Laboratory of Cell Death Research and Therapy

We are studying cell death and resistance pathways in tumors, how they impact the interface between cancer cells and stromal cells, modify the tumor microenvironment and anticancer therapy responses. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to combating cancer by translating molecular/cellular knowledge into therapeutic possibilities.

Patrizia Agostinis

Group Leader
VIB Group Leader VIB-Center for Cancer Biology, since March 2019
Full Professor KU Leuven since 2008
Group Leader Cell Death Research & Therapy lab, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven since 2008
FWO-Group Leader 1993-2000
FWO-Postdoctoral Fellow at KU Leuven and EMBO-fellow, University of Padova Italy, 1989-1993
PhD KU Leuven, 1988

Research areas

Human diseases Cancer Biology

Model organisms

Research focus

Growing evidence highlight that efficient tumor clearance requires effective therapy-mediated debulking along with the engagement of the immune system. The induction of regulated cancer cell death (RCD) able to reinstate, rather than suppressing, anticancer immune responses is therefore a highly desirable therapeutic effect. To be immunogenic, namely to be able to activate the immune system, therapy-induced RCD needs to deliver tumor antigens along with a spectrum of danger signals with the ability - when properly decoded by the immune system- to sustain anti-tumor immunity. However, the recognition and clearance of residual cancer cells by the immune system, requires the inactivation of various immunoresistance mechanisms, including those preventing infiltration of cytotoxic T lymphocytes in the tumor. Autophagy is commonly heightened in cancer cells and supports tumor growth and resistance to therapy, but the role of autophagy in stromal cells is still largely underappreciated. In particular, whether and how endothelial cell (EC)-intrinsic autophagy modulates the EC-T cells interface and anti-tumor immunity is largely unknown. 




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We are always on the lookout for highly motivated colleagues to join our team. If you are interested, please contact us.


The Patrizia Agostinis Lab can only thrive thanks to the dedication and commitment of its people, no matter what their function or seniority.


To stay up to date in rapidly developing fields, scientists regularly interact with (international) colleagues. Conferences and other (scientific) events are an excellent way to facilitate such a continent-spanning knowledge exchange.