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Leila Akkari

Division of Tumor Biology & Immunology, Oncode Institute. Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), NL

My PhD in health sciences at the Molecular Genetics Institute of Montpellier, CNRS, was focused on studying the effects of HCV viral proteins on cancer initiation through alteration of hepatocyte polarity and cell shape. These years triggered my interest in understanding the mechanisms by which extracellular cues regulate cell transformation. Once my PhD finished,

I wanted to develop my focus in the tumor microenvironment field in rare tumors, and I joined Prof. Johanna Joyce's laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. During this time, I began to work with mouse models of brain and pancreatic cancer, primarily focusing on tumor associated macrophages and their pro-tumorigenic roles in multiple tumor microenvironment.

In 2017, I became an Assistant Professor at the NKI, where I lead a research group at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam that is interested in the microenvironment-mediated mechanisms of tumor maintenance and therapeutic resistance to therapy in brain and liver malignancies.

The main focus of our research is to understand and target the dynamic changes in the tumor microenvironment that are associated with cancer malignancy, with a particular interest in macrophages, a highly plastic and heterogenous immune cell type in solid cancers. My lab uses a plethora of murine models of cancers to develop and test microenvironment- targeted drugs in a stage-dependent and population-dependent manner.

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