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Principal Investigator

L.H.J. (Leendert) Looijenga

Professor by special appointment, Principal investigator

  • Department
  • Pathology



Principal Investigator, Professor of Translational Patho-Oncology

Leendert Looijenga studied biology at the University of Groningen and graduated cum laude with a specialization in medical cell biology in 1989. Until 1990, he worked as a visiting scientist at the Department of Anthropogenetics (Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands), after which he started the Laboratory for Experimental Patho-Oncology at the Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center (Rotterdam). In 1994, he defended his thesis, ""Pathobiology of germ cell tumors of the adult testis: views and news"", at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (Promotors: Prof. dr. J.W. Oosterhuis and B. de Jong), and became initiating scientist and staff member. In 1998, the laboratory moved to the Josephine Nefkens Institute (now Josephine Nefkens), Department of Pathology. In 2005 he became Professor of Translational Patho-Oncology at the Erasmus MC - University Medical Center Rotterdam. Looijenga is leading an active group of clinicians and scientists (also in training). He has been (co-)responsible for 13 PhD students that finalized their education, and currently for 7 more. In addition, he lectures in the context of the Medical Training of students at the Erasmus MC, as well as the Master program. He had been invited for more than 200 key note lectures, had over 40 funded research grants, and has more than 225 publications (39 first, 131 co- and 107 last authorships), as well as over 25 book chapters.

His research is focused on development and application of diagnostic, prognostic and predictive markers (focussing on Barret esophagus, head and neck- and gonadal development including germ cell cancers as well as (in)fertility). The latter topic relates to regulation of Disorders of Sex Development (DSD), pluripotency and cisplatin sensitivity and resistance, sex determination (gonadal development), germ cell maturation and transformation. Various approaches are applied, including integrated omics. During the last 25 years, a large series of human germ cell tumors, over 2000 individual cases, freshly frozen, including control tissue (peripheral blood, serum, etc.) as well as clinical follow up, has been collected. The archive has proven itself to be highly informative for both fundamental as well as translational research. 

His major contributions in the field of germ cell cancers are: - Determined the pattern of genomic imprinting and chromosomal constitution of the different subtypes of germ cell tumors; - Identified new informative diagnostic markers for carcinoma in situ (CIS), now referred to as Germ cell Neoplasia in Situ (GCNIS) and germ cell tumors (GCT) (such as OCT3/4, TSPY, stem cell factor (SCF, KITL), DNMT1, SOX2 and FOXL2), including for patients with DSD; - Characterized various in vitro and in vivo models for germ cell tumors; - Demonstration that a specific set of microRNAs being intrinsically expression in GCT and suitable for early diagnosis and follow up; - Demonstrated a correlation between microsatellite instability, BRAF (V600E) mutation, overall methylation and chemotherapy resistance.

Looijenga is active in various national and international organizations (including ESMO, EORTC, Dutch Society for Cell Biology and Oncology, as well as the Federa (FMWV)). He is member of the International Germ Cell Cancer Collaborative Group who set the international guidelines for managing testis cancer gratified by the World Health Organization in 2004 and 2014. He is a recipient of the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme VIDI from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. He has organized a number of scientific meetings, and regularly lectures for medical and biomedical students. His current executive and advisory roles are: member Scientific Advisory Board Daniel den Hoed Stichting (2013 ongoing ); Member Clinical Guidelines Turner Syndrome NL-B (2012 ongoing); Chairman Federa (on behalf of Dutch Society for Cell Biology and Oncology, 2012 ongoing as advisor); Member Biomarker Development Partner Applied Biosystems (Life Technologies), Laboratory official test site (2011 ongoing), Member Board Rene Vogels Foundation (2010 ongoing), Member of the Board of the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Oncologie (NVvO; Dutch Society for Oncology) (2008 ongoing), Member ESMO Guidelines Working Group (2008 ongoing), Advisor Patient Care Society ""Kernzaak"", now Stichting Zaadbalkanker (2002 ongoing), Head Expert Center Erasmus MC-DSD (Disorders of Sex Development); member Steering committee I-DSD (2013 ongoing), Member scientific committee DSDNederland, Chairman (with Prof. A. Houtsmuller) Scientific Integrity Committee Pathology, Erasmus MC (2013 ongoing), confidant person Scientific Integrity Division Diagnostic and Support (Pathology) (2013 ongoing), management team member Department of Pathology (2013 ongoing). In February 2014, he got his certificate Basis Kwaliteit Onderwijs (BKO) at the Erasmus MC


Teaching activities

In February 2014, he got his certificate Basis Kwaliteit Onderwijs (BKO) at the Erasmus MC.