The Erasmus MC is the largest of the eight university medical centres in The Netherlands. The 50 departments contribute to the three core tasks of the Erasmus MC: patient care, research and education. The Erasmus MC has over 1,000 full time equivalent scientific staff. It was formed in 2002 from a merger of the Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) and the Academic Hospital Rotterdam. Its scientific facilities include common facilities such as Proteomics, Genomics, Bioinformatics while implementation of an (Animal) Imaging Facility, Biobank, GRID computing, Digital Research Archive and BSL3 give scientific research a special incentive ( The Department of Medical Oncology of the Erasmus MC-Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center Rotterdam has a longstanding tradition in clinical and translational cancer research. The major aim of Translational Cancer Genomics and Proteomics is to investigate the cell biological factors involved in the progression and treatment failure of cancer, in particular ovarian and breast cancer. The research section has a tissue bank containing over 15,000 tumours collected from 1978 onwards, most of them with fully documented follow-up information. It has excellent facilities for advanced high-throughput genomic and proteomic analyses, and has a large panel of well-defined 50 breast- and 40 ovarian cancer cell-lines. The group has a well-recognized track record on gene expression profiling leading to the identification of gene signatures associated with prognosis and response to therapy. All expertise, including quality controlled sample preparation, high throughput transcriptome and proteome analyses as well as bioinformatic data analysis, is available in the laboratories.


Role within the project

Erasmus participates in three WPs. It will provide the consortium with PI3K data in cfDNA in sera and plasma and -signatures and pathways and integrated analysis of treatment response profiles.


Description of key people involved in the project

  • Els MJJ Berns, PhD, is Associate Professor of Medical Oncology with tenure at the Department of Medical Oncology at the Erasmus University Medical Center-Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She is trained as a molecular cell biologist and obtained her PhD degree at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in 1986. After two years of postdoctoral training at the Scott Department of Urology at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston TX, USA) studying prostate cancer, she returned to Rotterdam in 1988.
    She is currently PI and heading the research group “Integrated genomics of treatment resistance” that is working on the prognostic and predictive role of genes, pathways and mRNAs/miRs in breast and ovarian cancer.

The main goal of the research group is to generate drug response profiles to identify biomarkers and drugable targets in order to improve treatment response. The current research focuses on: A) Characterization of miRNA, mRNA and protein expression profiles, SNPs and mutations, pathways, and histone modifications in predicting treatment outcome. B) In silico and in vitro integrated analysis of treatment response profiles. C) 40 ovarian cancer cell-line studies. The objectives are to characterize the genotype and phenotype of tumors and cell lines and integrate these to obtain expression profiles and pathways associated with drug responses. To assess whether biomarkers are putative drugable targets, functional studies in cell lines are performed.
Els Berns has mentored and lectured students in the Medical Curriculum, and trained BSc-MSc-PhD students for 24 years. She is member of several scientific parties including the AACR, EUTROC, EORTC and she chairs the EORTC-GCG Translation Research group. She has authored or co-authored (H-index=35) over 160 published papers on mainly breast and ovarian cancer, in for example Lancet, JCO and Cancer Research. She has given invited lectures at several international meetings. She is PI on multiple (inter)national projects/grants, including Susan Komen Foundation, Dutch Cancer Society, Erasmus MC, EORTC, EU-OVCAD-FP6&OCTIPS-FP7, NHMRG Australia and TI Pharma T3-108&502.


  • C Beaufort, B.Sc., is a well trained technician with cellular and molecular biology experience.


Expertise key words: biomarker/target discovery, bioinformatics, pathways, integrated genomics, cell line models, miRs, gene expression profiling, drug response, chemo- therapy, PI3K, P53 and prognostic factors.