Anton Berns

Former group leader and scientific director

Anton Berns studied biochemistry at the University of Nijmegen and received his Masters degree in 1969 (cum laude) and his PhD in 1972 (supervisor Prof. H. Bloemendal) from that same University (cum laude). He did his postdoctoral training in the group of Rudolf Jaenisch at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA., where he studied the role of retroviruses in causing lymphomas in mice. In 1976 he returned to the University of Nijmegen where he became junior staff member. His group explored proviral insertional mutagenesis as a means to identify new oncogenes. In 1985 he was appointed as staff scientist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and in 1986 he became head of the Division of Molecular Genetics of the Institute. Here his group did pioneering work to generate and utilize genetically modified mice as a tool to search for new cancer genes.

His group focused on the development and use of advanced mouse models for cancer. Other themes of his research were: i. Development of tools to faster generate complex mouse models, ii. High throughput transposon insertional mutagenesis to identify components in signaling pathways relevant for cancer, and iii. The role of tumor heterogeneity and cells-of-origin of lung cancer and mesothelioma. In 1999, he was appointed as Director of Research and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Cancer Institute/Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital from which he retired at the end of 2011. The experimental work in his lab ended in May 2019. Some of the projects are being continued by postdocs and former colleagues. He remains active as advisor, reviewer, and as board member of supervisory committees and national and international organisations dedicated to cancer research.

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