Leila Akkari, Ph.D.
Junior Group Leader
My scientific interests on understanding the external cues regulating cancer malignancy stem from early on in my scientific training, with the realization that despite the groundbreaking discoveries of oncogenes and tumor suppressors, effective therapeutic options are still limited. That is because tumor progression relies on more than genomic alterations, and cancers evolve within a complex tissue microenvironment. Thus, to impact therapeutic outcome, our understanding of cancer dynamics and diversity must not solely view cancer cells as the fundamental unit, but as part of an integrated and reactive system centered around heterotypic communication with their environment. To understand tissue-level complexity, I have sought to diversify my skills and expertise throughout my training in an effort to determine the multifactorial cues that underlie tumor behavior. I come from a diverse and multidisciplinary scientific background that ranges from immunology and parasitology, to virology and cancer biology. My personal background is also quite diverse, with roots in Africa and the Middle East, and I have lived in the south of France, England, New York City, Switzerland and now Amsterdam. During these experiences, I have enjoyed meeting new friends, discovering different life styles and culture, and learning how to Zumba!