Meet the Jury: ‘Breast Cancer phosphatases’ by prof. Jukka Westermarck

You are kindly invited to the Meet the Jury lecture ‘Breast Cancer phosphatases’ by prof. Jukka Westermarck

Date: 15 December 2023 – 14h00-15h00
Venue: Campus Gasthuisberg, Auditorium O&N5, (ON5-04.112)

Although diagnosis and outcome of breast cancer has improved during past decades, breast cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in women. Thereby, new therapy options and better patient stratification strategies for existing therapies are needed. Basal-like triple-negative (BL-TNBC) and HER2 positive (HER2+) breast cancers are among the clinically most aggressive subtypes. Whereas BL-TNBC patients lack any molecularly targeted therapies, HER2+ cancers can be targeted by therapeutic antibodies, and by small molecule HER2/EGFR inhibitors. However, a significant fraction of HER2+ breast cancers treated with these agents eventually relapse and develop to a deadly disease. In addition, both BL-TNBC and HER2+ cancers are relatively more resistant to both chemotherapy and radiation therapy than the other breast cancer types. Thereby, further understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving progression and therapy resistance of these aggressive breast cancer subtypes is a clinically highly relevant cancer research question. Phosphatases control all major oncogenic pathways and they have an important role in cancer therapy resistance. Phosphatases have also recently become druggable by small molecules. However, which specific phosphatases are particularly relevant as disease and therapy resistance drivers, or as therapy targets, in which breast cancer subtype is still poorly characterised. In this presentation, I will discuss our most recent findings identifying the roles or PP2A and DUSP6 phosphatases in BL-TNBC and HER2+ breast cancers, respectively, and present preclinical data indicating that their pharmacological targeting could provide a novel approach to overcome therapy resistance.

About the speaker:

Prof. Jukka Westermarck, MD, PhD
Professor of Cancer Biology, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku
Research Director, Turku Bioscience Centre, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland

Prof. Westermarck earned his medical degree in 1996, and his PhD degree in 1998 from University of Turku. He was working as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dirk Bohmann during 1999-2001 in the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. After being appointed as Academy Fellow by the Academy of Finland, he established his own research group at Turku Centre for Biotechnology in 2002. In 2010 he was appointed as a tenure Research Director of Turku Centre for Biotechnology, and as a Professor of Cancer Biology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Turku. In 2012, he worked as a visiting Professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, and in 2021 at IFOM, Milan.
Prof. Westermarck is one of the international leaders of the phosphatase field. His work focuses on the role and regulation of phosphatases, particularly tumor suppressor protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) in human cancers. Based on this work his group has identified several novel signaling principles how PP2A regulates cancer progression, as well as potential novel cancer therapy targets and diagnostic biomarkers. He is a very active inventor (5 accepted worldwide patent families and 6 patent applications).

For more info, or options/time slot for in-person discussion, contact:
Prof Veerle Janssens, LPPP, Dept. CMM, veerle<dot>janssens<at>kuleuven<dot>be


  • DATE
    15 December, 2023
    icon O&N 5, Campus Gasthuisberg
    Herestraat 49
    3000 Leuven
    Auditorium O&N5
    PhD postdoc ZAP