“For my PhD thesis, I coordinated two clinical trials into ways to improve breast cancer treatment using immunotherapy. We already knew that a high dose of chemotherapy could negatively affect the immune system, and now we have discovered that a low dose of chemotherapy could strengthen the immune system in a select patient group by giving it some kind of boost. I’m really glad that our research group got to collaborate with fundamental researchers on this topic. Our group was even housed in a department with primarily fundamental researchers.
As a physician in the lab I felt like the odd one out sometimes. But we learned a lot from each other. Sometimes just chatting with someone over a coffee in the hallway brought us another step forward. As it turned out, mouse models showed that the amount of eosinophils – a type of immune cell – found in the blood and tumor would increase during immunotherapy treatment. We saw the same increase in the blood and tissue of patients who responded well. That provides new leads for new treatment options. I feel very fulfilled through working with patients. I want to keep doing that, preferably as an internist. I currently work as an assistant physician at the internal medicine department at the Spaarne Gasthuis."
Leonie will defend her thesis on April 14.
prof. dr. Sabine C. Linn
dr. Marleen Kok
dr. Hugo M. Horlings
This research was financially made possible by KWF Dutch Cancer Society, NWO, Pink Ribbon, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) and the Hendrika Roet foundation.