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Research group/lab

Urothelial cancer

Our objective is to improve the diagnosis and outcome of urothelial cancer by unravelling its molecular biology and develop and implement risk stratification, personalized medicine and new therapies.

About our research group/lab

Our research

Research focus

Urothelial cancer research is an emerging research priority within the department of Urology. Our group performs: i) fundamental research to understand the molecular mechanisms that drive this tumor type; ii) translational research to enable implementation of these research findings into the clinic; and iii) clinical research by conducting trials on novel diagnostic assays and new therapies. Research activities focus on:

  • the identification and validation of novel urinary and tumor biomarkers to improve the diagnosis and prognosis of urothelial cancer
  • functional genomics studies in chemo-resistant muscle-invasive bladder cancer
  • prediction models for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin instillation in high risk non-invasive bladder cancer
  • digital pathology tools
  • preclinical research models

Our research drives on clinical studies, patient-derived biospecimens, next generation sequencing data, genomics and bioinformatics.

Urothelial cancer picture.

More information?

In this video, dr. J.L. Boormans gives a brief overview of the disease and our ongoing research into this difficult to treat tumor type.

Through translational research, we focus on:
  1. Early detection of urinary tract cancer.
  2. Risk stratification of tumors of the urinary tract.
  3. Patient selection for new and existing anti-cancer treatments.
  4. Development of new targeted therapies.

You can read more about our research on our external research website.
You can watch more "EU Post" videos on our Urology YouTube channel.

Our projects

  • CLARIFY - European research training network for PhD students on cloud artificial intelligence for pathology (beneficiary T. Zuiverloon)
  • Pre-Prevencys Study - Multi-center study to evaluate neoadjuvant chemotherapy prior to radical cystectomy in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer (co-PI J. Boormans)
  • MOLCARUTUC - European research network on comprehensive genomic characterization of upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma and paired bladder recurrences (coordinator J. Boormans)
  • REBACARE study - Multi-center study to reduce bladdder cancer recurrences after nephro-ureterectomy (PI J. Boormans)
  • CirGuidance study - Multi-center study to assess whether circulating tumor cells and gene expression profiling can guide neoadjuvant chemotherapy in muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients (PI J. Boormans

Key Publications

A complete overview of publications can be found here:


Long non-coding RNAs identify a subset of luminal muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients with favorable prognosis.
De Jong JJ, Liu Y, Robertson AG, Seiler R, Groeneveld CS, van der Heijden MS, Wright JL, Douglas J, Dall'Era M, Crabb SJ, van Rhijn BWG, van Kessel KEM, Davicioni E, Castro MAA, Lotan Y, Zwarthoff EC, Black PC, Boormans JL, Gibb EA,van den Tempel N, Naipal KAT, Raams A, van Gent DC, Franckena M, Boormans JL, Kanaar R. Ex vivo assays to predict enhanced chemosensitization by hyperthermia in urothelial cancer of the bladder. (2018). PloS One 2018;13:e0209101.

Systematic Review: Characteristics and Preclinical Uses of Bladder Cancer Cell Lines.
Zuiverloon TCM, de Jong FC, Costello JC, Theodorescu D. (2018). Bladder Cancer 2018;4:169-83.

Recommendations for follow-up of muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients: A consensus by the international bladder cancer network.
Zuiverloon TCM, van Kessel KEM, Bivalacqua TJ, Boormans JL, Ecke TH, Grivas PD, Kiltie AE, Liedberg F, Necchi A, van Rhijn BW, Roghmann F, Sanchez-Carbayo M, Schmitz-Dräger BJ, Wezel F, Kamat AM. (2018). Urol Oncol 2018;36:423-431.

A reported 20-gene expression signature to predict lymph node-positive disease at radical cystectomy for muscle-invasive bladder cancer is clinically not applicable. van Kessel KEM, van de Werken HJG, Lurkin I, Ziel - van der Made ACJ, Zwarthoff EC, Boormans JL (2017) PlosOne 2017;12(3):e0174039.

Systematic Review of Immune Checkpoint Inhibition in Urological Cancers. Rijnders M, de Wit R, Boormans JL, Lolkema M, van der Veldt AAM. (2017). Eur Urol 2017;72:411-23.


Collaboration within Erasmus MC

  • Department of Medical Oncology
  • Department of Experimental Pathology
  • Department of Clinical Pathology
  • Department of Radiation Oncology
  • Department of Molecular Genetics
  • Department of Quality of Care
  • Department of Biochemistry
  • Erasmus MC Cancer Computational Biology Center (CCBC)

Collaboration outside of Erasmus MC

  • NKI-AVL: Department of Urology and Medical Oncology NKI-A (Dr. van Rhijn, Dr. van der Heijden)
  • Amsterdam UMC: Department of Urology (Dr. A. Vis)
  • Radboudumc: Department of Urology (Dr. A. van der Heijden)
  • Radboudumc: Department of Epidemiology (Prof. Dr. L. Kiemeney)
  • UMC Utrecht: Department of Urology (Dr. R. Meijer)
  • Dutch Cancer Registry (Dr. K. Aben)
  • Hartwig Medical Foundation, Amsterdam (Dr. E. Cuppen)
  • Decipher Biosciences, CA, USA
  • MDxHealth, Gent, Belgium
  • Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, LA, USA (Prof. D. Theodorescu)
  • University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, USA (Dr. J. Costello)
  • University of British Columbia, Canada (Prof. P. Black)

Funding & Grants

  • Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions European Training Network CLARIFY - CLoud ARtificial Intelligence For pathology (beneficiary T. Zuiverloon)
  • Dutch Cancer Society consortium grant Pre-Prevencys Study - Evaluation of neoadjuvant chemotherapy prior to radical cystectomy in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer (co-PI J. Boormans)
  • ERA-NET TRANSCAN-2 consortium grant MOLCARUTUC - Comprehensive genomic characterization of upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma and paired bladder recurrences (coordinator J. Boormans)
  • Dutch Cancer Society REBACARE - REduce BlAdder CAncer REcurrences after Nephro-Ureterectomy (PI J. Boormans)
  • Erasmus MC Fellowship personal research grant (T. Zuiverloon)
  • Erasmus MC MRace grant CirGuidance study– Multi-center study to assess whether Circulating Tumor Cells can guide neoadjuvant chemotherapy in muscle-invasive bladder cancer (PI J. Boormans)
  • Stichting DUOS personal research grant (J. Boormans) 

Our team

Principal Investigators

  • Dr. Joost Boormans (urologist)
  • Dr. Tahlita Zuiverloon (urologist)

Research team members

  • Dr. Arno van Leenders (pathologist)
  • Dr. Harmen van de Werken (bioinfomatician)
  • Danielle van Diepen MSc (urologist)
  • Alberto Nakuama (bioinformatician)
  • Joep de Jong (PhD student)
  • Chris de Jong (PhD student)
  • Thomas van Doeveren (PhD student)
  • Maud Rijnders (PhD student)