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Ewa Snaar-Jagalska appointed as Professor in the field of cellular tumor biology

From the 1st of April Ewa Snaar-Jagalska has been appointed Professor in the field of cellular tumor biology within the Faculty of Science at the Institute of Biology Leiden. Snaar's research focuses on the cellular tumor biology and human cancer modeling in zebrafish with the ultimate aim of establishing zebrafish as a key model for rapid discovery and assessment of genetic cancer targets and drugs to develop strategies for cancer therapies. Many molecular and cellular components involved in tumorigenicity are highly conserved between zebrafish and human making this platform clinically relevant.

Studying human cancers

During her PHD and  initial carrier Ewa worked on the G-protein and RAS mediated signal transduction controlling directional sensing and migration of  the eukaryotic cells.

In 2003, she made a switch to a vertebrate model, the zebrafish to study human cancers using zebrafish embryonic and transgenic cancer models. She obtained a leading position in the field by coordination of  the FP7: ZF-CANCER project (2008-2012), an EU network for development of high-throughput bioassays for human cancers in zebrafish. She also participated in other EU  (ZF-TOOLS, ZF-MODELS, ZF-HEALTH) zebrafish research networks and co-organized several workshops on cancer in zebrafish.

Current Research

Snaar's research is mainly directed at the study of cancer heterogeneity and innate immunity responses to cancer cells during angiogenesis and metastasis for the discovery of cancer genetic targets and drugs for personalized cancer therapies. The success of this research is shown by obtaining several medical grants for cancer research in the zebrafish (KIKA and TOP-NWO).

Recently, her group became a part of national prostate cancer consortium funded by Dutch cancer society (KWF) to develop near-patient’s prostate cancer models for the assessment of disease prognosis and therapy response (2015-2019). Establishment of patient biopsy and organoid derived xenograft models in zebrafish (ZF-PDX), applicable to test the personalized drug response in a time-and cost-effective manner got awarded by participation in Horizon 2020 project (2016-2020). The overall goal of the UM Cure 2020 consortium is to combine the efforts of several European Centers of Excellence in clinical ocular oncology and basic research to develop new therapeutic approaches to treat metastatic uveal melanoma (UM).

Aside from her research, Snaar’s  serves on the editorial board of several journals and is a member of various national and international organizations. Importantly she is a member of the Animal Welfare Body, and is chair of a faculty working group to establish better cooperation with Eastern Europe. She has been invited to more than 30 national and international meetings and supervised 11 postdocs and 12 PhD students until defense of their thesis.

Future plans

Ewa Snaar-Jagalska
Snaar: 'In my future work I aim to further develop two strongly 
interconnected research lines. The first focusses on the novel fundamental
aspects of cancer biology controlling invasive cell migration, metastatic
initiation and interaction with host microenvironment to predict targets
and pathways for novel cancer cell- and host-directed therapies.
The second line focusses on near patientcancer modeling in zebrafish for translational, pre-clinical therapeutic strategy.'