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Ellen Schenk

Principal investigator

Ellen Schenk, PhD

Scientific project manager
Erasmus MC
Department of Urology, JNI room Be362
PO Box 2040
3000 CA Rotterdam
The Netherlands

Phone: +31-10-7043674
Fax: +31-10-7044661

Ellen Schenk graduated cum laude in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands in 1994. She received her PhD in 1999 at the University of Leiden on her thesis �Relations between coagulation and fibrinolysis. A study on plasminogen activators�. In 1999, she joined the Protein Chemistry Department of Pharming Technologies B.V. in Leiden as a Research Associate. As ad interim project coordinator, she then managed the quality control assay development and characterization of one of the lead products of Pharming. In 2001, she became responsible as the Bio- and Immunochemistry Group Leader for the bio- and immunochemical assay development and characterization for products developed by Pharming. From 2002, Ellen is working as a scientific project manager at the Erasmus MC Department of Urology. She is supporting the research activities of the department head, and is responsible for the management of various European (PRO-NEST, GIANT, PROCABIO, P-Mark), national and local research networks, covering the coordination of grant applications, contract negotiations, project monitoring and reporting, financial and legal issues, and public relations.

Research interest

Prostate cancer is the most frequent male malignancy and the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the Western world. There are two major clinical needs for prostate cancer, namely:
1. the improvement of the current diagnostic and prognostic tools
2. the improvement of the treatment selection for this disease

Improvement of diagnostic and prognostic tools for prostate cancer
The high incidence of prostate cancer is primarily due to the widespread use of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)-based screening tool. A major disadvantage of PSA-screening is that it is associated with overdetection and overtreatment in a considerable proportion of the general population (30-50% of those diagnosed). Due to the low degree of specificity and a limited prognostic value of PSA, asymptomatic non-agressive tumours that have a very low risk of progression are being detected as well and subsequently treated. Thus, there is an urgent need for biomarkers that can add to the diagnostic and prognostic value of PSA, and that can stratify between patients who need active curative therapy and patients who are better off with active surveillance.

Improvement of treatment selection for prostate cancer
Although the majority of prostate tumours are diagnosed as organ-confined disease, which is curable by surgery or radiation therapy, 20-25% of patients will experience a relapse within 5 years of treatment. Once the disease has spread beyond the prostate, no curative treatments are currently available. Since most prostatic tumors depend on androgens for their growth, androgen ablation and/or antiandrogen therapy is the gold standard treatment for advanced disease. Most patients show a favorable response. However, virtually all patients relapse with hormone refractory cancer within 1-3 years and there are no truly effective therapies available yet for these therapy-resistant cancers. It is clear that a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie initiation and progression of prostate cancer is required in order to improve the treatment options for the various stages of this malignancy and to impact mortality and morbidity from this disease.

European research projects
In Europe, various large research consortia are intensely focusing on the molecular mechanisms responsible for prostate cancer as well as on the development of new and improved diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for this disease. The Erasmus MC Department of Urology plays a major role as a coordinator or partner in European consortia directed towards the following research topics:
� Biomarkers for prostate cancer (P-Mark, PROCABIO)
� Molecular aspects of prostate cancer (PRIMA, ProspeR)
� Gene therapy for prostate cancer (GIANT)
� Screening and active surveillance of prostate cancer (ERSPC, PRIAS)
� Training of young researchers in prostate cancer research (PRO-NEST, CANCURE)



For a list of publications, click here