Medical oncologist

Focus of research
  1. Translational research in oncology, focus of upper GI cancers
  2. Clinical oncological studies and real world data analysis
  3. Psychosocial and supportive care

Hanneke van Laarhoven is a medical oncologist and head of the department of Medical Oncology at the Amsterdam University Medical Centers. In addition, she is professor of Translational Medical Oncology.

Van Laarhoven’s translational research focuses on upper GI cancers, specifically esophagogastric and pancreatic cancer. From the beginning of her career, she has been intrigued by the possibility to elucidate tumour biology in vivo and non-invasively and she has developed a unique research line at the crossroads of medical oncology, radiology/nuclear medicine, and tumour biology. Her group investigates the interplay between tumour cells and stromal cells, with a specific focus on the development of treatment resistance and possible implications for novel therapies. To facilitate this research, she set up a large biobank for esophagogastric and pancreatic cancer, including plasma and serum samples, tumor tissue for multi-omics analyses and patient derived xenografts and organoids.

Van Laarhoven has further initiated several multi-center clinical trials, both in the curative setting (e.g. TRAP-2 NCT05188313 and TAPESTRY NCT04481256), and the metastatic setting (e.g. LyRICX NCT03764553). The activities of her group have established the Amsterdam UMC as a national reference center for the systemic treatment of upper GI cancers with international recognition. The prospective cohort studies on esophagogastric cancer (www.pocop.nl) and pancreatic cancer (www.pacap.nl)  have built a strong national network to carry out clinical studies, incorporating novel trial designs.

Additional research initiatives include studies regarding quality of life, shared decision making and spiritual care. In collaboration with Radboud University Nijmegen & HKU University of the Arts Utrecht van Laarhoven started the research project ‘In Search of Stories’. This research focuses specifically on the role of artists and spiritual counsellors in palliative care (https://www.vumc.nl/research/overzicht/medische-oncologie-research/arts-oncology-lab.htm ).

Currently, she is supervising more than 30 PhD students, post-docs and research assistants from different backgrounds, such as medicine, biology, artificial intelligence, humanities, and psychology. Van Laarhoven published more than 550 peer-reviewed articles and numerous abstracts for national and international meetings.

As a result of her multidisciplinary interest, she has been elected as a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Society of Sciences (www.dejongeakademi.nl); 2014-2019) and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences (2019-present).

Van Laarhoven closely collaborates with national and international patient organizations (cf. www.nfk.nl, www.spks.nl, www.digestivecancers.eu). In her opinion, one of the important tasks of academic researchers is to make results from scientific research available to society. Therefore, she has given several interviews for radio, television and written (lay) press about her work.


Member of several national and international advisory boards of (pharmaceutical) companies.

  • Head of the department of Medical Oncology; Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Professor of translational medical oncology, specifically focused on gastrointestinal oncology; Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Board member of Cancer Center Amsterdam, officially appointed by the board of directors as of 1-6-2021.
  • Faculty Chair of the ESMO Upper-gastrointestinal cancer group
  • Member of the task force Leadership Generation of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO)