• Medicina Regenerativa

[SCItalk] “Tell me mirror what is wrong”: Pancreatic cancer and exocrine cell differentiation

Ilse Rooman
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium


Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. Moreover, progress in early diagnosis and development of new therapeutic modalities have been limited. This can partly be attributed to our limited understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of this disease.

In this seminar, we will discuss lessons on tumor development that can be drawn from processes of normal cell differentiation (or loss thereof) and their critical regulators. In particular, experimental models of pancreatic exocrine cell (de)differentiation and remodeling of the microenvironment teach us important biological mechanisms that are mirrored in tumor development.




Dr. Ilse Rooman has a main interest and expertise in pancreatic cell biology and pancreatic cancer, in particular tumor development, cell plasticity and regeneration.

Ilse Rooman was educated at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), where she obtained her PhD in 2002, studying cellular plasticity in the pancreas in an attempt to regenerate insulin-producing cells. Moving away from diabetes research, she completed two postdoctoral research projects with a focus on pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, one of which at the Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica in Barcelona in the laboratory of Dr. Paco Real. In 2011, she was appointed as a group leader at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia where at the time Dr. Andrew Biankin started heading the International Cancer Genome Sequencing initiative for pancreatic cancer. Where hundreds of tumor specimens were sequenced, Dr. Rooman brought biology to the table helping to understand some of the genetic aberrations. In 2016, she moved back to Belgium and was granted a fellowship from the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) to build a basic research team at the VUB with focus on pancreatic cancer. The research has a strong translational focus and aims for development of therapeutic and prevention strategies.




Host: Meritxell Rovira