Prof. Victor van Beusechem
Prof. van Beusechem received a MSc degree in Medical Biology from the VU University Amsterdam; and a PhD degree (cum laude) from the University of Leiden. Currently, he is professor of Applied Molecular Oncology and head of the Laboratory Medical Oncology at the VU University Medical Center; director of the RNA Interference Functional Oncogenomics Laboratory, a Cancer Center Amsterdam core facility for whole-genome siRNA library screening; theme leader Target Discovery & Preclinical Therapy Development at the Cancer Center Amsterdam; and Chief Scientific Officer of ORCA Therapeutics BV, a biopharmaceutical company focusing on the development of new anti-cancer treatments using oncolytic viruses. His main research areas include development of oncolytic immunotherapies using recombinant adenoviruses; and discovery of novel therapeutic targets for effective cancer therapy using functional genomics approaches.
Dr. Piter J. Bosma
The main focus of Dr. Bosma is development of liver directed gene therapy to treat inherited cholestatic liver disorders. After demonstrating efficacy in the relevant preclinical models, subsequent translational studies are performed to allow clinical application. One of the hurdles targeted is the (pre-)existing immunity towards the delivery vector that blocks effective treatment is present in a significant percentage of the patients. To make this treatment available for all patients suffering from one of these devastating diseases, several strategies, including immune suppression, are investigated. For registration of these methods, needed for market approval, efficacy of the novel treatment needs to be demonstrated in patients. Since all these disorders are very rare, the data of the natural course of these diseases are scattered. With the help of patient advocacy groups, world-wide patient registries for these diseases have been set up to gather all the knowledge on the natural course of these diseases.
Dr. Rob W.J. Collin
Dr. Collin is associate professor within the department of Genetics of the Radboud Academical Medical Center. His research group is working on the development of gene therapies for treatment of selected genetic subtypes of inherited retinal dystrophy. This disease causes blindness or severe visual impairment. The therapeutic strategies that are developed within Dr. Collin’s lab are aimed at correcting the genetic deficiencies causing the disease.
Prof. Hidde J. Haisma
Prof. Haisma earned his degree in Medical Biology at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, in 1983 and from 1982 till 1987 worked as scientist for the biotech company Centocor Inc. Malvern PA, USA (1985-1986), Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston MA, USA (1986-1987), and as instructor at Harvard Medical School , Boston MA , USA (1986-1987). In 1987 he obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, with the thesis “Monoclonal antibodies and cancer”. From 1987-1997, he worked as scientist for the Section Experimental Therapy of the Department of Medical Oncology, University Hospital of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and in 1997 he was appointed Assistant Professor/section leader of the Division of Gene Therapy within this department. In 2000, he left Amsterdam to become full professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Haisma’s research is devoted to the development of genetic medicines for therapeutic intervention of gene expression in patients. Prof. Haisma is member of the editorial board of several journals and has co-authored over 150 publications and holds several patents. He is former president and member of the board of the Dutch Society of Gene and Cell Therapy. In addition, he is member of the Gene and Cell Doping Expert Group of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Dr. Enrico Mastrobattista
Dr. Mastrobattista obtained his PhD in Advanced Drug Delivery from Utrecht University in 2001 and spent over two years as a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at the MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK). He currently leads a research group that develops biomimetic drug delivery systems for the targeted delivery of therapeutic proteins, peptides and nucleic acids. His main areas of expertise are drug delivery, pharmaceutical biotechnology and nanobiotechnology with a focus on the intracellular delivery of nucleic acids and genetic vaccines. Dr. Mastrobattista has published over 90 articles in scientific journals, contributed to several book chapters in pharmaceutical biotechnology and holds several patents to his name. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Galien research price, the Netherlands, for his research on drug delivery (www.galenusprijs.nl)
Dr. Jan Theys
Dr. Theys graduated as bio-engineer at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL). Following the completion of his PhD at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology (Rega Institute, Leuven), he joined Maastricht University and became one of the co-founders of Maastro lab. He has been working as postdoctoral fellow, is staff member at Maastro and was appointed A/Professor at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences of the University of Maastricht. His main research interest centers around the importance of the tumor microenvironment with the goal to implement knowledge into innovative approaches that allow better treatment. Within that context, he leads an international consortium to generate a safe, antibiotic hypersensitive medical-grade armed non-pathogenic Clostridium vector that upon injection as spores, will germinate and thrive in necrotic tumour regions, providing cancer-specific colonisation, a totally natural exquisitely specific phenomenon. Upon concise development of the required technology, we stably “armed” Clostridium with a chemotherapy-activating gene (nitroreductase, NTR). We term this approach Clostridial-directed Enzyme Prodrug Therapy (CDEPT). We have obtained the critical proof-of-principle that the CDEPT paradigm can work and with all the technology required now in place, we aim to establish the clinical value of CDEPT.
Dr. Jeroen de Vrij
After receiving his PhD in 2012 (“Viral capsid modifications to improve oncolytic Adenoviruses”, LUMC, Leiden), Dr. de Vrij continued his research in the Dept. of Neurosurgery, Erasmus MC, with a major focus on the development of oncolytic viruses (OVs) for glioblastoma brain tumors. He has a major focus on the particular subject of using extracellular vesicles/exosomes as theragnostic system: (1) to improve OV therapy by packaging OVs in vesicles, (2) to analyze tumor-secreted vesicles in body fluids as a method for non-invasive monitoring of OV efficacy. Dr. de Vrij’s research ranges from vector construction towards clinical trial-related investigations. Novel OV therapies and diagnostics are tested in patient-derived xenograft mouse models as well as on patient-derived tumor cultures. The cultures rang from classic 2D monolayers to highly complex 3D Avatar models, which strongly mimic the patient’s tumor microenvironment, including presence of immune cells, endothelial cells and extracellular matrix components.
Dr. Ingrid de Visser – Kamerling
Dr. Visser-Kamerling obtained her degree in Medical Biology at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands in 1998. From 1999 until 2004 she worked as a clinical scientist at the Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR), Leiden the Netherlands. In 2003 she obtained her PhD degree with the thesis: “Clinical target validation for a non-peptide motilin receptor antagonist” at the University of Leiden. In 2005 she became a registered clinical pharmacologist. From 2004 until 2007 she worked as policy coordinator at the research department of the Netherlands Heart Foundation. In 2007 CHDR appointed her as interim manager of education. From 2008 onward she holds a position of senior clinical scientist in different research fields, with main focus on gene therapy, viruses and vaccines.
Prof. Gerard Wagemaker
Prof. Wagemaker is emeritus professor of Hematology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, was trained in medicine, and in radiation, transplantation and stem cell biology. His research currently focuses on stem cell gene therapy for inherited rare disorders. He has a long record as coordinator of European collaborative projects, from 1988-2004 EURATOM’s radiation protection projects, including the health effects of the Chernobyl accident, from 2002-2010 the projects on stem cell gene therapy for inherited diseases and till 2016 participant in these projects. From 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 Visiting Professor at the Weizmann Institute, Israel, and currently at the stem cell transplant centers of Pavlov Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Children’s Hospital of Hacettepe Medical University, Ankara, which is the Turkish referral hospital for rare diseases. Prof. Wagemaker has been a member of the European Union Committee of Experts on Rare Diseases, received at the St. Petersburg University a doctorate honoris causa and from the Indian ISGCT its Genome Award.