In addition to their academic merits, the Evomet supervisors are extremely experienced in supervising PhD students and postdocs. Overall, the principal investigators of Evomet have supervised 110 PhD students, most of whom have subsequently continued successful careers in academia or the private sector.


Sakari Vanharanta

Associate Professor
University of Helsinki
Sakari Vanharanta (MD, PhD) has been leading an independent research group at the MRC Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge, UK, since 2014, with promotion to a Programme Leader position in 2019. His research focuses on the transcriptional mechanisms that control cancer progression, with the aim of understanding how oncogenic mutations collaborate with tissue-specific cellular programmes in support of carcinogenesis and metastasis. His group has recently discovered a novel mechanism of metastatic progression in renal cancer, suggesting a model whereby enhancer co-option from distal developmental lineages can provide the tumour-initiating VHL-HIF2A pathway with metastatic phenotypes. His work has also uncovered links between the core oncogenic transcriptional network and basic cellular metabolism in renal cancer, suggesting a mechanism for the stability of tissue-specific transcriptional programmes in cancer. The long-term goal of this work is to use the detailed mechanistic understanding of cancer progression for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for cancer patients.

Cédric Blanpain

Professor and Director
Laboratory of stem cells and cancer, Université libre de Bruxelles
Cédric Blanpain (MD, PhD) is full professor, WELBIO investigator and Director of the Laboratory of Stem Cells and Cancer at the Université libre de Bruxelles. He uses multidisciplinary approaches to uncover the existence and study the fate of stem cells during development, homeostasis and repair. He uses the same developmental approaches to uncover the cancer cell of origin as well as the role and the mechanisms by which cancer stem cells (CSCs) regulate tumor growth, metastasis and relapse after therapy. They identified the cells of origin of the most frequent epithelial cancers. Using lineage tracing and ablation, they provided direct experimental evidence for the existence of CSCs within the native tumor microenvironment and identified tumor transition states associated with metastasis and resistance to therapy. He received several very prestigious awards including the outstanding young investigator award of the International Society of Stem Cell Research, the Liliane Bettencourt award for life sciences. He has been elected member of the EMBO, the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine, and the Academia Europa.

Fabrice André

Director of Research
Gustave Roussy
Université Paris-Saclay
Fabrice André (MD, PhD) received his MD in Grenoble in 2002, and a PhD in Biotechnology from Paris University in 2005. He is a past recipient of Young Investigator and Career Development awards from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and is currently Head of Research and Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France. His research work in the field of biomarkers and personalised therapies focuses on biomarker discovery, development of targeted agents and implementation of personalised medicine. His team includes 70 people working on basic sciences, bioinformatics, biotechnologies and clinical research. He is also leading phase I-III trials testing targeted agents in the field of breast cancer and large national trials testing implementation of high throughput technologies in the healthcare system. Professor André has published more than 200 peer reviewed papers, including papers in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Nature Medicine, Science, Lancet Oncology and Journal of Clinical Oncology, either as main or co-author. Professor André is chairman of the biomarker group at UNICANCER (French cooperative group) and was a member of several scientific committees for international meetings, including SABCS, AACR, ECCO, ESMO, and IMPAKT. Professor André has been a member of the Annals of Oncology Editorial Board (2010-2013), Associate Editor since 2014 and in September 2017 became Editor-in-Chief. He has been a member of the ESMO Educational Committee since 2009, he was coordinator (2012-2014) and member (since 2015) of the ESMO Breast Cancer Faculty. Professor André was also a member of the ESMO Cancer Research Faculty, 2012-2014; and is currently chair of the ESMO Translational Research and Precision Medicine Working Group.

Roger Gomis

Group Leader
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Roger Gomis has been Group Leader at IRB since 2007. His laboratory strives to unravel the tissue-specific mediators and time-dependent components of metastasis processes. We have focused on identifying and functionally validating genes that enable breast and colon cancers to metastasize to clinically relevant sites. In addition, we established a role for chromatin marks that modulate the transcription of genes involved in luminal cell differentiation, and deregulation of this facilitates the metastatic potential of latent breast cancer cells. These findings provided insight into how genetic and epigenetic mechanisms
affect cell differentiation and its constraints over metastatic traits. Identification of the metastatic initial populations, their potential interconversions and plasticity may lead to unraveling previously unappreciated gene drivers that define founding populations and to identify how they evolved upon treatment selection and metastasis. Mapping this complexity within a drug-resistant metastatic disease may have a high clinical potential, as it provides insights into patterns of clonal evolution, mechanisms of therapy failure, and pathways for novel therapeutic targets. Roger Gomis has been a member of the IRB PhD Advisory Committee since 2008 and is currently the Chair of this committee. He has been involved in building up IRB’s PhD Programme’s training initiatives since its creation.

Anna Christina Obenauf

Group leader
Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP)
Anna Obenauf, (PhD) is a group leader at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna, Austria since 2016. The Obenauf laboratory studies oncogenic programs that drive tumour progression and their role in facilitating immune evasion with the ultimate goal to understand the molecular determinants of response and resistance to targeted and immunotherapies. To dissect the evolution of tumors during therapy or metastasis, her lab has recently developed CaTCH – a barcode guided functional lineage tracing tool that acts as a molecular time-machine and allows the identification and live-isolation of distinct cell clones within heterogeneous cell populations using CRISPRa inducible reporters. Thus, CaTCH enables the retrospective isolation and analysis of founding clones before evolutionary selection with an unprecedented resolution and purity. In the past years, her lab has also developed several model systems that recapitulate key stages of disease progression, which have allowed them to dissect the molecular mechanisms related to therapy resistance and immune evasion. Moreover, her lab recently identified new therapeutic targets in highly metastatic cancers with no known oncogenic vulnerabilities. Discoveries in her lab are enabled by core-funded state-of-the-art facilities and several grants, including an ERC starting grant. She is a member of the Young Academy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, active in training PhD students of the VBC PhD Program and is co-founder of international PhD workshop “Frontiers in Metastasis Biology”.

Mariona Graupera

Group leader
Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute (IJC)
Mariona Graupera is a Group leader at IJC, Barcelona since 2021. The overall goal of her laboratory is to understand the mechanisms that regulate the vasculature in development and disease. In this context, she has been at the forefront of uncovering novel mechanisms of vascular morphogenesis and translating this knowledge into therapeutic opportunities for diseases with aberrant angiogenesis. We approach blood vessels by studying both endothelial cells and pericytes as both play an active role in important physiological processes and cancer. Our research strategies include systems biology approaches that integrates zebrafish and mouse models, patient-derived samples, throughput analysis, and state-of-the-art high-resolution imaging at molecular, cellular, and organismal levels. Mariona Graupera has a long experience supervising young investigators, amongst them 14 PhD students. She has already participated in 2 ITN-MSCA by training 5 ESRs. From July 2021, she will serve as coordinator of a recently awarded ITN-MSCA by training another 2 ESRs. She currently teaches at the University of Barcelona (Master and undergraduate courses).

Johanna Joyce

Full Professor
University of Lausanne
Johanna Joyce is a Full Professor at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and a Full Member of the international Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. The Joyce laboratory investigates the microenvironment in which a tumour arises and the critical influence that non-cancerous immune and stromal cells can have on tumour progression and metastasis. They have uncovered regulatory signals provided by the normal tissue stroma and immune cells to the cancer cells and determined how normal cells can be modified by the cancer cells to produce a variety of factors that enhance tumour malignancy. Her group is also actively exploring the mechanisms underlying the contribution of the tumour microenvironment to therapeutic resistance. Their ultimate goal is to apply this collective knowledge to the clinic and develop targeted therapies that disrupt critical tumour-stromal interactions. In addition to her research, Johanna is dedicated to teaching, mentoring and training the next generation of scientists. She co-founded an innovative training program for students and postdocs in Lausanne (Skills for Scientists), and is the Chair of the Training & Career Development Board for the Evomet ITN.

Clare Isacke

Breast Cancer Now Research Centre at ICR
Clare Isacke is a Team Leader at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London since 2001. Her laboratory focuses on breast cancer metastasis, particularly the role of the microenvironment in promoting tumour progression and metastatic colonisation. We have active projects (a) developing new approaches for targeting the microenviroment to limit metastatic spread and enhance the efficacy of tumour targeting agents, (b) understanding the role of therapy-induced normal tissue damage in promoting metastatic colonisation and (c) studying the unique pattern of metastatic spread of invasive lobular breast cancers (ILC). Our laboratory has extensive experience in in vivo models of breast cancer metastasis, performing in vivo genetic screens and in studying the tumour microenvironment. Our work is enabled by state of the art facilities within the ‘Breast Cancer Now’ Research Centre and the ICR. Clare Isacke is the Academic Dean at the ICR and has oversight of all aspects of training and development for students.

Aleix Prat

Group leader
Head Medical Oncology
Hospital Clinic
University of Barcelona
Aleix Prat, M.D., Ph.D. Tenure-track Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology) at the University of Barcelona (UB), Head of the Medical Oncology Department at the Hospital Clínic Barcelona in Spain and Head of the Translational Genomics and Targeted Therapeutics in Solid Tumors Lab at the Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS). Since May 2019 he is the Presidency of the Governing Board of the Spanish Breast Cancer Cooperative Research Group (SOLTI). Furthermore, he is the Head of the Breast Cancer programme at IOB-Quirón Salud as well as CEO and co-founder of the recent spin-off called Reveal Genomics. In 2018, he was named member of the Executive Board of The Breast International Group (BIG), a cooperative non-profit organization of more than 56 groups around the world including more than 10,000 experts and more than 3,000 hospitals. Dr. Prat has authored more than 165 publications, a total impact factor of 1.556 and H-index of 51 with over 16.497 citations. He holds three issued patents which certificate a stable scientific career. His main interest is to implement molecular biomarkers into the clinic by designing innovative clinical trials in breast cancer and other cancer-types.

Mohamed Bentires-Alj

Full Professor
University of Basel
Mohamed (Momo) Bentires-Alj, studied Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Liège, Belgium (1991-1996), and obtained a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the same university in 2001. After a postdoc at BIDMC, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA (2001-2006), he was a group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute (2006-2016) and an ERC fellow (starting grant). In September 2016, he was appointed Professor of Experimental Surgical Oncology at the Department for Biomedicine, University of Basel. He is also chair of the Basel personalized health cancer cluster and of the Swiss Personalized Oncology. He is an ERC fellow (advanced grant). His research is focused on mechanisms regulating normal and neoplastic breast stem cells, metastasis, and resistance and on personalized medicine. He is the founder and president of the European Network for Breast Development and Cancer (ENBDC, that fosters global interactions between labs in these areas, and co- founder with Prof. Walter Weber of the Basel Breast Consortium ( committed to promoting local basic, clinical, and translational interdisciplinary research projects. He is a member of the editorial board of several journals and of different scientific advisory boards.

Sebastian Carotta

Scientific Director
External Research in the Cancer Cell Signalling Department at Boehringer Ingelheim
Sebastian Carotta is a scientific director in the Cancer Cell Signalling Department at Boehringer Ingelheim in Vienna. His laboratory focuses on (1) the role of innate immune cells in tumor development and cancer treatment and (2) the potential of immunogenic cell death for future cancer therapies. In the last years, he was leading the internal STING Agonist program that is currently being tested in a clinical phase I trial. His early research activities focus on the role of STING in the different immune subsets as well as tumor microenvironment. Before joining pharma, he was leading a group in the molecular immunology department at the Walter and Eliza Hall Insitute (WEHI) in Melbourne, Australia. His research focused then on the transcriptional regulation of dendritic cells, innate lymphocytes (ILC1,2,3) and adaptive immune cells.

Federico De Masi

Director Bioinformatics
ZS Associates
Federico De Masi obtained a BSc (hons) in Biochemistry at the University of Glasgow in June 2000 and a PhD in Biochemistry at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg in July 2004. He specialized in Gene Regulatory Networks and Protein-DNA interactions, with a focus on the bHLH family of transcription factors, during his Postdoc at the Harvard Medical School. During this Postdoctoral experience, he fully transitioned to bioinformatics research. He has been involved in international Systems Biology projects at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) since 2010 until he transitioned to a Senior Data Manager position in 2016 for the IMI-DIRECT Consortium. During his career, he has gained a large experience in many wet and dry methods, most notably in RNA-, miRNA-, and ChIP-Seq data analysis, high-throughput assay development, network biology, machine learning and protein microarrays. Since 2023, he is a Director of Bioinformatics at ZS Associates, where he is responsible for several large pipeline projects. He is also a link with DTU, both in terms of supervision of MSc and PhD students and as a Lecturer in Intellectual Property Rights. He has been a member of the DTU BIO PhD advisory committee in 2016 and 2017.