Jean-Christophe Marine Lab

Research focus

Our research group focuses on the analysis of pathways that underlie the genesis, progression and maintenance of cancer. The goal is to understand how the genes that are implicated in cancer control fundamental cellular processes in normal cells. At the same time, we wish to understand the mechanisms by which non-mutational (i.e. epigenetic and post-transcriptional) events interfere with these natural processes to bring about tumour development and to affect therapy outcome. We are particularly interested in the concept of aberrant RNA biology in cancer and the targeting of cancer cell-specific malignant RNAs.

We harness the power of mouse genetics and patient-derived xenograft (PDX) as preclinical models, in order to study cancer gene function in the in vivo relevant context and test novel (combination) therapeutic modalities.

Our research efforts follow from our studies on the p53 tumour suppressor.  For more than a decade our laboratory has been studying upstream and downstream factors that influence or modulate p53-induced biological responses. Our laboratory has recently switched from a molecule- to a disease-driven approach and developed a growing interest in melanoma biology. Several mouse models of melanoma were introduced into the lab. They are currently being extensively characterized and improved. In an ongoing effort, we also collect, catalogue and profile -down to single-cell level- tumour materials from these mice as well as from human biopsies which we obtain through collaborations with clinicians at the KU Leuven university hospital.

Our work is currently centered on 4 related axes:

  • characterization of the melanocytic lineage and melanocyte stem cells
  • identification of melanoma initiating cells and dissection of the mechanisms that contribute to early tumor development
  • inter- and intra-tumor heterogeneity
  • metastatic spreading and tumor resistance​

> video on basic research on melanoma research - Jean-Christophe Marine - ©VIB, 2015​


Toward Minimal Residual Disease-Directed Therapy in MelanomaRambow F* Rogiers A* Marin Bejar O Aibar Santos S Femel J Dewaele M Karras P Brown D Chang Y Debiec-Rychter M Adriaens C Radaelli E Wolter P Bechter O Dummer R Levesque M Piris A Frederick D Boland G Flaherty K Van Den Oord J Voet T Aerts S Lund A Marine JCELL, 174, 843-855 e19, 2018* or °: authors contributed equally
Mouse Cutaneous Melanoma Induced by Mutant BRaf Arises from Expansion and Dedifferentiation of Mature Pigmented MelanocytesKohler C* Nittner D* Rambow F Radaelli E Stanchi F Vandamme N Baggiolini A Sommer L Berx G Van Den Oord J Gerhardt H Blanpain C Marine JCell Stem Cell, 21, 679-693 e6, 2017* or °: authors contributed equally
Comparative oncogenomics identifies tyrosine kinase FES as a tumor suppressor in melanomaOlvedy M* Tisserand J* Luciani F* Boeckx B Wouters J Lopez S Rambow F Aibar Santos S Thienpont B Barra J Kohler C Radaelli E Tartare-Deckert S Aerts S Dubreuil P Van Den Oord J Lambrechts D* De Sepulveda P* Marine J*JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION, 127, 2310-2325, 2017* or °: authors contributed equally
Melanoma addiction to the long non-coding RNA SAMMSONLeucci E Vendramin R Spinazzi M Laurette P Fiers M Wouters J Radaelli E Eyckerman S Leonelli C Vanderheyden K Rogiers A Hermans E Baatsen P Aerts S Amant F Van Aelst S Van Den Oord J De Strooper B Davidson I Lafontaine D Gevaert K Vandesompele J Mestdagh P* Marine J*NATURE, 531, 518-22, 2016* or °: authors contributed equally
p53 induces formation of NEAT1 lncRNA-containing paraspeckles that modulate replication stress response and chemosensitivityAdriaens C* Standaert L* Barra J Latil M Verfaillie A Kalev P Boeckx B Wijnhoven P Radaelli E Vermi W Leucci E Lapouge G Beck B Van Den Oord J Nakagawa S Hirose T Sablina A Lambrechts D Aerts S Blanpain C Marine JNATURE MEDICINE, 22, 861-8, 2016* or °: authors contributed equally

Job openings


VIB welcomes new Marie Curie fellows

04/03/2019 - Each year, the EU launches calls for postdoc research fellowships through the Marie Sklodowksa-Curie Actions. Fellowships provided through these actions support researchers regardless of age & nationality.

Europe looks to cells for a healthier future

15/01/2019 - The body’s cells are constantly changing. But which of these changes are healthy developments and which lead to serious diseases? This is what LifeTime, a transnational and interdisciplinary initiative of leading European researchers, wants to figure out.

Insights into melanoma initiation offer new therapeutic opportunities

29/10/2018 - Researchers from VIB and KU Leuven uncovered a key vulnerability of melanoma. While studying the role of the melanoma-specific long non-coding RNA SAMMSON in tumor initiation, they found that it boosts protein synthesis in different cellular compartments.

3 projects selected in VIB grand challenges program, additional projects may follow after new call

17/09/2018 - The VIB Grand Challenges Program is a translational research program with which we aim to significantly increase the societal impact of VIB. We are convinced that this can be done by teaming up with experts outside VIB who have complementary expertise.

New insights to improve targeted therapies in advanced melanoma

12/07/2018 - A team of scientists led by Jean-Christophe Marine (VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology) has demonstrated that melanoma cells are capable of adapting their behavior when exposed to therapy to become highly resilient.

European scientists unite to track all cells in the human body

22/03/2018 - ​A consortium of European researchers will develop & apply new technologies to profile virtually all individual cells within the human body & track how they change during ageing & disease. Stein Aerts and Chris Marine (VIB-KU Leuven) are Belgian partners

Scientists pinpoint surprising origin of melanoma

12/10/2017 - ​Led by Jean-Christophe Marine (VIB-KU Leuven), a team of researchers has tracked down the cellular origin of cutaneous melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

A new unexpected key player in melanoma development identified

03/05/2017 - Rsearchers from VIB, KU Leuven together with colleagues from INSERM report the important role for FES in the initiation and progression of melanoma that is notoriously quick to metastasize and that responds poorly to existing cancer treatments.

Neat1 and SAMMSON: similar, yet different anti-cancer targets

12/11/2016 - ​A team of researchers led by Chris Marine (VIB-KU Leuven) has shown that NEAT1, a long non-coding RNA, plays an important role in the survival of highly dividing cells – cancer cells in particular.

Two Promising New Avenues Toward A Cure For Melanoma Skin Cancer

28/08/2016 - When t~ comes to finding a cure for melanoma skin cancer, major strides are being taken as we speak. One of the driving forces behind this great work is Chris Marine (VIB/KU Leuven).

VIB researchers reveal new therapeutic avenue in the fight against cancer

04/07/2016 - A team of researchers led by professor Jean-Christophe Marine (VIB-KU Leuven) has identified NEAT1, a non-coding RNA, as a potential therapeutic target in the fight against cancer.

VIB, KU Leuven and UGent scientists achieve breakthrough in diagnosis and therapy of melanoma skin cancer

23/03/2016 - In collaboration with researchers from UGent, VIB scientists from KU Leuven have revealed a remarkable link between malignant melanoma and a non-coding RNA gene called SAMMSON.

Research reveals promising novel strategy to target cancer-causing protein

15/12/2015 - A team of scientists, comprising researchers from IMCB, A*STAR, VIB/KU Leuven has revealed the mechanism by which tumor cells elevate levels of MDM4, a protein that is highly expressed in cancer cells but not in normal adult tissues.

Epigenomic changes play an important role during the progression of melanoma

09/04/2015 - ​Researchers at KU Leuven, in Belgium, have zeroed in on what makes cancer cells in melanoma so aggressive. They also succeeded in taming the effect in cell cultures.

New insights into cancer treatment

15/03/2011 - Cop1 has –for a long time - been seen as an attractive drug target for cancer. But Jean-Christophe Marine found out that Cop1 acts as a tumor suppressor. His new data will have direct implications for the development of cancer drug targets.

Jean-Christophe Marine

Jean-Christophe Marine

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)


​​PhD: Univ. of Liège, Liège, Belgium, 1996
Postdoc: St Jude Children's Research Hosp., Memphis, USA, 1996-99
Postdoc: European Inst. of Oncology (IEO), Milan, Italy, 2000-'02
Chercheur Qualifié FNRS, Brussels, Belgium, 2002-04
VIB Group leader since 2004
EMBO Young Investigator, 2006
VIB Science Director since 2017​

Contact Info

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer BiologyO&N 4, 9e verdCampus GasthuisbergHerestraat 49, bus 912 3000 LEUVENRoute description