Prof. Tessa Kerre is a hematologist, and is head of clinic at the Ghent University Hospital. Already in med school, at the Immunology course of Prof Jean Plum, she became intrigued by the immune system. From early on, she realised she wanted to specialise in internal medicine, and wanted to devote her professional life to the care of cancer patients. But before that, she wanted to dive in the wondrous world of science, in the field of immunology, and she became a PhD student in the lab of … Jean Plum, who became her mentor.
After she got her PhD in medical sciences and specialised in internal medicine and hematology (the study of blood and blood disorders), and more specifically blood cancer and stem cell transplantation, she wanted to merge her two passions and decided to start her own research in the field of immunotherapy, employing the immune system in the fight against cancer. At that moment (it’s 2006), immunotherapy had believers and non-believers, as the results at that time were variable.
Being a believer, Tessa wanted to engage in research on immuno-therapeutical strategies, as she was convinced that this new strategy could be a way to treat and even cure cancers that were untreatable before. In 2013 the leading scientific magazine Science declared immunotherapy ‘breakthrough of the year’. Since then, immunotherapy is evolving quickly to truly change the field of cancer therapies.
One of Tessa’s other passions is making sure that her patients understand what she’s talking about: that they understand their disease and the treatment(s) they’re receiving: getting complex things explained in a simple way is an important task for a doctor. Immunotherapy is very complex and not easy to explain. From this need, the idea rose to develop Immuno-T.