Heike Grabsch

Prof. Dr. Heike Grabsch MBA, PGCertHealthRes, MD, PhD, FRCPath


Short description

Heike Grabsch is a consultant histopathologist specialised in gastrointestinal pathology who joined the MUMC+ pathology team in 2014. Her translational research activities focus mainly on biomarker identification in cancers of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract (oesophageal cancer, gastric cancer, colorectal cancer). She is affiliated with GROW and also employed by the University of Leeds. Since 2022, Heike is no longer participating in routine diagnostic work in Maastricht to have more time for research including supervision of several undergraduate students, PhD students and histopathology trainees in Leeds (UK), Maastricht, Giessen (Germany) and Linz (Austria). Her research work and diagnostic work has resulted in many peer reviewed publications in journals with high impact factor as well as several book chapters including one in the most recent WHO classification of digestive diseases. Heike is regularly invited as speaker, chair or member of the scientific committee at national and international conferences. She has established a large network of collaborators locally, nationally and internationally.

Focus areas

Gastrointestinal pathology, translational research in gastrointestinal cancer




Email: h.grabsch@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Telephone: +31 43 387 24 36


Heike studied medicine in Hamburg and Cologne (Germany) and qualified in December 1990. She started her academic career in the Department of Anatomy, University of Cologne, where she obtained her first higher research degree (MD) in October 1996. She started her training in histopathology at the Klinikum Leverkusen (Teaching Hospital of the University of Cologne) in 1996 and continued the training in the Department of Pathology, University of Duesseldorf (Germany). In December 2000, she moved to Leeds (UK) to combine her training as histopathologist with 50% research activities. She became a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, London, by exam in January 2006 and registered as a speciality doctor with the General Medical council directly afterwards.

Work experience

Since qualifying as pathologist in the UK (January 2006), Heike specialised in gastrointestinal histopathology reporting resection specimens, biopsies, participating in specialists’ multidisciplinary meetings. Related to her academic achievements including a PhD (University of Leeds), she was awarded a personal chair by the University of Leeds (UK) in 2014 before she moved to Maastricht where she started in the department of pathology in July 2014. Her inauguration as extraordinary professor for gastrointestinal cancer pathology at Maastricht University was in July 2016 which was celebrated with a one-day symposium attended by many her collaborators from the Netherlands, Europe, UK and Asia.  Since 2022, Heike has an honorary/visiting professorship status at Maastricht University, still holds her professorship in Leeds and works as locum in diagnostic gastrointestinal pathology for Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK.   

With a strong interest in translational research, Heike has been an active member of many trial committees in the UK and Europe which allowed her to collect relevant material and data from patients with oesophageal or gastric cancer for research. Her research has been funded by Cancer Research UK and other funding agencies in the UK. She has recently also included studies using AI in her portfolio and obtained funding from the Dutch Hanarth Fonds for this. 

She has been a member of multiple national and international scientific committees organising meetings in several different parts of this world. She has been on the editorial board of Gastric Cancer since 2008 and has been active in reviewing manuscripts for several journals. She co-chairs the Grant Committee of the Translational Cancer Research Programme of the French Institut National du Cancer since 2020.

Other achievements

Lidmaatschappen en functies:

  • International Gastric Cancer Association (Council member)
  • International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus
  • Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
  • International Academy of Pathology, British Division
  • Association of Clinical Pathologists, UK
  • British Association of Cancer Research
  • British Society of Gastroenterologists
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, London
  • UK NCRI Oesophagogastric cancer subgroup
  • EORTC Gastric Cancer Task Force
  • Chair of the Translational Research Task Force of the EORTC GI Tract Cancer Group
  • Lid van de Dutch Upper GI Cancer Group

Zij is betrokken in talrijke nationale en internationale Clinical Trials op het gebied van oncologische gastrointestinale pathologie:

  • Principal investigator of translational studies in OE02, OE05, ST03
  • Reference histopathologist in ongoing trials: OE05, ST03, ASPECT, NeoSCOPE
  • Lid van de SCOPE1 Trial Management Group
  • Lid van de REAL3 Trial Steering Committee
  • Co-investigator and member of the ST03 Trial Management Group
  • Co-investigator and member of the OE05 Trial Management Group
  • Co-investigator and member of the NeoScope Trial Management Group
  • Lid van de ROMIO Trial Steering Committee
  • Co-investigator and member of the GO-2 Trial Management Group
  • Lid van de  EORTC Innovation trial Steering Comittee

Heike Grabsch is betrokken bij opstellen van richtlijnen:

  • UK Royal College of Pathologists Upper GI Cancer dataset


Lokale, nationale en internationale onderzoekscollaboraties:

  • Prof. Dr. Steven Olde Damink, MUMC+, Maastricht, Nederland
  • Dr. Silvia Sanduleanu, MUMC+, Maastricht, Nederland
  • Dr. Prapto Sastrowijoto, Zuyderland, Sittard, Nederland
  • Prof. Dr. Gerrit A Meijer, NKI, Amsterdam, Nederland
  • Prof.  Dr. Patrick Tan, National Cancer Centre of Singapore/Genome Institute Singapore, Singapore
  • Prof. Dr. Tomio Arai, Department of Pathology, Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
  • Prof. Dr. Takaki Yoshikawa, Department of GI Surgery, Kanagawa Cancer Centre, Yokohama, Japan
  • Prof. Dr. Florian Lordick, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Duitsland
  • Prof. Dr. Manuel Salto-Tellez, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, Verenigd Koninkrijk
  • Prof. Dr. Markus Moehler, University of Mainz, Mainz, Duitsland
  • Prof. Dr. Franco Roviello, Siena University, Siena, Italië

Lid van het Editorial Board

  • May 2006-May 2014, Cellular Oncology
  • Since May 2008, Gastric Cancer

Reviewer van de volgende journals

  • Journal of Pathology
  • International Journal of Cancer
  • Cellular Oncology
  • Cancer Letters
  • Diseases of the Esophagus
  • Oncogene
  • Histopathology
  • British Journal of Cancer
  • Gastric Cancer
  • Journal of Clinical Pathology
  • Acta Histochemica
  • Annals of Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
  • Virchow Archive

Grant funding (2002 - 2014)

  • January 2013: Yorkshire Cancer Research project grant. “Amplification frequency and prognostic value of key receptor tyrosine kinase signalling genes in oesophago-gastric cancer – working towards a biomarker driven, multi-targeted agents trial to improve clinical outcome” PI: Dr H Grabsch, £182,801 for 3 years
  • December 2012 Cancer Research UK CTAAC Additional funding for the OE05 tissue collection. £ 28,143.57.
  • August 2012 Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Foundation. Pilot project grant. Developing the toolkit for the OPTIMUM (Oesophagogastric cancer: assessment of Preoperative sTaging ImproveMents Using MRI) study. £ 23,671
  • May 2012 Cancer Research UK CTAAC Additional funding for the ST03 tissue collection. £ 61,262.98 for 2 years.
  • March 2012 Studies into Japanese gastro-oesophageal cancer (£2500) Sasakawa Foundation
  • July 2010 Japanese Collaborative Grant (£5000) Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
  • July 2009 Educational Fellowship Grant (£5000)
  • British Division International Academy of Pathology Dedicated for a 3 weeks visit at the National Cancer Institute in Tokyo and the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Medical Center, Japan
  • December 2007 Cancer Research UK TRICC Project Grant Title: Biological sample collection from patients entering the UK NCRI ST03 clinical trial.PI: H Grabsch; £ 157,890 for 4 years.
  • December 2007 Cancer Research UK TRICC Project Grant Title: Biological sample collection from patients entering the bUKCRN OE05 clinical trial.PI: H Grabsch; £ 173,663 for 4 years.
  • July 2007 Cancer Research UK TRICC Project Grant Title: Prognostic and predictive factors in a randomised controlled clinical trial of pre-operative chemotherapy in resectable oesophageal cancer (OEO2). PI: H Grabsch; £ 290,696 for 3 years.
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