Sr. Postdoctoral researcher / Head Cell Signaling Dynamics group

Area(s) of interest

  • Intravital microscopy
  • Breast cancer
  • Dormancy
  • Melanoma
  • Metastasis
  • TGF-beta signaling
  • Website:


Laila is a senior postdoc and head of the Cell Signaling Dynamics group at the LUMC, Dept. CCB. Her areas of interest include dormancy, intravital imaging, metastasis and microscopy. In April 2016 Laila started her own research line at the LUMC in Leiden in close collaboration with Peter ten Dijke. She uses intravital microscopy to study signaling dynamics during liver colonization and dormancy.

Laila is from the Netherlands, where she obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Bio-Medical Science. As part of these degrees she completed internships at the Dutch Cancer Institute (NKI), University Medical Center Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Peter MacCallum Cancer Center (Australia). She performed her PhD in the lab of Jacco van Rheenen at the Hubrecht Institute (the Netherlands) and studied the metastatic process using high-resolution intravital microscopy. During her graduate work she developed and optimized high-resolution intravital imaging technologies to study the metastatic process at the cellular level in living animals (Ritsma et al., Sci Transl Med, 2012; Ritsma et al., Nature Protocols, 2013; Ritsma et al., Nature Communications, 2013). Her work uncovered a highly migratory stage during liver metastasis colonization (Ritsma et al., Sci Transl Med, 2012) and provided new insights into intestinal stem cell homeostasis (Ritsma et al., Nature, 2014). She received an award from her graduate school (CS&D) in 2013 for the best publication of the past year, which was based on her Sci Transl Med paper in 2012. She graduated from Utrecht University in June 2013 and received the "ESMI Award for excellent PhD thesis" for her work performed in the van Rheenen lab.

In August 2013 she joined the Ramaswamy lab as a postdoctoral fellow. To perform her postdoctoral work she received the “rubicon” grant from the Dutch organization of Scientific Research (NWO) and a "postdoctoral fellowship" from the Susan G. Komen foundation, Tx, USA. Within the research laboratory of Sridhar Ramaswamy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) she uncovered a new factor that increases Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs) in melanomas. She observed that activation of integrin beta1 leads to the release of active TGF-beta, which in turn increases TILs in a preclinical mouse model. This is associated with a long-term memory response and long-term survival. Moreover, these results were verified in patients using TCGA analyses (Ritsma et al, PlosOne, 2013).

Laila Ritsma's group now continues studying melanoma and breast cancer colonization of the liver using multiphoton intravital microscopy (See Research projects, below). 

Research projects




Funding and awards


2017     PI, LUF subsidy Leids Universiteits Fonds,                                                        €25K

2017     PI, consortium grant                                                                            €300K

2016     PI, Veni grant NWO – Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research                      €250K

2015     PI, Gisela Thier Fellowship LUMC, the Netherlands                                           €400K

2015     PI, Susan G. Komen postdoctoral fellowship Susan G Komen foundation, USA           $180K

2013     PI, Rubicon Fellowship NWO – Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research €127.7K

2008    PI, KWF Student Fellowship Dutch Cancer Foundation                                      €1200

2008     PI, Trajectum Scholarship University of Utrecht, the Netherlands                     €260    



2017 Junior PI                                                                                                         

2013     ESMI award for excellent PhD thesis 2013,                                                      €500

2013     CGDB PhD student award [Best article(s) published in the previous year], €250    

2013     AACR invasion and metastasis conference, scholar-in-training-award,             $1000



Leiden University Medical Center
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Room R-02-003

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Tel: 71 5269268

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The Netherlands