Our laboratory is situated at the health sciences campus of Gasthuisberg in research building O&N1



Background Career Information

Dr. P. Agostinis (PA) received her master in Biology at the University of Padova (Italy) and her PhD in biomedical science at the KU Leuven, Belgium, where she became first Research Associate of the Flemish Research Council (FWO) and then Professor at the KU Leuven. Since 2000 PA is the group leader of the Cell Death Research & Therapy lab, at the Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine of the KU Leuven, and in 2008 she became Full Professor at the same Institution. PA has been elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the European Cell Death Society (ECDO) and of the International Cell Death Society (ICDS, New York), the two major societies in the field of cell death. PA is also an honorary member of the European Academy of Tumor Immunology (EATI). PA’s team is one of the leading group investigating the molecular mechanisms of endoplasmic reticulum stress based and therapy-induced immunogenic cancer cell death. PA’s team revealed the unprecedented biological function of key ER stress sensors in inter-organellar contact sites, contributed to the molecular understanding of trafficking/emission of damage associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and other immunomodulators towards the extracellular environment and their in vivo role in antitumor immunity. Recently, PA’s team documented that immunogenic cell death mediated by ER stress can be harnessed to develop novel and clinically relevant, next-generation dendritic cell-based immunotherapies for brain tumors (glioblastoma). PA’s group is also exploring the role of autophagy/vesicular trafficking in tumor-stroma interaction and anti-tumor immunity.

Prof. Patrizia Agostinis

Current Position: Principal Investigator

Affiliation: Cell Death Research & therapy (CDRT) lab, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven
Campus Gasthuisberg ON1, Herestraat 49, Bus 901, B3000, Leuven, Belgium.
Tel: +32.16.330650

Post-doctoral fellows:

Dr. Abhishek D. Garg

Originally from Nagpur (India), Abhishek obtained his B.Sc. in Biotechnology from Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University (India), a Diploma in Bioinformatics (D/L) from Bioinformatics Institute of India and a M.Sc. in Biosciences (Human Genetics) from University of Leeds (UK). He completed his Ph.D. in cancer biology from the CDRT lab at KU Leuven (Belgium) under the supervision of Prof. P. Agostinis. He is currently a senior postdoctoral scientist at the CDRT lab. His primary research interests include, cell death immunology (danger model, ER stress-autophagy crosstalk), cancer immunotherapy (immunogenic cell death, DC vaccines), cancer immunoresistance mechanisms (immune-checkpoints), and tumor biomarkers analysis.

Contact details:

Email: abhishek.garg@kuleuven.be, abhishekdgarg@gmail.com
Tel: +32 16 37 93 40

Dr. Marco Schaaf

Originally from Heerlen (Netherlands), Marco studied Molecular Life Sciences and afterwards the M.Sc. in Clinical Molecular Sciences. After graduating he started as a Ph.D. student at the department of Radiation Oncology (MaastRO-lab) at Maastricht University (Netherlands). He successfully defended his research about the role of the survival promoting pathway autophagy in cancer cells in abetting resistance to hypoxic tumor microenvironment and radioresistance. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow at the CDRT lab investigating the impact of autophagy mediated intercellular communication in the tumor on spontaneous and therapy-induced antitumor immunity and tumor progression (e.g. melanoma dissemination).

Contact details:

Email: marco.schaaf@kuleuven.be.

Dr. Odeta Meçe

Odeta Meçe completed her university education (B.Sc.) and post-graduated (M.Sc.) in Biology from the University of Tirana, Albania in 2010. In 2016, she was awarded a Ph.D. in molecular biomedicine by the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany for her thesis work on how deficiencies in the ubiquitin proteasome system driving endothelial cell senescence is a predisposing factor for cardiovascular disease, under the guidance of Prof. Regine Heller and Prof. Tilman Grune. 

As a postdoctoral researcher mentored by Prof. Patrizia Agostinis, she studies the role of autophagy in melanoma-induced lymphangiogenesis in the laboratory for Cell Death research and Therapy, KU Leuven, Belgium.

Contact details:

Email: odeta.mece@kuleuven.be

Dr. Alex van Vliet

Originally from Ajax (Canada), Alex holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Leuven (KULeuven, Belgium). He was awarded his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences under the supervision of prof. Patrizia Agostinis at the University of Leuven.

Alex’ work focuses mainly on the interface and dynamic contact sites between the endoplasmic reticulum and both the plasma membrane and mitochondria, and the role of the ER stress kinase PERK in these processes.

Contact details:

Email: Alex.vanvliet@kuleuven.be
Tel.: +3216379338

PhD Students:

Seyma Demirsoy

Originally from Ankara (Turkey), Seyma holds a BSc. degree in Biological Sciences from Middle East Technical University (METU, Ankara, Turkey) and a MSc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Bilkent University (Ankara, Turkey). Currently pursuing a PhD in the CDRT lab, Seyma tries to delineate the putative role of ATP13A2 (PARK9, Parkinson Related Gene) in the regulation of proteostasis.

Contact details:

Email: Seyma.Demirsoy@kuleuven.be
Tel.: +321637933

Sanket More

Sanket holds a Bsc. in Microbiology from the University of Mumbai (Maharashtra, India), a Msc. in Microbiology from University of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India [2014], and a Msc. in Cancer Research from the National University of Ireland (Galway (NUIG)).

Sanket is currently studying how ER stress modulates the phenotypic switch of melanoma from proliferative/therapy sensitive to an invasive/therapy resistant phenotype and its effect on immunosurveillance mechanisms during the progression of melanoma.

Contact details:

Email: more9.sanket@gmail.com

Erminia Romano

Originally from Naples (Italy), Erminia holds a BSc. degree in Biology and a MSc. degree in Molecular Biology, both from the University “Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II” (Italy). Currently pursuing a PhD in the CDRT lab, Erminia tries to decipher the role of the BH3-only protein BNIP3 in affecting macrophages immunosurveillance and polarization status in melanoma.

Contact details:

Email: erminia.romano@kuleuven.be
Tel.: +3216376411

Nicole Rufo

Originally from Venice (Italy), Nicole is now pursuing a PhD student in the CDRT lab. She obtained a BSc. degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Padova (Italy) and a MSc. degree in Cellular and Molecular Medical Biotechnology from the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele (Milan, Italy). Her current PhD project aims at further unravelling the molecular processes that specifically underlie the induction of an immunogenic form of cell death in melanoma.

Contact details:

Email: nicole.rufo@kuleuven.be
Tel.: +3216374662

Maria Livia Sassano

Originally from Ferrara (Italy), Maria Livia holds a MSc. degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technologies (CTF) from the University of Ferrara (October 2011- July 2016). Currently pursuing a PhD in the CDRT lab, Maria Livia is trying to identify and characterize a new uncanonical emerging role of PERK, beyond the UPR, in tethering ER- organelle, focusing on ER-mitochondria contact site (MAMs).

Contact details:

Email: marialivia.sassano@kuleuven.be

Mónica Vara-Pérez

Originally from Zamora (Spain), Monica holds a BSc. degree in Biotechnology from the University of Salamanca (Spain) and a MSc. degree in Molecular Medicine from the ErasmusMC (Rotterdam, NL). Currently pursuing a PhD in the CDRT lab, Monica tries to decipher the mechanistic role of the BH3-only protein BNIP3 in vesicular trafficking and tumor-stroma interaction affecting melanoma progression.

Contact details:

Email: monica.varaperez@kuleuven.be
Tel. +3216377089

Master Students:

Diede Houbert
Contact details:

Visiting Students:

Lab Technicians:

Kristine Rillaerts

Originally from Brussels (Belgium), Kristine holds a Professional BSc. degree in medical laboratory technologies from the Hogeschool Leuven. Currently working as a lab technician in the CDRT lab, Kristine tries to support the doctoral students in their research as well as managing the lab.

Contact details:

Email: kristine.rillaerts@kuleuven.be
Tel.: +3216379344

Sofie Van Eygen

Originally from Kinrooi (Belgium), Sofie holds a Professional BSc. Degree in chemistry from the Hogeschool of Leuven. Currently working as a lab technician in the CDRT lab, Sofie tries to support the doctoral students in their research as well as managing the lab.

Contact details:

Email: sofie.vaneygen@kuleuven.be
Tel.: +3216330233

Ester Vanmol

Originally from Beringen (Belgium), Ester holds a Professional BSc. Degree in medical laboratory technologies from the Hogeschool UC Leuven-Limburg. Currently working as a lab technician in the CDRT lab, Ester tries to support the doctoral students in their research as well as managing the lab.

Contact details:

Email: ester.vanmol@kuleuven.be

Past Members:

Elena Catanzaro
Hannelore Maes
Shaun Martin
Aleksandra Dudek-Peric
Michael Dewaele
Kris Nys
Veerle Daniels
Tom Verfaillie
Julien Verrax
Esther Buytaert
Ann Van Laethem
Nico Hendrickx
Sophie Clarehout
Zerihun Assefa
Noemi Rubio
Annelies Vantieghem

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Where to find us:

Useful links to reach Leuven:
Official tourist page: Link
Transfer by train: Leuven is about 30min away by train from Brussels airport. Trains to Leuven leave Brussels airport approx. every 15min.
To reach Campus Gasthuisberg see this link


To contact the lab, please send an email to: 
Patrizia Agostinis
Cell Death Research and Therapy Lab, Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Medicine
Campus Gasthuisberg, O&N I Herestraat 49 - bus 802
3000 Leuven, Belgium
Tel 003216330650,