Peter Van Loo

Cancer Genomics Laboratory

Our group aims to leverage the wealth of data from massively parallel sequencing efforts to understand carcinogenesis and cancer evolution.

Cancer is caused by somatic changes to the genome. Breakthrough sequencing technologies now enable us to compare the genomes of cancer cells to those of normal cells to base-pair resolution. This in theory allows us to identify all point mutations, small insertions and deletions, genomic rearrangements and copy number changes in a cancer cell, providing a unique opportunity to look at the genes and processes involved in cancer. As genomic changes occur throughout a tumour's lifetime, a cancer's genome is also an archaeological record of its past, allowing a unique view of the tumour's evolutionary history.

Our group focuses on integrating cancer genomics data across tumour types to gain insight into the genes involved in cancer and into tumour evolution. This includes characterising the landscape of cancer genes, with a focus on identifying rare tumour suppressors through pan-cancer approaches integrating copy-number data with other mutation classes. In addition, we are developing "molecular archaeology" approaches that use cancer genomes to obtain detailed timelines of cancer development across thousands of cancers.

As the cancer genome gradually reveals its secrets, we also focus on the next challenge: to understand how genomic changes lead to transcriptomic (and proteomic, interactomic, etc) changes to finally cause cancer. As a first step to tackle this, we are developing approaches to disentangle transcriptomes of admixed normal cells from cancer cell transcriptomes. We will next use these methods to study the relationship between genomic changes and the transcriptome of cancer cells.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Phylogenetic tree of a breast cancer, derived from massively parallel sequencing data. (Click to view larger image)

Selected publications

Nik-Zainal S, Van Loo P, Wedge DC, Alexandrov LB, Greenman CD, Lau KW, Raine K, Jones D, Marshall J, Ramakrishna M, Shlien A, Cooke SL, Hinton J, Menzies A, Stebbings LA, Leroy C, Jia M, Rance R, Mudie LJ, Gamble SJ, Stephens PJ, McLaren S, Tarpey PS, Papaemmanuil E, Davies HR, Varela I, McBride DJ, Bignell GR, Leung K, Butler AP, Teague JW, Martin S, Jönsson G, Mariani O, Boyault S, Miron P, Fatima A, Langerød A, Aparicio SA, Tutt A, Sieuwerts AM, Borg Å, Thomas G, Salomon AV, Richardson AL, Børresen-Dale AL, Futreal PA, Stratton MR, Campbell PJ; for the Breast Cancer Working Group of the International Cancer Genome Consortium. The life history of 21 breast cancers. Cell. 2012;149:994-1007

Stephens PJ, Tarpey PS, Davies H, Van Loo P, Greenman C, Wedge DC, Nik-Zainal S, Martin S, Varela I, Bignell GR, Yates LR, Papaemmanuil E, Beare D, Butler A, Cheverton A, Gamble J, Hinton J, Jia M, Jayakumar A, Jones D, Latimer C, Lau KW, McLaren S, McBride DJ, Menzies A, Mudie L, Raine K, Rad R, Chapman MS, Teague J, Easton D, Langerød A; Oslo Breast Cancer Consortium (OSBREAC), Lee MT, Shen CY, Tee BT, Huimin BW, Broeks A, Vargas AC, Turashvili G, Martens J, Fatima A, Miron P, Chin SF, Thomas G, Boyault S, Mariani O, Lakhani SR, van de Vijver M, van 't Veer L, Foekens J, Desmedt C, Sotiriou C, Tutt A, Caldas C, Reis-Filho JS, Aparicio SA, Salomon AV, Børresen-Dale AL, Richardson AL, Campbell PJ, Futreal PA, Stratton MR. The landscape of cancer genes and mutational processes in breast cancer. Nature. 2012;486(7403):400-4.

Van Loo P, Nordgard SH, Lingjærde OC, Russnes HG, Rye IH, Sun W, Weigman VJ, Marynen P, Zetterberg A, Naume B, Perou CM, Børresen-Dale AL, Kristensen VN. Allele-specific copy number analysis of tumors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107(39):16910-5.

Peter Van Loo
+44 (0)20 379 61719

  • Qualifications and history
  • 2008 PhD in Medical Sciences, University of Leuven, Belgium
  • 2008 Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Cancer Research, University of Oslo, Norway
  • 2009 Postdoctoral Fellow, VIB and University of Leuven, Belgium
  • 2010 Postdoctoral Fellow, Cancer Genome Project, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK
  • 2014 Established lab at the London Research Institute, Cancer Research UK
  • 2015 Winton Group Leader, the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK