Khalil Helou


Department of
+46 31-41 32 90
Visiting address
Medicinaregatan 1G
41390 Göteborg
Postal address
Cancercentrum Box 425
405 30 Göteborg

About Khalil Helou

Khalil Helou received PhD in Molecular Genetics at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden in 2000. After a postdoc period at the NIH / NCI Bethesda in the United States, I was appointed a position in 2003 as group leader responsible for breast cancer research at the Department of Oncology at Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gothenburg. As a researcher, I gained extensive experience about how to manage a research team and supervise undergraduate and PhD students. I am currently supervising two PhD students, one postdoc and co-supervising six PhD students, and I was the main supervisor for six PhD students and co-supervisor for eight PhD students, resulting in six and eight doctoral dissertations, respectively. My role as supervisor could be summarized by: (1) coaching the students and not leading them, (2) introducing them to the area of research, (3) introducing them to other researchers, clinicians, etc., (4) developing competence, (5) selecting relevant PhD courses and conferences and (6) applying for research grants, etc. In addition to holding several lectures for PhD courses, I was the course coordinator and lecturer for three PhD courses. My publication list extends to about 100 scientific articles in international peer-reviewed journals. In addition to serving as a journal referee for several international peer-reviewed journals, I am the Associate Editor of the BMC Cancer journal and a committee member of the permanent PhD examining board at Sahlgrenska Academy. I was appointed since 2019 a position as director of PhD studies at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

Research area: Novel prognostic and predictive biomarkers for ovarian cancer treatment decisions: Translational research

Research environment: The research is conducted at Sahlgrenska Center for Cancer Research which is a biomedical research center consisting of several research groups, created by joint efforts of several institutes at Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, which have expanded and integrated their research activities on a common campus. In addition, we have access to animal facilities at the Laboratory for Experimental Biomedicine (EBM).The group comprises several researcher Khali Helou (genetist) Per Karlsson and Lars Ny (oncologists), Anikó Kovács (pathologist) Toshima Parris (molecular biologist), PhD students (Elisabeth Werner Rönnerman, Luaay Aziz, Peter Larsson, and Axel Tullberg), technical assistants (Emman Shubbar and Daniella Pettersson). Other contributing researchers gynecologist (Pernilla Dahm Kähler), oncologist (Zakaria Einbeigi), biostatistician (Szilard Nemes), Statistician (Erik Holmberg). Together with our collaborators, we have a broad knowledge and expertise in the clinic and lab.

Project: Ovarian cancer is the second most common and lethal gynecologic malignancy in the western world. After initial successful treatment, approximately 80% of all ovarian cancer patients develop recurrence within five years after initial diagnosis. Currently, there is no effective way of stratifying patients based on clinical outcome or benefit of adjuvant treatment after surgery. Therefore, many patients would profit from a complement to established prognostic markers. We hypothesize that for most patients, the genetic makeup of the primary tumor can predict aggressive tumor features that determine whether relapse may occur.

To test this hypothesis, we will analyze the genetic signatures of a cohort of ovarian carcinomas in order to identify potential novel biomarkers that can better classify ovarian tumors and predict aggressive tumor behavior. Our specific objectives are to: (1) identify cancer driver genes associated with ovarian cancer-specific survival and different OC histotypes, (2) determine whether altered protein levels of the candidate biomarkers are associated with ovarian cancer-specific survival and different ovarian cancer histotypes, and (3) define the tumorigenic and therapeutic potential of candidate biomarkers using patient-derived cancer cells and mouse models.

The proposed project will potentially improve the molecular classification of ovarian carcinomas representing different histotypes. Importantly, our work will shed light on the role of the identified biomarkers in tumor behavior and ultimately may provide valuable information to guide the decision-making process for ovarian cancer treatment.


Current PhD students under my supervision

  • Luaay Aziz, MD, MB ChB
  • Elisabeth Werner Rönnerman, MD

Current PhD students under my co-supervision

  • Arman Romiani
  • Malin Larsson
  • Charlotte Andersson
  • Jenny Nyqvist
  • Mikael Elvborn
  • Sofia Saadati
  • Peter Larsson
  • Axel Stenmark Tullberg

Former PhD students under my supervision

  • Elin Karlsson: Novel biomarkers predicting long-term survival in breast cancer, 2009
  • Szilárd Nemes: Integrative genomic and survival analysis of breast tumors 2012
  • Emman Shubbar: Analysis of Novel Biomarkers for Unfavorable Breast Cancer Prognosis 2012
  • Toshima Parris: High-risk breast cancer. From biology to personalized therapeutic strategies 2014
  • Jana Biermann: Tumour evolution and novel biomarkers in breast cancer 2019
  • Hanna Engqvist: Novel biomarkers associated with histotype and clinical outcome in early-stage ovarian carcinoma 2020

Former PhD students under my co-supervision

  • Anna Danielsson, PhD 2005
  • Tatjana Adamovic, PhD 2006
  • Ahmad Hamta, PhD 2006
  • Emil Schuler, PhD 2015
  • Nils Rudqvist, PhD 2015
  • Britta Langen, PhD 2015
  • Johan Spetz, PhD 2017
  • Viktor Sandbloms, PhD 2019

Former postdocs under my supervision

  • Irina Corin 2005
  • Anna Danielsson
  • Toshima Parris (2016-2017)

Involvment in scientific journals

  • Editorial board member of the BMC Cancer
  • Editorial board member at the Open Gene Therapy Journal


  • Eurostars (Vinnova): A novel targeted treatment against ovarian cancer
  • Swedish Cancer Society : Novel prognostic and predictive biomarkers for treatment decisions in breast and ovarian cancer
  • Jk Cancer Research Foundation : Novel prognostic and predictive biomarkers for treatment decisions in breast and ovarian cancer