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René Bernards group


René Bernards

Group leader

Personal details


René Bernards received his Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Leiden. He joined the laboratory of Robert Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, USA for his postdoctoral training, were he worked with Stephen Friend on the isolation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene. He was appointed assistant professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in 1988. In 1992 he joined the Netherlands Cancer Institute. In 1994 he was appointed part time professor of molecular carcinogenesis at Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

His scientific accomplishments include the development of MammaPrint, the first clinically-used gene expression profile for breast cancer. To bring this discovery to the clinic he co-founded "Agendia", a genomics-based diagnostic company that started offering the first microarray-based diagnostic test for the clinical management of breast cancer in 2004. His laboratory also developed the first shRNA vector for gene silencing in mammalian cells and used this vector to create a genome-scale library of shRNA vectors. His laboratory has used this vector collection to identify biomarkers of response to cancer drugs and to identify particularly powerful drug combinations for the treatment of cancer. Some of the combination therapies suggested by these genetic screens are currently showing promise in the clinic.

He received several awards for his research, including the Pezcoller Foundation-FECS Recognition for Contribution to Oncology, the Ernst W. Bertner Award for Cancer Research from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award in Translational Research in Breast Cancer, the Spinoza award from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and the Queen Wilhelmina Research Prize from the Dutch Cancer Society. He is also a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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