PhD student within unit Health

Eline Berghmans grew up in the backyard of VITO in Mol, as it were. After her Bachelor and Master degree in biochemistry and biotechnology at the KU Leuven in 2016, a job at VITO seemed the obvious next step. But then she chose to get a doctoral degree too, before settling into a job.  As a child, Eline was already fascinated by everything to do with medicine, so she wanted to learn even more about it. And so it happened that thanks to her supervisor at the University of Antwerp, Eline found her way to VITO earlier than expected. 

A taste of two worlds 

“My supervisor actually asked me if I was up for a doctorate at VITO. I had been following the organization for some time, so what do you think? (smiles) In September 2016 I started working at VITO as a PhD student of UAntwerp. Speaking of a coincidence, right? Although I must admit that I regularly visit VITO in Mol, but most of the time I’m in Antwerp. That combination is fun, it allows me to get a taste of two worlds. More specifically, I work at the Centre for Proteomics. It is the UAntwerp core facility for proteomics and mass spectrometry, which houses mass spectrometry equipment from both UAntwerp and VITO.  

Better response to immunotherapy 

“My doctoral study joins two worlds, both of which fascinate me immensely. I belong to the research group that is studying proteins that might improve the response of lung cancer patients to immune therapy treatment. Our research started with biomedical technology, but gradually we evolved to cancer research. Multidisciplinary research, that is. My doctorate ended in August. But this is so fascinating, I can't let go of it yet.” 


“We work with a MALDI Imager in our research, this is a device that allows us to examine the presence of proteins in tissue. Our research has achieved quite a lot already. For instance, we found three proteins that effectively increase the success rate of immune therapy. We’ll be patenting it after a larger research study. I’m hopeful that the first results will convince pathological labs and hospitals to work with us. It’s so exciting.” (laughs) 

Necessary research 

“We are convinced that we can extend this research to other types of cancer. So, if you are asking me what I'm going to do after my doctorate? Well, I’d like to continue this research project. It doesn't just seem to give a perspective to cancer patients, it is certainly necessary.” 

Giving it all 

“I’m passionate about research, certainly now that it's so concrete and close to my other passion, medicine. I often come home exhausted in the evening. Sports helps me to relax. Especially running. If all goes well, I'll be running the Eindhoven marathon in October. Nothing better to clear your mind! I also love to play tennis. And, uh, I also like group classes at the gym.” (smiles) I love challenges, sports, giving it my all. I love being able to try so many new things, let’s go for it!” 

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