Marcel de Zoete

Associate Professor -

Marcel de Zoete completed his PhD thesis at the Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology of Utrecht University, The Netherlands in 2010, in which he focused on the interactions of intestinal bacterial pathogens with the innate immune system. During a postdoc at the Department of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine, in the lab of Prof. Dr. Richard Flavell, he studied which and how bacterial members of the intestinal microbiota contribute to diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic syndrome. As of 2015 he is a principle investigator; first as Assistant Professor at the Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology of Utrecht University, and since 2019 as Associate Professor at the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands. His research focusses on the molecular mechanisms through which the microbiota and their metabolites, by targeting epithelial, stromal and immune cells, influence intestinal health and disease.

Janetta Top

Assistant Professor - 

Janetta did her PhD on the molecular epidemiology of Enterococcus faecium at the UMCU under the supervision of Prof. Rob Willems. Afterwards, she performed research on the functional genomics of E. faecium. Since 2020 she became more involved in microbiome data analysis within the microbiome center also in the group of Rob Willems. Currently, she is leading this microbiome center, where we study how the interactions between microbiota and the human affect health and disease. To achieve this, we use state-of-the-art technology like 16S rRNA gene sequencing and shotgun metagenomics.

Merel van Gogh

Merel received her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and Master’s degree in Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental biology at the Utrecht University. Afterwards, she moved to Switzerland for her PhD in Cancer Biology. During her PhD she mainly focused on the tumor microenvironment, cancer immunology and metastasis. In July 2023 she started as a postdoc in the lab of Marcel de Zoete. Here, she focuses on the interplay between cancer and the microbiota. Specifically, she is working on the role of the intestinal microbiota during immunotherapy response in cancer patients. The aim is to understand how immunomodulatory bacteria influence both the response rate and adverse events during immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, to ultimately improve the lives of cancer patients. In her spare time she likes to play boardgames, travel and hike in the Swiss mountains.

Freke Schaafsma

 PhD Student - 

Freke joined the group in January 2024 as a PhD student investigating the interactions between gut commensal bacteria and the host. For this, she studies how different probiotic bacteria, single strain or in consortia, impact host cells and molecules with a focus on immunomodulatory effects. Besides her research project, Freke loves to spend time with family and friends. She enjoys being active and to join cultural activities.

Moniek Salomons

Lab Technician - 

Moniek started working in the UMCU in 2015 at the bacteriology diagnostics department. In 2019 she made the transition to research. She worked on different projects like whole genome sequencing of E.coli from urine and blood samples. She now works with specific strains from the gut, like Akkermansia, Allobaculum, Lactobacillus and Fusobacterium to unravel their mysteries. Besides that she is the lab coordinator, participates in the practicum giving to students and is helping PhD students with experiments. In her spare time she likes to spend time with family and friends and go to the gym.

Sanne Grave

 Lab Technician - 

Sanne joined the group in July 2023.   

She is working on expanding the anaerobic microbiota strain collection, for co-culture experiments with pathogenic bacteria, amongst other applications. Besides that she is performing metagenomics work, like 16S sequencing, for different projects. Sanne likes to bike to work and listen to podcasts and audiobooks on her way to the lab.

Anna Celli

Lab technician - 

Anna joined the group in September 2023 as a lab technician after obtaining her Master’s degree in Medical Biotechnology from Wageningen University and Research. Her work  within the group concerns collaborating and supporting Merel with the HARNESS project which focuses on the interplay between microbiota and checkpoint inhibitory therapy . In her free time, she can be found strolling in the Veluwe, baking or embarking on do-it-yourself projects with a 50% failure rate.

Nadine Abrahamse

MSc Student - 

Nadine started working in the group in October 2023 as a part of her Master’s program in Infection and Immunity. Her project focuses on differences in the microbiota of healthy individuals and those with intestinal dysbiosis, such as inflammatory bowel disease patients. Outside of the lab, Nadine can be found going for a run, in the kitchen cooking or baking, or curling up with a good book. 


Coco Duizer

(former) PhD candidate - 

Coco started his PhD in October 2019 working on the effect of bacterial metabolites development of intestinal pathologies such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colorectal cancer. More specifically, the project has focused on the role of metabolites released by the oncobacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum on inflammation, viability and DNA damage in colorectal cancer cells.

Coco enjoys several sports in his spare time, such as fitness, running and football. If not playing sports, he likes to still be (too) competitive playing boardgames.

Jiannan Cui

(former) PhD candidate

Jiannan Cui obtained his PhD from the University Medical Center Utrecht in January 2023 with his thesis “ADP-heptose as driver of intestinal inflammation” focusing on the molecular mechanisms of this molecule exploits to induce inflammation through the ALPK1 pathway

Guus van Muijlwijk

(former) PhD Student 

Guus obtained his PhD from UMC Utrecht in 2022 by defending his thesis “Dissecting the intestinal mucosal niche with the pathobiont Allobaculum mucolyticum”. During his PhD, he studied host-microbe interactions between gut bacteria and the host immune system on a molecular scale with particular regard to intestinal barrier disruption and intestinal inflammation mechanism and the role of sIgA glycosylation on neutrophil activation.

Raghuvandhanan Kumarasamy Sivasamy

(former) MSc Student

Raghu joined the De Zoete lab as an intern as part of his MSc studies in Infection and Immunity. Under Coco Duizer's supervision, he worked on two projects: "Investigating the Role of ALPK1 in DNA Damage Response" and "Exploring Genetic Modifications in Fusobacterium nucleatum using Tn5 Transposon Mutagenesis and Homologous Recombination." In his free time, he can be seen with a badminton racket or creating new recipes.

Merel Sijbranda

MSc Student 

In 2022, Merel joined the De Zoete group as part of  her MSc studies while working on the project “Unraveling the role of F. nucleatum produced small molecules in the aetiology of colorectal cancer”under the supervision of Coco Duizer.

Maaike Stok

(former) MSc Student

Maaike joined the De Zoete lab in 2021 under the supervision of Coco Duizer and focused on two different research topics: “Unravelling the influence of the colitogenic genus Allobaculum on colorectal cancer organoids” and “Understanding the pro-carcinogenic role of Fusobacterium nucleatum in colorectal cancer”.

Bogdan Sisca

MSc Student

In 2020, Bogdan joined the De Zoete Lab for his master’s thesis internship under the supervision of Guus van Muijlwijk . He worked on the project “Allobaculum NANH sialidase functions as adhesion factors and enhances neutrophil activation by modifying secretory IgA” with the goal of elucidating how pathobionts may cause intestinal inflammation.

Isa Segers

BSc Student 

 Isa did her bachelor's internship in the DeZoete Lab studying Campylobacter and its toxic mechanisms under Jannan Cui's supervision.