Since I did my Master’s internship at the Danish Cancer Society, my research has been focused on what T cells see on tumors, and how to best support the tumor-specific T cell response to achieve disease control. After completing my thesis work at University of Copenhagen in 2010, I joined the lab of Ton Schumacher at the NKI to explore the T cell recognized antigens using the pMHC platform developed in the lab. This work resulted in two main observations: 1. Anti-CTLA-4 therapy results in a broadening of the tumor-reactive T cell response, and 2. CD8 T cells frequently respond to neoantigens in melanoma, and these antigens - and the T cells specific for them - are therefore attractive therapeutic targets. In 2015 I received the Alpe diHuZes Bas Mulder Award received and in 2016 I initiated my independent research as a junior group leader at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
Our group is focused on understanding how the tumor-reactive T cell response, often rendered dysfunctional in cancer, can be improved with adequate support in terms of e.g. immunotherapies. We are in particular interested in the effect of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) alone or combined with conventional therapies such as chemotherapy. We are investigating: 1. The mechanisms of action of these therapies; 2. If all tumor-reactive T cells respond in a similar fashion to therapy; and 3. Whether immunocompetence – or lack thereof – influence responsiveness to ICB and the level of immune related adverse events.
In an exploratory project we are investigating whether the composition of ribosomal proteins within ribosomes influences T cell recognition of tumors.