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E.S. (Elena) Martens-Uzunova, PhD

Assistant Professor

  • Department
  • Urology
  • Focus area
  • Prostate cancer, biomarkers, small RNA , microRNA, transcriptomics , epitranscriptomics, biochemistry, molecular biology



As a molecular biologist my scientific credo says that the prerequisite to better detection and treatment of cancer is thorough understanding of the processes that occur in healthy cells. My research is focused on noncoding RNA and RNA modifications as modulators of RNA processing and function. I investigate how changes in RNA affect tumor growth and aggressiveness and how these changes can be used to develop better minimally-invasive liquid biopsy biomarkers and new therapeutics for prostate cancer.

Field(s) of expertise

  • Prostate cancer.
  • Biomarkers.
  • Small RNA.
  • MicroRNA.
  • Transcriptomics.
  • Epitranscriptomics.
  • Biochemistry.
  • Molecular biology.

Education and career

2017 - present: Assistant professor, Department of Urology, Erasmus MC.

2012 - 2016: Senior Research Scientist, Department of Urology, Erasmus MC.

2008 - 2012: Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Department of Urology, Erasmus MC

2002 - 2007: Doctorate (PhD) in Functional Genomics at the Department of Microbiology, Wageningen University.

1992 - 1998: Master (MSc) in Biology with specialization in Biotechnology and Molecular Biology at Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


A complete overview of publications can be found here:

Elena Martens -Uzunova

Teaching activities

  • Coordinator of the Facultative Education Course for 2nd year Bachelor in Medicine, Thema 9: 'Cancer - from bench to bead side and back'.
  • Tutor for medical students for 2nd year Bachelor of Medicine course 'Translational cancer research'.
  • Lecturer and chair for the MolMed course for PhD Students and Postdocs 'Biomedical Research Techniques' Section on 'Introduction to RNA sequencing'.
  • Host of the Critical Appraisal Journal Club for MSc and PhD students at the Department of Urology, Erasmus MC.

Student Supervision

PhD thesis Co-Promotor: 

Short visits:

  • Mina Sattari, PhD candidate (TAU, Finland).
  • Dr. Stefania Crucitta (University of Piza, Italy).
  • Nea Bister, PhD candidate (UEF, Finland).
  • Dr. Mauro Scaravilli (TAU, Finland).

Master thesis formal supervisor:

  • Curent: Jonathan Klavert.
  • Past: Tamirat Woldekiros, Michael Olvedy, Anton Kalsbeek, Sanaz Yahyanejad, Christos Chelonas.

Bachelor thesis formal supervisor:

  • Past: Jeffrey Slagter, Johan Tsui, Stanley Van Herk, Nandi Celosse, Bas Pigmans, Youri Hoogstrate.

Other positions

  • Management Committee member and representative of the Netherlands in the European Epitranscriptomics Network (EPITRAN).
  • Member of the International Society of Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) and the Netherlands Society for Extracellular Vesicles (NLSEV).
  • Affiliated Member of the European Association of Urology.
  • Former Vice-chair and board member of the PostDoc Network Board of Erasmus MC.
  • Co-founder, Founder and former board member of the Carrier Guidance Program for young research professionals at Erasmus MC funded by grant from the SoFoKles Program, 2017.

Scholarships, grants, and awards

  • 2019: Erasmus University Fellowship; by Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 2014: A personal travel award by the European Association of Urology Section of Urological Research (ESUR).
  • 2013: Award for Best Paper published on Fundamental Research in the Urological Literature in 2012 by the European Association of Urology (EAU).
  • 2013: Co-Principal Investigator, Erasmus MRACE Pilot Grant.
  • 2012: VENI , Innovation Impuls grant by the Netherland's Science Organization (NWO).
  • 2010: Principal Investigator, Erasmus MRACE Pilot Grant.
  • 2010: A personal travel award by the European Association of Urology Section of Urological Research (ESUR).
  • 2009: Best European poster personal award by the Association for Prostate Cancer Research (ATRIP).
  • 1998: A personal TEMPUS grant in education and training from the trans-European program for cooperation in higher education.