Clinical & Translational Oncology

Research area

Cancer is the major cause of disease-related mortality and cancer incidence rates continue to increase. Based on demographic data it is expected that they will continue to do so until 2040, in parallel with ageing of the population. However, more effective treatment regimens have gradually lowered the chance of dying from cancer by ~10% over the past decade. To further improve cancer survival rates research on the causes of cancer, its prevention, and on new and better forms of treatment are essential.

The goal of Translational Cancer Research is to apply the knowledge obtained with basic research to the design of novel treatment modalities and novel tools for diagnosis. Vice versa, it is equally important to use clinical data to formulate scientific research questions.

Novel tumor culture protocols and sophisticated mouse models have greatly improved the quality of translational research. The clinical impact of studies using these platforms will, in all likelihood, be considerably higher than those based on traditional cell culture models. The novel model systems are also increasingly being used for studying basic aspects of tumor biology, metastasis, tumor recurrence following therapy, and therapy resistance. In addition, the rapid development of ‘omics’ technologies that document changes in tumor DNA, RNA, proteins and metabolites allow for an in-depth analysis of the tumors and the genetic background of individual patients. The large datasets that are generated with these techniques requires implementation of Bioinformatics in the research structure. Ultimately these developments should lead to true personalized cancer therapy.

Translational Research can only be successfully done in situations where clinicians and biomedical researchers collaborate closely. The PhD programme Clinical and Translational Oncology strives to optimize such collaboration and most PhD students in the program will work in such an environment.

The programme aims to maximize the clinical impact of basic research findings and to identify the conditions for successful therapy by using the above mentioned state-of-the art technologies.

Associated research groups

All information regarding our researchers and research groups can be found at our website.

Profile of prospective PhD candidates

Applicants should have completed a Master of Science or a Bachelor of Science from an accredited school (HBO) having followed a minimum of 168 weeks of education. PhD fellows that have completed a Biomedical or Medical Master’s will be best suitable candidates for the program. PhD fellows have to participate in (clinical) cancer-research projects carried out in, or associated with one of the departments of the UMC Utrecht, Biology (Utrecht University), Veterinary Medicine (Utrecht University) or Hubrecht Institute

Mission of the training programme

The mission of the PhD programme Clinical & Translational Oncology is to promote and facilitate excellent oncology research and education for all PhD candidates but with emphasis on the clinically-oriented PhD candidates that perform research projects involving the causes and behaviour of cancer in both animal models and humans as well as projects that aim to improve cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The field of cancer research is rapidly moving forward and the translation of novel preclinical findings into the clinic is the challenge ahead. Because research that involves patients or patient materials requires a different set of skills we have developed the Clinical & Translational Oncology PhD programme. The objective of the programme is to provide PhD candidates the knowledge and skills to become independent, highly qualified (bio)-medical scientists capable of crossing the bridge between bench and bedside.

Training programme (pdf)

Programme organization

Programme directorProf.dr. Susanne Lens
Programme coordinatordr. Sjoerd Elias, PhD

More information about this programme

Visit the Clinical and Translational Oncology website