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Dr. Léon C. van Kempen
Investigator, Lady Davis Institute
Department of Pathology, McGill University, Lady Davis Institute
Dr. Van Kempen received his Ph.D.cum laude in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in 2001. There, he studied mechanisms of ALCAM-mediated cell adhesion and its contribution to cutaneous melanoma cell invasion and metastasis. After two years of postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Lisa Coussens at the University of California in San Francisco, where he studied the role of extracellular matrix remodeling on squamous cell carcinoma development and progression, he returned to Radboud University, at its Department of Pathology, in 2002, and was appointed Associate Professor in 2008. His studies focused on cutaneous melanoma and gynecological cancers. In September 2010, he was recruited by McGill’s Department of Pathology, where he continuous to study cutaneous melanoma. Dr. Van Kempen currently studies novel tumor suppressor genes with the aim of identifying novel therapeutic targets that are applicable, not only for melanoma, but a wide variety of cancers.
Dr. Van Kempen was the co-founder and co-chair of the Young Investigator Network of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer - Melanoma Group (EORTC-MG) from 2006 to 2012. He has been a member of its Pathology Committee since 2008 and chair of its Translation Research Committee since 2012.
Major Research Activities
Woman with metastasized cutaneous melanoma have a much better survival rate than men. Dr. Van Kempen currently investigates the underlying molecular mechanism of this gender effect and currently focusses on the mechanisms of differential gene expression from the X and Y chromosomes. Current projects include the role of chromatin remodeling and cancer progression, functional validation of novel tumor suppressor genes, and subsequent identification of drugable targets.

In addition, he takes lead in the design of translational research programs associated with multicenter clinical trials in melanoma to identify predictive biomarkers for therapy and to understand the mechanism of disease progression.

Recent Publications
vanKilsdonk JW, Takahashi N, Weidle U, Burtscher H, Jarry J, Daha MR, Swart GW, van Kempen LC: Modulation of activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule-mediated invasion triggers an innate immune gene response in melanoma.J Invest Dermatol. 2012;132(5):1462-70.

Lindsay CR, Lawn S, Campbell AD, Faller WJ, Rambow F, Mort RL, Timpson P, Li A, Cammareri P, Ridgway RA, Morton JP, Doyle B, Hegarty S, Rafferty M, Murphy IG, McDermott EW, Sheahan K, Pedone K, Finn AJ, Groben PA, Thomas NE, Hao H, Carson C, Norman JC, Machesky LM, Gallagher WM, Jackson IJ, Van Kempen L, Beermann F, Der C, Larue L, Welch HC, Ozanne BW, Sansom OJ.P-Rex1 is required for efficient melanoblast migration and melanoma metastasis.Nat Commun. 2011;2:555.

Spatz A, Stock N, Batist G, van Kempen LC: The biology of melanoma prognostic factors.Discov Med. 2010;10(50):87-93.

Dr. Léon van Kempen is an internationally recognized scientist in the field of melanoma.

He was the first to identify ALCAM as a modulator of melanoma invasion and as a biomarker for prognosis in cancer (Am J Pathol, 1998), and one of the first to appreciate the pro-tumorigenic role of the tumor microenvironment (Eur J Cell Biol, 2003; EurJCancer 2006).

He chairs the translational research committee of Europe’s largest multinational clinical research organization for treatment of melanoma (EORTC-MG).

His current research is focused on the molecular mechanisms that can explain why woman with metastasized melanoma have better chances for survival then men.

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