Elly Marcq is a biomedical scientist with specialization in infectious and tropical diseases. She obtained her bachelor (2012) as well as her master degree (2014) at the University of Antwerp. Early in her studies she realized that biomedical sciences was a research area with a lot of unsolved problems, which triggered her curiosity even more. Given her special interest in the working mechanisms of the immune system, she focused on immunology-related courses during her master. During the 1st year she did her research internship on tumor immunology at the Laboratory of Experimental Hematology (UAntwerp and Antwerp University Hospital), more specifically on the role of natural killer cells in anti-tumor responses. Next, she took the opportunity to do her thesis abroad via an Erasmus exchange program, at the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS) in Braga, Portugal. At ICVS, she investigated the role of the innate and acquired immunity in guinea pigs during infection with Mycobacterium ulcerans in the ear. She discovered that although all immune cells play an important role in the protection against this disease, this protective effect could sometimes also be detrimental.
Ever since her graduation in 2014, she has been eager to continue to unravel the mysteries of the immune system. For this reason, she has chosen for her current PhD project ‘Investigation of programmed death-1 and its ligands as novel immunotherapeutic targets in malignant pleural mesothelioma’, which is a symbiosis between immunology and oncology. Her PhD is performed in the Solid Tumor Immunology Group of the Center for Oncological Research at the University of Antwerp. She succeeded in obtaining a PhD fellowship from the Agency for Innovation through Science and Technology in Belgium. In her research project she will investigate how to take advantage of the immune system to treat cancer. She will study the role of different immune cells in anti-tumor responses and she will try to unravel the working mechanisms of immune checkpoint inhibitors. With her research, Elly hopes to contribute to the development of new immunotherapeutic strategies that will prolong the survival of mesothelioma patients.