Simone GJ van Breda PhD
event_seat Assistant Professor

Genetic and nutritional toxicology

phone +31-43-3882127
account_balance UNS50 F4.112

Simone van Breda studied Environmental Health Sciences at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Maastricht University, where she graduated in 2000. In 2004, she received her PhD at Maastricht University, after 4 years of investigating the effects of vegetables on gene expression changes in the colon and lung at the Department of Health Risk Analyses and Toxicology.

After she finished her PhD, she received a fellowship “Talent for the Future” from the Faculty of Health Sciences, to work as a postdoctoral fellow for a period of ten months. During this appointment, she has worked at the Human Nutrition Research Centre at the lab of Prof.dr. John C. Mathers, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Next, she was appointed as a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Health Risk Analyses and Toxicology of Maastricht University within an EU Network of Excellence on Environmental Carcinogenesis, Nutrition and Individual Susceptibility (ECNIS) to perform high throughput analysis of genetic polymorphisms relevant to the etiology of cancer within the framework of the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer (NLCS). Subsequently, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow supported by the EU 6th Framework Integrated Project Newborns and Genotoxic exposure risks (NewGeneris); by the Transnational University Limburg (Tul); and, by the EU 7th Framework Program Project Detection of Endpoints and Biomarkers of Repeated Dose Toxicity using in vitro systems (DETECTIVE). Within the NewGeneris project, she was involved in the assessment of quantitative estimates of intake of mothers, fathers, fetuses and newborns of several genotoxic and non-genotoxic compounds using food frequency questionnaires, and direct analytical data (biomarkers). Within the Tul-project entitled ‘Identification of phytochemicals involved in the chemopreventive capacity of blueberry juice; a genomics approach’, she investigated the health promoting properties of blueberries by means of a human dietary intervention study and in vitro studies using whole genome microarray assays and several biomarker assays. Within the DETECTIVE project, a screening pipeline was set-up of high content, high throughput epigenomics technologies to identify and investigate human biomarkers in cellular models for repeated dose in vitro testing for the replacement of animal tests.

In 2011, she was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the department of Toxicogenomics. Her main research activities are within the DETECTIVE project where she is responsible for subproject 3 ‘-omics’ analyses, in particular epigenomics analyses comprising whole genome DNA methylation, whole genome histone acetylation, and miRNA analyses. In line with this, she is currently setting up a DNA sequencing assay (Medip-SEQ) for whole genome analyses of DNA methylation changes in primary human hepatocytes.

Main research interests:

  • Gene expression regulation by epigenetic mechanisms;
  • Molecular mechanisms in colorectal and liver cancer, particularly related to dietary habits and environmental exposures
  • Chemopreventive action of fruits and vegetables in general, and of phytochemicals in particular;
  • Role of individual susceptibility in cancer risk assessment

Since December 2008, Simone is registered as a toxicologist by the Netherlands Society of Toxicology and by the Federation of European Toxicologists & European Societies of Toxicology (Eurotox). She is a member of the Netherlands Society of Toxicology. In addition to DETECTIVE, she is involved in the EU funded project PHYTOME.


She performs various teaching activities at Maastricht University, at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML), within the studies Biomedical Sciences, Biological Health Sciences, Molecular Health Sciences, General Health Sciences, and European Public Health; i.e. supervision of problem-based learning groups, development and conduction of lectures, development of (practical) trainings, and supervision of (practical) trainings. Furthermore, she is a member of several module planning groups (BGZ2002 De Continuïteit van het Leven; BGZ2004 Food for Life; PGZ2004 Disease Prevention and Health Protection; EPH2009 Food, Novel Food, Food Safety; BMW3001 Diseased Cells), and she is involved in setting-up new modules within the curriculum changes of FHML. She has supervised several interns during their internships at different stages of the Bachelor and Master program.

Associated Projects

EU FP7 - Detective finalized

Detection of endpoints and biomarkers of repeated dose toxicity using in vitro systems More »

EU FP7 - PHYTOME finalized

Phytochemicals to reduce nitrite in meat products More »

MeDIP seq finalized

Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation Sequencing More »