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Molecular Carcinogenesis: Roderick Beijersbergen


Roderick Beijersbergen Ph.D.Group leader, Head of High Content Screening Facility

About Roderick Beijersbergen

Signaling Networks in Cancer

This research group is using functional genomic technologies for the identification of novel targets for the development of anticancer drugs. We are developing our screening systems along three lines:

  1. the identification of novel players in important cellular pathways deregulated in cancer,
  2. the elucidation of the mechanism of drug action and resistance and 
  3. the identification of (synthetic or synergistic) lethal interactions to identify genotype specific drug targets.

Over the last years my group has invested in the generation of tools to perform functional genetic screens with special emphasis on loss-of-function cell based screens. To facilitate loss of function genetic screens we have developed large collections of shRNA knockdown vectors, targeting large numbers of both human and mouse genes. The development of these technologies has opened up the possibility to perform large scale mammalian somatic genetics.

Apart from the construction of large collections of shRNA vectors, my lab has a strong focus on the development of novel technologies using RNAi for gene identification. One of these technologies, shRNA bar code screening, although still under development, has already demonstrated its power in numerous biological screening systems. We have further extended our technology platform with siRNA and esiRNA technologies and will apply these technologies to identify novel components of important cellular networks that are affected or deregulated in human cancer. The goal of these projects is to identify novel drug targets beyond the classical oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes with particular emphasis on those targets that can be used in a tumor specific window. Examples of the use of these technologies are the identification of five novel genes that act in the p53 pathway and upon activation result in a bypass of a p53 mediated cell cycle arrest and the finding that intrinsic DNA damage signalling, characteristic for tumor cells, mediates the outcome of a novel type of drugs based on their capacity to re-activate the p53 pathway.

At this moment a considerable part of our efforts is aimed at the development and implementation of biological screens based on (multiple) complex phenotypes. An integral part of this effort is the realization of an automated high content screening platform with state-of-the-art image analysis software, database development and statistical analysis, integrated with bioinformatics. We believe that the combination of loss-of-function technologies with the ability to explore more complex phenotypes on a single cell level will significantly enhance the identification of novel targets and further insights in the molecular mechanisms leading to cancer.


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Kathy Jastrzebski

Postdoctoral Fellow


I received my PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2008 and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

In 2011, I joined the group of Roderick Beijersbergen and my current work involves utilizing high throughput approaches in order to identify predictors of response to therapeutics in breast cancer.




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Cor Lieftink



My professional background is 20+ years in building computer systems, especially databases. I have extensive experience with the programming tools Java and R.

At the NKI Robotics and Screening Center my main task is to support the storage and analysis of experimental data.  Data generated by the different high throughput screening platforms including siRNA, pooled shRNA and compound screens. For each platform  a pipeline has been created for processing and analysis that run on our server system.

I also participate in the Cancer Systems Biology Center, which aims to develop predictive models for therapy response.

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Ben Morris



As a member of the Screening and Robotics facility, I am actively involved in setting up diverse cancer related compound and RNAi based screens utilizing our in house libraries.  The role involves communicating and advising researchers on the optimization and set up of their screens, preparing library plates for screening and training researchers on our HTS equipment. 

My work also includes the programming, maintenance and validation of our high throughput liquid handlers and readers. 



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Wouter Nijkamp

Lab Manager


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Key publications View All Publications

  • MED12 controls the response to multiple cancer drugs through regulation of TGF-β receptor signaling.

    Cell. 2012; 151: 937-50

    Huang S, Hölzel M, Knijnenburg T, Schlicker A, Roepman P, McDermott U, Garnett M, Grernrum W, Sun C, Prahallad A, Groenendijk FH, Mittempergher et al.

    link to PubMed
  • Unresponsiveness of colon cancer to BRAF(V600E) inhibition through feedback activation of EGFR

    Nature. 2012; 483: 100-3

    Prahallad A, Sun C, Huang S, Di Nicolantonio F, Salazar R, Zecchin D, Beijersbergen RL, Bardelli A, Bernards R.

    link to PubMed

Recent publications View All Publications

  • phospho-ERK is a biomarker of response to a synthetic lethal drug combination of sorafenib and MEK inhibition in liver cancer

    J Hepatol. 2018 Jul 17.

    Wang C, Jin H, Gao D, Lieftink C, Evers B, Jin G, Xue Z, Wang L, Beijersbergen RL, Qin W, Bernards R.

    link to PubMed
  • Neutrophils Kill Antibody-Opsonized Cancer Cells by Trogoptosis

    Cell Rep. 2018 Jun 26;23(13):3946-3959.e6

    Matlung HL, Babes L, Zhao XW, van Houdt M, Treffers LW, van Rees DJ, Franke K, Schornagel K, Verkuijlen P, Janssen H, Halonen P, Lieftink...

    link to PubMed


  • Office manager

    Patty Lagerweij

  • E-mail

  • Telephone Number

    +31 20 512 6973

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'Research for the benefit of cancer patients'

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