Our website uses cookies. We use cookies to remember settings and to help provide you with the best experience we can. We also use cookies to continuously improve our website by compiling visitor statistics. Read more about cookies

Ronald de Krijger appointed professor of pathology

Ronald de Krijger, pathologist at the Prinses Máxima Center, has been appointed professor of Pathology of solid pediatric tumors at UMC Utrecht. In his new role, Prof. dr. De Krijger aims to improve the translation of new developments within pathology to the care of children with cancer. 'More and more knowledge about tumors is becoming available from my field. We need to use this knowledge as effectively as possible as the basis for determining the best treatment plan for a child.'
Annually, about 190 children in the Netherlands are diagnosed with a solid tumor. This includes, for example, neuroblastomas, kidney, liver and germ cell tumors. From pathology, the type, and often subtype, is determined. For solid tumors, this is usually done through a piece of tumor, a biopsy. This is examined not only by the pathologist, but also by the molecular biologists and bioinformaticians at the Máxima Children's Oncology Laboratory. In addition to the diagnosis, the pathologist also shares information with the treating physicians that is important for the prognosis and for the nature and type of treatment. This information forms the basis for establishing the most appropriate treatment plan.

Developments within pathology

Within pathology, research is conducted to improve existing, as well as finding new methods and technologies. De Krijger: 'It is important that from pathology we keep up with the latest developments, so that we can make the correct diagnosis and give the best advice based on as much reliable data as possible. For example, we are looking at how we can use so-called immunohistochemical staining to demonstrate the presence and activity of immune cells in tumor tissue. This could help in choosing the best suited immunotherapy.'

Using artificial intelligence, De Krijger wants to improve and speed up analyses and hopes to gain new insights. 'By teaching the computer to recognize parts in the tumor, microscopic images of the tissue can be analyzed automatically. This saves us a lot of time, and because of the automation, the process is less prone to error.

In addition, De Krijger sees opportunities in having computers perform analyses independently. 'We collect enormous amounts of data. The computer may find connections that we didn't see before, but which could help us determine the best treatment plan for certain groups of children.'

Linking research and care

Pathologists participate in the tumor board. In this consultation, specialists from healthcare and research come together to arrive at the most appropriate treatment plan for each child. 'The tumor board is a very nice example of the Máxima Center as a research hospital. This is where the clinic and research literally come together. As pathologists, we have a bridging function between the two groups, because we can translate developments from research, related to pathology, into clinical applications as quickly as possible. I therefore see it as my role to see how we can strengthen the collaboration even further in order to function as a tumor board as optimally as possible for the child.

Previously, de Krijger held the chair of pediatric pathology at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. After working outside academia for a period, de Krijger returned in 2018. 'I really like the fact that this appointment allows me to share my knowledge of pathology more widely again. Within the training of PhD students, but also in the lecture hall. With this I hope to inspire the next generation of doctors and scientists and show from my experience how valuable the subject of pathology is for the treatment of children with cancer.'

This chair, which falls under the Cancer spearhead, is part of the Department of Pathology at UMC Utrecht and part of the Faculty of Medicine at Utrecht University. The appointment is effective June 15, 2023. Ronald de Krijger's inauguration will take place at a later date.