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Trainee Jurrian publishes in leading scientific journal

Jurrian de Kanter published his first scientific article when he was an intern at the Princess Máxima Center. In this article, he described a method to identify cells in a tumor. "This is important information for treatment, but quite a puzzle to solve," he says.
"Oncological research often focuses on gene activity in a tumor," Jurrian explains, "but researchers mainly look at the tumor as a whole. They miss the heterogeneity. Tumors contain different kinds of cells, such as immune cells and stromal cells. Different genes are active in different cells." To find out which cells a tumor contains, Jurrian learned the intricacies of bioinformatics within a short period of time.

"I have a background in biology, but working in a lab is not my cup of tea," Jurrian says.
About Jurrian
During his Master's program Cancer, Stem Cells and Development in Utrecht, Jurrian de Kanter was an intern for ten months in the research group of prof. dr. Frank Holstege, supervised by dr, Philip Lijnzaad. This work resulted in the publication of a scientific article in a leading scientific journal, which is exceptional for an intern. After his second internship with dr. Marcel Kool in DKFZ in Heidelberg, he will return to the Princess Máxima Center to start as a PhD student. Read the article that he published here.

A lecture by prof. dr. Frank Holstege during his bachelor's training piqued his interest. "I was very impressed by the combination of biology and information science. These are often separated; either a research group focuses on information science or on biology, but it is the interaction between the two that takes it to a higher level. I wanted to learn that." Jurrian contacted the professor and was given an internship.

Tumor cells
By differentiating between tumor cells and looking at individual active genes, Jurrian succeeded in identifying the type of cells in a tumor. "This provides a lot of information about the origin of the tumor and is highly relevant information for treatment," he says. "Immune therapy, for instance, is only useful if the tumor actually contains immune cells."

Peripheral issues of science
"I had never done any bioinformatics before," says Jurrian, "but with good coaching I learned an awful lot. Not just the skills themselves, but also the peripheral issues of science. After three months of hard work for instance, fellow scientists published an article about a similar method. And shortly after this another four or five similar methods were published. That was a shame, as publishing is very important for a scientific career." Yet Jurrian succeeded in publishing his work: "We were different in that we focused on tumors."