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Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO
Associate Investigators

Elisabeth Wik

Dr. Elisabeth Wik has been a member of the Tumor Biology Research Group (directed by Akslen) since 2013, in combination with a position as resident at the Department of Pathology, Haukeland University Hospital. Currently she is also leader of the CCBIO Research School for Cancer Studies.

Portrait photo.
Photo:
Ingvild Festervoll Melien

Research focus

Elisabeth Wik's main research interest is tissue biomarkers in breast cancer, with a particular focus on breast cancer of the young. The aim is to translate integrated multi-level tissue data into more precise diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, for improved survival and quality of life. Dr. Wik works in close collaboration with Professor Lars A. Akslen on breast cancer biomarker studies, and she is the leading investigator for studies focusing on young breast cancer patients. Wik is experienced in integrating large-scale omics data and clinico-pathologic information, and focuses in particular on age-related biologic characteristics in breast cancer and its relation to the established molecular subtypes. Dr. Wik was recruited to a permanent faculty position (associated professor) in 2018.

Projects

  • Microenvironment alterations in relation to angiogenesis in breast cancer.
  • Effects of dopaminergic compounds in breast cancer, assessing the potential for drug repurposing in subsets of breast cancer patients.
  • Exploring and validating composite (signature) biomarkers, with improved potential for capturing tumor complexity.
  • Characterization of tumors of young breast cancer patients, including assessment of the PAM50 signature.
  • Estrogen receptor signaling-related biomarkers, including coordinated hormone receptor-immune response programs.

Important results

  • Wrap-up phase of several postdoc papers (topics: neuro-angiogenesis; angioimmunogenic properties in subsets of breast cancer).
  • Recruitment of one PhD student and two Medical Research Program students that will start in 2019.
  • First (core) paper on the cohort of young breast cancer patients to be published in 2019.
  • As coordinator of CCBIO’s INTPART project, several collaborative activities between CCBIO and the Vascular Biology Program (VBP) at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School were successfully initiated, e.g. CCBIO907 Cancer Related Vascular Biology (a 3 week course), a lab visiting exchange program and a seminar in scientific writing (2-day course).

Current challenges in the field

Taking tumor complexity and heterogeneity into account in tissue based studies of cancer biomarkers is a true challenge that needs focused attention. Further, strengthening the integration of multi-level omics data in biologically meaningful ways in translational biomarker studies is needed, along with translation of the ‘resultomics’ into biological and clinical relevant information.

CCBIO focus in the coming years

Imaging mass cytometry (IMC) technology will be applied on FFPE breast cancer tissues from different cohorts, for example in the project on ER-related biology and immune responses (Anna Sæle). Multilevel computational diagnostics in breast cancer will be explored, and a prospective breast cancer biobank will be established. As a recently appointed associate professor at UiB, one major goal is to establish research and educational collaborations within and outside of the CCBIO local, national and international networks.

An important and continued aim is to collaborate with the CCBIO ELSA/RRI team, and include aspects from studies of the humanities in the group’s projects.

Dr. Wik is the director of the CCBIO Research School for Cancer Studies, and plans to consolidate the existing program and further develop research school activities.