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Ward investigates the role of the circadian system in antitumor immunity

February 12, 2024

Ward Vleeshouwers started last January with his BioClock project. As a PhD candidate he will investigate the interaction between the circadian clock and the immune system, with a specific focus on tumors. His project is supervised by dr. Ramon Arens and dr. Laura Kervezee. Ward works at the LUMC on the Immunology department.

image by ward vleeshouwers

Tell us a little about yourself, who are you, where are you from and what are your hobbies?

My name is Ward Vleeshouwers and I am 23 years old. I grew up and attended university in Nijmegen, but recently moved to Leiden, where I started working on a BioClock PhD project at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). In my free time, I enjoy exercising (running, hiking, yoga) and cooking (I love Mediterranean cuisine).

What is your background?

In 2019, I obtained my BSc degree in Molecular Life Sciences from Radboud University Nijmegen. As I became increasingly interested in cell biology and tumor immunology, I joined the research Master program Molecular Mechanisms of Disease at Radboud University. During my Master studies, I performed internships at the Radboud Institute of Molecular Life Sciences in Nijmegen and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. I obtained my MSc degree in 2021 and joined the BioClock project in January 2022.

What is your project about?

It has recently become clear that many aspects of the immune system are under circadian control, but little is still known about the interplay between circadian rhythms and antitumor immunity. My PhD project at the Department of Immunology at LUMC aims to investigate the role of the circadian clock in the response to cancer immunotherapies. I am specifically interested in the function of T cells, which are key components of antitumor immunity, within this context.

When did you first hear about the biological clock?

I actually first learned about chronobiology when I read the vacancy for the project I am now working on. After reading up on the topic, I became to appreciate the direct societal and clinical relevance of studying the biological clock. I am excited about combining my other scientific interests with chronobiology in this project.

What is something that people should know about you?

I joined an Italian language course a few years ago, just for fun. I liked it so much that I continued studying. I still try to practice regularly and would like to visit Italy soon.

To get in touch with Ward:

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The BioClock Consortium is funded by the NWA-ORC programme of the Dutch Research Council (NWO; project number 1292.19.077).