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Two young female Leiden researchers join Oncode

The Oncode Institute is a new international network organisation that focuses on making sure that new scientific findings on cancer are implemented in patients as rapidly as possible. Two young female researchers at Leiden University have been selected to join Oncode: Laura Heiman (Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research) and Sylvie Noordermeer (Medicine).

The Oncode Institute is an independent institute that aims to translate fundamental insights on cancer as efficiently as possible into better and more affordable care for patients; the aim is to end cancer as a fatal illness. The institute - a network organisation that has no physical premises - brings together around 560 leading Dutch researchers in the field of cancer, from nine different institutes. The institute is founded on three main pillars: excellent research, intensive collaboration and powerful valorisation.

Oncode has a budget of 120 million euros until 2022. This investment comes from the Dutch Cancer Society and three Ministries: Economic Affairs and Climate; Education, Culture and Science; and Health, Welfare and Sport. Health Holland, NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development and the nine partner institutions including Leiden University are also contributors. 

The two new Leiden members of Oncode are:

Dr Laura Heitman – Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR), Leiden University

G protein-coupled receptors in cancer
Laura Heitman contributes her expertise in molecular pharmacology and medicinal chemistry. Although it is clear that G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play a raole in cancer, little is known about the mechanisms in which they are involved. Dr Laura Heitman wants to identify and understand the role of GPCRs in modulating the tumour micro-environment and in intrinsic tumour signalling. This may in time lead to the identification of medicine targets. Laura Heitman brings her expertise in molecular   pharmacology and medicinal chemistry.

Dr Sylvie Noordermeer – Department of Human Genetics, LUMC

From fundamental BRCA1 research to the clinic
BRCA1 is known to maintain genome stability, and BRCA1 mutations are directly linked to family-related breast and ovarian cancer and to sporadic cancers of different origins. In spite of decades of work, the mechanistic role of BRCA1 in maintaining genome stability is poorly understood. Dr Sylvie Noordermeer is working on gaining a better understanding of the BRCA1 function to improve the treatment of tumours that develop under the influence of BRCA1. The selection committee appreciated Dr Noordermeer's clear research focus, in which she combines fundamental research with a translational twist.

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