Bijlsma Group

Our team generates organoids from pancreatic and esophageal cancer to study tumor biology and test efficacy of novel treatments.

Team leader

Maarten Bijlsma

Associate Professor

My group works on cancers driven by deregulated developmental signaling. Ongoing projects focus on the tumor cell biology that drives the aggressive growth of pancreatic, esophagogastric, and colon cancer with the ultimate aim to improve their treatment. Specifically, topics studied are:

1) How the non-epithelial fraction, or stroma, contributes to aggressive tumor cell behavior, and whether the tumor-stroma crosstalk can be targeted and monitored non-invasively.

2) It is known that mesenchymal cell and tissue states in cancer contribute to poor outcome, and my group has identified and functionally addressed the vulnerabilities of these mesenchymal subtypes in gastrointestinal cancer tissue, as well as in patient-derived experimental models for these malignancies.

3) Furthermore, my team is delineating the mechanisms that drive transient mesenchymal cell states in gastrointestinal cancers, most notably in esophageal cancer. These topics are highly interconnected with each other, but also with my previous graduate and postdoctoral work. I am currently expanding this work to study how metabolic reprogramming and plasticity pertain to the topics currently covered in my group.  

Team members

Mark Dings
PhD candidate

Paul Manoukian
PhD student

Benthe Doeve
PhD student

Andrea Vallés
PhD student


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  • TKI-PPP EPITOME (14225 lead PI)
  • KWF Dutch Cancer Society project grant (13435 lead PI)
  • Alliantie CCA – Liquid Biopsy platform support (co-PI)
  • Oncode Clinical Proof of Concept (BASALT; applicant)
  • KWF Dutch Cancer Society project grant (12985 co-PI)
  • H2020-MSCA-ITN (PRECODE; beneficiary)
  • ZonMW GGG (80-84800-98-91029 co-PI)
  • European COST consortium TRANSPAN (MC member and co-applicant)
  • Horizon-INFRA-2021 canSERV (WP access manager and co-applicant)