Taco Klem

Taco Klem has been working as a trauma and breast surgeon at Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland for more than 10 years. All of his previous work shows that he is continuously working to improve health care through education and innovation. For example, he wrote his dissertation on cryosurgery, he is founder of several national training programs for nurses and physician assistants, and is also the medical leader of the integrated breast cancer care unit. To enable structural scientific research on breast cancer, he founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation Rotterdam (BOR Foundation) together with Gerson Struik in 2016. He supervised Gerson Struik during his PhD trajectory, and is now supervising Elles van de Voort.

Gerson Struik

Gerson Struik founded the BOR foundation together with Taco in 2016 to enable scientific research on breast cancer. By acquiring non-commercial grants, they made it possible to conduct independent research. During his PhD years, he researched amongst others, a new technique for radiotherapy of breast cancer after surgery, reducing the toxicity of radiotherapy, a new localization technique for tumors, and the use of silver bandages to reduce wound infections. This resulted in his dissertation in 2020, entitled, “Improving Treatment Accuracy and Reducing Side Effects of Breast Sparing Therapy.” In 2019, Gerson started his training to become a surgeon and is closely involved with supervising Elles during her PhD.

Elles van de Voort

Elles van de Voort took over from Gerson Struik in December 2018 as a PhD student within the Foundation. Like the vision of the foundation, the goal of her research is to reduce patient burden and make breast cancer care more patient-friendly. Her research focuses on the minimally invasive treatment of both pre-stage breast cancer and early stage breast cancer. These small tumors can often be treated without surgery. By targeting the tumor with a needle, it can be removed through small bites of tissue, or be destructed through very high or low temperatures. By using these techniques, surgery, and therefore anesthesia and hospitalization, are no longer necessary. This in turn is expected to reduce the burden of disease and improve the quality of life for the patient.

From left to right: Taco Klem, surgeon; Elles van de Voort, PhD student; Gerson Struik, medical doctor in training. Source: BOR Foundation.