteomics platform at MDC and of the Proteomics Core Facility of the Berlin Institute of Health.

Life Sciences Research Unit, University of Luxembourg

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Prof Iris Behrmann

Head of Unit and CANBIO supervisor and co-supervisor

Prof Behrmann is Professor in Biochemistry, Head of the Life Sciences Research Unit and research group leader of the “Signal transduction” team. She studied biology in Bielefeld, Germany, and carried out her PhD at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany on cDNA cloning of the death receptor Fas. In 1994 she became group leader at the Institute of Biochemistry, RWTH Aachen Medical School, Germany, where she obtained the “venia legendi” in 2001. Her longstanding research interests are cancer and inflammation, with a focus on cytokine signal transduction via the Jak/STAT pathway. She joined the University of Luxembourg in 2003 and is (co)author of more than 65 original publications.

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Prof Serge Haan

Head of Doctoral School, principal investigator and CANBIO supervisor

Prof Haan is Professor in Biological Chemistry at the University of Luxembourg since 2011 and is the director of the Doctoral School in Systems and Molecular Biomedicine. He holds a PhD and a habilitation in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His current research activities mainly focus on the investigation of molecular mechanisms that play a role in gastrointestinal cancers, primarily colorectal carcinoma. His team “Molecular Disease Mechanisms” uses in vitro, in vivo and bioinformatics techniques as well as primary tumour material to dissect the mechanisms underlying tumour initiation, tumour progression, treatment resistance and tumour/microenvironment interactions.

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Dr Stephanie Kreis

Principal investigator and CANBIO supervisor

Dr Kreis is a senior lecturer at the University of Luxembourg and an independent principal investigator. She holds a PhD in Virology and has strong expertise in molecular and cell biology and basic bioinformatics. The current research focuses of her team “miRNA” are the functional role of microRNAs, the potential of microRNAs as biomarkers in different cancer types such as melanoma or hepatoma, gene regulation, the non-coding genome, drug resistance and drug screening for new kinase inhibitors and other cancer drugs, as well as next generation sequencing and genomics.

Click for publications & profile

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Dr Elisabeth Letellier 

Junior principal investigator and CANBIO co-supervisor

Dr Letellier is a Junior PI within the Molecular Disease Mechanisms group at the University of Luxembourg. She has a background in cellular and molecular biology and obtained her PhD from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. Since joining the University in 2009, she works on colorectal cancer and its tumor environment. She is particularily interested in deciphering the role of microenvironmental stimuli, such as hypoxia, but also cyokines emerging from stromal-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), on tumor cells. Ultimately, her current projects aim at understanding how tumor initiation occurs and how tumor cells can disseminate and form clinical relevant macrometastases at a secondary organ.

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Prof Thomas Sauter

Principal investigator and CANBIO supervisor

Prof Sauter is Professor of Systems Biology. He was Head of the Doctoral School in Systems and Molecular Biomedicine and is Study Director of the Master programme in Integrated Systems Biology. His research team is focussed on molecular systems biology, particularly on model-based data integration and analysis of disease-specific networks. His expertise thereby covers detailed modelling of cancer signalling networks, reconstruction of context-specific metabolic networks, clinical data analysis and genome-wide epigenetic analysis.


Laboratoire National de Santé

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Prof Michel Mittelbronn

FNR PEARL Chair and CANBIO supervisor

Prof Mittelbronn is a renowned neuropathologist. In January 2017, he joined the Laboratoire national de santé (LNS) in a joint appointment with LIH and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg. Prof Mittelbronn aims to set up a diagnostic neuropathology unit at the LNS and build a research team together with LIH and the LCSB to strengthen their research activities in neuro-oncology and neurodegenerative diseases, respectively. Until December 2016, Prof Mittelbronn headed the diagnostic neuropathology at the Neurological Institute of the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main.

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Prof Fernando Schmitt

Director of Department and CANBIO co-supervisor

Prof Schmitt is Professor of Pathology at the University of Porto, Portugal. He is senior researcher at the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology (IPATIMUP) of the University of Porto. He has authored more than 410 papers in peer-review journal, 2 books and 23 book chapters and is widely considered a world-leading expert in cytopathology and breast cancer. His main research work is on breast cancer, with emphasis on molecular markers, cell adhesion and invasion, as well as on therapeutic targets and mechanisms of resistance.

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Dr Daniel Stieber

Head of Unit and CANBIO co-supervisor

Dr Stieber is heading the Molecular Genetics Unit at LNS. After receiving his PhD, he did postdoctoral research in breast cancer susceptibility genetics and the intra-tumoural heterogeneity of brain tumours. The team is focused on molecular genetic diagnostics in red blood cell disorders (mainly haemoglobinopathies) and on the development and implementation of state-of-the-art methods for molecular pathology of solid tumours. In that regard, a novel interest of the laboratory is the use of circulating tumour DNA to detect and monitor acquired somatic alterations in cancer patients.