Benjamin Beck

Our research

–> Open Position for PhD student

« Characterisation of Esophageal Cancers and Metaplasia »

Esophageal cancers are significant health problems that account for approximately 450,000 new cancer cases annually worldwide. Esophageal cancer occurs as either squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma. To reduce the mortality rate associated with these cancers, it is crucial to better understand the origin of esophageal cancers and the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of these diseases and translate that knowledge into novel approaches for their diagnosis, prognosis and/or treatment.

The research in our laboratory is focused on two main areas:
• Characterization of the processes involved in the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma
• Identification of a molecular core in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

To address these questions, we use a multidisciplinary approach based on:
• Transgenic mouse models
• Conditional knockout and overexpression systems
• Lineage tracing
• 2D and 3D cell culture from mouse and human esophageal cells
• Epigenetic and transcriptomic sequencing of FACS sorted cells
• Immunostaining, in situ hybridization and qPCR

Research in Benjamin Beck’s lab is funded by the FNRS, the WELBIO, the Worldwide cancer research, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), the Région Wallonie-Bruxelles and the Télévie

Group members

Benjamin Beck, PhD, PI ( phone +32 2 555 41 62

WELBIO/FNRS principal investigator (ULB, Brussels, Belgium) – “Characterization of esophageal cancers and metaplasia”
2015 – Research associate at the IRIBHM (ULB, Brussels, Belgium) – “Mechanisms regulating the growth of esophageal cancers” 
2008 – Postdoctoral fellow at the Stem Cell and Cancer Lab (ULB, Brussels, Belgium) under the supervision of Prof. Cédric Blanpain
2007 – PhD in Biomedical Sciences (USTL, Lille, France) under the supervision of Prof. Natalia Prevarskaya

Lab members

Postdoctoral fellows

Ana Raquel Ramos, PhD ( phone +32 2 555 41 64
FNRS independent fellow – “Role of SHIP2 in esophageal cancer progression”
2014-2018 – Postdoctoral fellow at IRIBHM (ULB, Brussels, Belgium) under the supervision of Prof. Christophe Erneux
2014 – PhD in Biochemistry and Bioenergetics (University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal under the supervision of Prof. Inês A. C. Pereira

Alizée Vercauteren Drubbel, PhD ( phone +32 2 555 41 64
Postdoctoral fellow – “Molecular mechanisms involved in the initiation of esophageal metaplasia and adenocarcinoma”

2021 – PhD in Biomedical Sciences (ULB, Brussels, Belgium) under the supervision of Prof. Benjamin Beck
2016 – Master degree in Bioinformatics (ULB, Brussels, Belgium)
2014 – Master degree in Biomedical Sciences (ULB, Brussels, Belgium)

PhD Students

Giacomo Bregni, MD ( phone +32 2 555 41 61
FNRS clinical master specialist applicant to a PhD – “Role of SHIP2 in esophageal cancer”
2019-2021 – ESMO research fellow at Institut Jules Bordet (Brussels, Belgium) under the supervision of Dr. Francesco Sclafani and Dr. Alain Hendlisz
2019 – Specialisation in Medical Oncology (Università degli Studi di Genova, Genoa, Italy)
2013 – Doctor of Medicine (Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy)

Fadi Charara, MD ( phone +32 2 555 41 61
Clinical master specialist applicant to a PhD – “Interactions characterization between TME and growth pattern in esophageal cancer”
2019 – Member of the esophageal cancer surgery team (Erasme hospital)
2011 – Specialisation in visceral surgery (ULB, Brussels, Belgium)
2005 – Doctor of Medicine (ULB, Brussels, Belgium)

Benjamin Dassy, Ms ( phone +32 2 555 41 61

PhD fellow – “Mechanisms regulating cancer progression in esophageal metaplasia”
2019 – Master degree in Biomedical Sciences (ULB, Brussels, Belgium)

Louison Descampe, Ms ( phone +32 2 555 41 61
PhD fellow – “Epithelial mesenchymal crosstalk in metaplasia and cancer from the esophagus”
2021 – Additional diploma in Management (ICHEC, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium)
2020 – Master degree in Biomedical sciences (UCLouvain, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium)

Lab Manager

Sheleya Pirard, Ms ( phone +32 2 555 41 64
– Master degree in Biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology (UCL, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)
2012 – Bachelor in Chemistry (Institut Paul-Lambin, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium)


Romain Bibes, postdoctoral fellow (2017-2019) – “Impact of SHARP1 expression on sensitivity to chemotherapy in esophageal cancers”

Xavier Bisteau, independent research fellow (2020)

Juan Alfonso Redondo, postdoctoral fellow (2018-2022) – “Role of the circadian rhythm in esophageal cancers”

Adeline Augereau, postdoctoral fellow (2019-2022) – “3D models of esophageal metaplasia ex vivo”


Vercauteren Drubbel A, Beck B.  Single-cell transcriptomics uncovers the differentiation of a subset of murine esophageal progenitors into taste buds in vivo.  Sci Adv. 2023 Mar 10;9(10):eadd9135. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.add9135. Epub 2023 Mar 8. PMID: 36888721; PMCID: PMC9995038.

Bregni, G., & Beck, B. (2022, Mar). Toward Targeted Therapies in Oesophageal Cancers: An Overview.Cancers, 14(6), 1522. 

Vercauteren Drubbel, A., & Beck, B. (2021, Oct). Dedifferentiation of esophageal progenitors in metaplasia and cancer. Molecular and Cellular Oncology, 8(6), 199175. 

Vercauteren Drubbel A, Pirard S, Kin S, Dassy B, Lefort A, Libert F, Nomura S, Beck B. Reactivation of the Hedgehog pathway in esophageal progenitors turns on an embryonic-like program to initiate columnar metaplasia. Cell Stem Cell. 2021 Apr 14:S1934-5909(21)00152-1. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2021.03.019. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33882290.

Redondo, J.A., Bibes, R., Vercauteren Drubbel, A., Dassy, B., Bisteau, X., Maury, E., Beck, B., (2021, Mar). PER2 Circadian Oscillation Sensitizes Esophageal Cancer Cells to Chemotherapy. Biology 10, 266.

Augereau, A., Mariotti, M., Pousse, M., Filipponi, D., Libert, F., Beck, B., Gorbunova, V., Gilson, E., Gladyshev, V.N., (2021, Feb). Naked mole rat TRF1 safeguards glycolytic capacity and telomere replication under low oxygen. Sci. Adv. 7, eabe0174.

Ramos, AR., Ghosh, S., Suhel, T., Chevalier, C., Obeng, EO., Fafilek, B., Krejci, P., Beck, B., Erneux, C. (2019, Oct). Phosphoinositide 5-phosphatases SKIP and SHIP2 in ruffles, the endoplasmic reticulum and the nucleus: An update. Adv Biol Regul. doi: 10.1016/j.jbior.2019.100660.

Cox, B., Laporte, E., Vennekens, A., Kobayashi, H., Nys, C., Van Zundert, I., Uji-I, H., Vercauteren Drubbel, A., Beck, B., Roose, H., Boretto, M., Vankelecom, H. (2019, Feb). Organoids from pituitary as a novel research model toward pituitary stem cell exploration. J Endocrinol. doi: 10.1530/JOE-18-0462.

Latil, M., Nassar, D., Beck, B., Boumahdi, S., Wang, L. L., Brisebarre, A., Dubois, C., Nkusi, E., Lenglez, S., Checinska, A., Vercauteren Drubbel, A., Devos, M. M., Declercq, W., Yi, R. R., & Blanpain, C. (2016, novembre). Cell-Type-Specific Chromatin States Differentially Prime Squamous Cell Carcinoma Tumor-Initiating Cells for Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition. Cell stem cell. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2016.10.018 

Adriaens, C. C., Standaert, L. L., Barra, J. J., Latil, M., Verfaillie, A. A., Kalev, P. P., Boeckx, B. B., Wijnhoven, P. W. G. P., Radaelli, E., Vermi, W., Leucci, E. E., Lapouge, G., Beck, B., van den Oord, J., Nakagawa, S. S., Hirose, T. T., Sablina, A. A., Lambrechts, D., Aerts, S., Blanpain, C., & Marine, J.-C. (2016, août). P53 induces formation of
NEAT1 lncRNA-containing paraspeckles that modulate replication stress response and chemosensitivity. Nature medicine, 22(8), 861-868. doi:10.1038/nm.4135 

Bidaux, G., Borowiec, A.-S., Gordienko, D., Beck, B., Shapovalov, G. G., Lemonnier, 
L., Flourakis, M., Vandenberghe, M. M., Slomianny, C., Dewailly, E. E., Delcourt, P., Desruelles, E. E., Ritaine, A. A., Polakowska, R., Lesage, J. J., Chami, M. M., Skryma,
R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2015, juin). Epidermal TRPM8 channel isoform controls the balance between keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation in a cold-dependent manner. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(26), E3345-E3354. doi:10.1073/pnas.1423357112 

Beck, B., Lapouge, G., Rorive, S., Drogat, B., Desaedelaere, K., Delafaille, S., Dubois, C., Salmon, I., Willekens, K., Marine, J.-C., & Blanpain, C. (2015). Different Levels of Twist1 Regulate Skin Tumor Initiation, Stemness, and Progression. Cell Stem Cell, 16(1), 67-79. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2014.12.002 

Raphaël, M. M., Lehen’kyi, V., Vandenberghe, M. M., Beck, B., Khalimonchyk, S. 
S., Vanden Abeele, F., Farsetti, L. L., Germain, E. E., Bokhobza, A. A., Skryma, R., Prevarskaya, N., Mihalache, A. A., Gosset, P. P., Romanin, C. C., & Clezardin, P. (2014, septembre). TRPV6 calcium channel translocates to the plasma membrane
via Orai1-mediated mechanism and controls cancer cell survival. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(37), E3870-E3879. doi:10.1073/pnas.1413409111 

Boumahdi, S., Driessens, G., Lapouge, G., Rorive, S., Nassar, D., Le Mercier, M., Delatte, B., Caauwe, A., Lenglez, S., Nkusi, E., Brohée, S., Salmon, I., Dubois, C., Del Marmol,
V., Fuks, F., Beck, B., & Blanpain, C. (2014, juin). SOX2 controls tumour initiation and cancer stem-cell functions in squamous-cell carcinoma. Nature (London). doi:10.1038/ nature13305 

Beck, B., & Blanpain, C. (2013, octobre). Unravelling cancer stem cell potential. Nature reviews. Cancer, 13(10), 727-738. doi:10.1038/nrc3597

Lapouge, G., Beck, B., Nassar, D., Dubois, C., Dekoninck, S., & Blanpain, C. (2012, 
novembre). Skin squamous cell carcinoma propagating cells increase with tumour progression and invasiveness. EMBO journal, 31(24), 4563-4575. doi:10.1038/ emboj.2012.312 

Driessens, G., Beck, B., Caauwe, A., Simons, B. D., & Blanpain, C. (2012, août). Defining the mode of tumour growth by clonal analysis. Nature (London). doi:10.1038/nature11344 

Beck, B., & Blanpain, C. (2012, mai). Mechanisms regulating epidermal stem cells. EMBO journal, 31(9), 2067-2075. doi:10.1038/emboj.2012.67 

Bidaux, G., Beck, B., Zholos, A., Gordienko, D., Lemonnier, L., Flourakis, M., Roudbaraki, M., Borowiec, A.-S., Fernandez, J. P., Delcourt, P., Lepage, G., Shuba, Y., Skryma, R.,
& Prevarskaya, N. (2012, janvier). Regulation of activity of transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) channel by its short isoforms. The Journal of biological chemistry, 287(5), 2948-2962. doi:10.1074/jbc.M111.270256

Van Keymeulen, A., Rocha, A. S., Ousset, M., Beck, B., Bouvencourt, G., Rock, J., Sharma, N., Dekoninck, S., & Blanpain, C. (2011, octobre). Distinct stem cells contribute to mammary gland development and maintenance. Nature (London), 478. doi:10.1038/ nature10573 

Beck, B., Driessens, G., Goossens, S., Kass, Y. K., Kuchnio, A., Caauwe, A., Sotiropoulou, P., Loges, S., Lapouge, G., Candi, A., Mascré, G., Drogat, B., Dekoninck, S., Haigh, J. J., Carmeliet, P., & Blanpain, C. (2011, octobre). A vascular niche and a VEGF-Nrp1 loop regulate the initiation and stemness of skin tumours. Nature (London), 478(7369), 399-403. doi:10.1038/nature10525 

Bondue, A., Tannler, S., Chiapparo, G., Chabab, S., Ramialison, M., Paulissen, C., Beck, B., Harvey, R., & Blanpain, C. (2011, mars). Defining the earliest step of cardiovascular progenitor specification during embryonic stem cell differentiation. The Journal of cell biology, 192(5), 751-765. doi:10.1083/jcb.201007063 

Bonnefont, J., Laforge, T., Plastre, O., Beck, B., Sorce, S., Dehay, C., & Krause, K.-
H. (2011, février). Primate-specific RFPL1 gene controls cell-cycle progression through cyclin B1/Cdc2 degradation. Cell death and differentiation, 18(2), 293-303. doi:10.1038/ cdd.2010.102

Bavencoffe, A., Gkika, D., Kondratskyi, A., Beck, B., Borowiec, A.-S., Bidaux, G., Busserolles, J., Eschalier, A., Shuba, Y., Skryma, R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2010, mars). The transient receptor potential channel TRPM8 is inhibited via the alpha 2A adrenoreceptor signaling pathway. The Journal of biological chemistry, 285(13), 9410-9419. doi:10.1074/ jbc.M109.069377

Kass, Y. K., Van Keymeulen, A., Lapouge, G., Beck, B., Michaux, C., Achouri, Y., Sotiropoulou, P., & Blanpain, C. (2010, février). Identification of the cell lineage at the origin of basal cell carcinoma. Nature cell biology. doi:10.1038/ncb2031

Flourakis, M., Lehen’kyi, V., Beck, B., Raphaël, M., Vandenberghe, M., Abeele, F.
V., Roudbaraki, M., Lepage, G., Mauroy, B., Romanin, C., Shuba, Y., Skryma, R.,
& Prevarskaya, N. (2010). Orai1 contributes to the establishment of an apoptosis- resistant phenotype in prostate cancer cells. Cell death and disease, 1, 75. doi:10.1038/ cddis.2010.52

Beck, B., Lehen’kyi, V., Roudbaraki, M., Flourakis, M., Charveron, M., Bordat, P., Polakowska, R., Prevarskaya, N., & Skryma, R. (2008, mai). TRPC channels determine human keratinocyte differentiation: new insight into basal cell carcinoma. Cell calcium, 43(5), 492-505. doi:10.1016/j.ceca.2007.08.005

Lehen’kyi, V., Beck, B., Polakowska, R., Charveron, M., Bordat, P., Skryma, R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2007, août). TRPV6 is a Ca2+ entry channel essential for Ca2+-induced differentiation of human keratinocytes. The Journal of biological chemistry, 282(31), 22582-22591. doi:10.1074/jbc.M611398200 

Bidaux, G., Flourakis, M., Thebault, S., Zholos, A., Beck, B., Gkika, D., Roudbaraki, M., Bonnal, J.-L., Mauroy, B., Shuba, Y., Skryma, R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2007, juin). Prostate cell differentiation status determines transient receptor potential melastatin member 8 channel subcellular localization and function. The Journal of clinical investigation, 117(6), 1647-1657. doi:10.1172/JCI30168 

Beck, B., Bidaux, G., Bavencoffe, A., Lemonnier, L., Thebault, S., Shuba, Y., Barrit, G., Skryma, R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2007, mars). Prospects for prostate cancer imaging and therapy using high-affinity TRPM8 activators. Cell calcium, 41(3), 285-294. doi:10.1016/ j.ceca.2006.07.002 

Vanden Abeele, F., Zholos, A., Bidaux, G., Shuba, Y., Thebault, S., Beck, B., Flourakis, M., Panchin, Y., Skryma, R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2006, décembre). Ca2+-independent phospholipase A2-dependent gating of TRPM8 by lysophospholipids. The Journal of biological chemistry, 281(52), 40174-40182. doi:10.1074/jbc.M605779200 

Beck, B., Zholos, A., Sydorenko, V., Roudbaraki, M., Lehen’kyi, V., Bordat, P., Prevarskaya, N., & Skryma, R. (2006, septembre). TRPC7 is a receptor-operated DAG- activated channel in human keratinocytes. Journal of investigative dermatology, 126(9), 1982-1993. doi:10.1038/sj.jid.5700352 

Vanden Abeele, F., Bidaux, G., Gordienko, D., Beck, B., Panchin, Y., Baranova, A. V., Ivanov, D., Skryma, R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2006, août). Functional implications of calcium permeability of the channel formed by pannexin 1. The Journal of cell biology, 174(4), 535-546. doi:10.1083/jcb.200601115 

Flourakis, M., Van Coppenolle, E., Lehen’kyi, V., Beck, B., Skryma, R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2006, juin). Passive calcium leak via translocon is a first step for iPLA2-pathway regulated store operated channels activation. The FASEB journal, 20(8), 1215-1217. doi:10.1096/fj.05-5254fje 

Thebault, S., Flourakis, M., Vanoverberghe, K., Vandermoere, F., Roudbaraki, M., Lehen’kyi, V., Slomianny, C., Beck, B., Mariot, P., Bonnal, J.-L., Mauroy, B., Shuba, Y., Capiod, T., Skryma, R., & Prevarskaya, N. (2006, février). Differential role of transient receptor potential channels in Ca2+ entry and proliferation of prostate cancer epithelial cells. Cancer research, 66(4), 2038-2047. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-0376

Zholos, A., Beck, B., Sydorenko, V., Lemonnier, L., Bordat, P., Prevarskaya, N., & Skryma, R. (2005, février). Ca(2+)- and volume-sensitive chloride currents are differentially regulated by agonists and store-operated Ca2+ entry. The Journal of general physiology, 125(2), 197-211. doi:10.1085/jgp.200409161