Areas of expertise

Margreet Ausems graduated in medicine in 1989 (Utrecht University), and was trained as a clinical geneticist in the University Medical Center Utrecht. She obtained her specialist’s degree in 1995 and since then has been working as clinical geneticist in Utrecht with a focus on the oncogenetic patient care. She received her PhD in 1999 from the Utrecht University. She is head of the oncogenetics section of the Department of Genetics. Since 2013, she is associate professor. Her research has a focus on medical and psychosocial outcome of cancer genetic counseling in affected patients and their relatives, and on public health aspects of cancer genetic counseling (e.g. on how to improve the uptake). The research program fits in patient care and research that are embedded in two of three themes incorporated within the Cancer priority program (e.g. translational & clinical research and personalized cancer care) of the University Medical Center Utrecht.

In 2012 Ausems and her team were awarded the ‘Medisch Contact Communicatieprijs 2012’ for the development of a web-based education for counselees referred for breast cancer genetic counselling. She is a member of the steering committee of the HEBON (The Netherlands Collaborative Group on Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer) and of the Breast Cancer Tumor Working group of the IKNL (Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation). Since 2015 she is chair of the WKO, a national working group (of the Dutch Society of Clinical Genetics) on cancer genetics, and board member of the NABON (Nationaal Borstkanker Overleg Nederland). She participates in the development and revision of several national and international guidelines on hereditary cancer. In 2015 she was member of the Cancer Education Committee of the ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology).


Read also the story about the work of Margreet Ausems (in Dutch)


Research program / group

The Ausems group focuses on medical, psychosocial and communication aspects of cancer genetic counseling and aims to improve patient care for cancer patients and their relatives.

Ausems and her team contributed to the development and implementation of rapid genetic counseling and testing offered to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, before primary surgery. Nowadays this procedure has been integrated into usual breast cancer care.

The medical aspects of cancer genetic counseling and testing are being studied in several (multi-center) studies focusing on identifying individuals at increased risk to develop cancer and evaluating various targeted screening modalities. The group has evaluated referral patterns and characteristics of counselees in cancer genetic counseling and showed that counselees are frequently highly educated, and often play a major role in their referral. Migrant patients and those who are lower educated are less frequently referred and therefore underrepresented at the oncogenetic outpatient clinics. The group is currently setting up a large intervention study among breast cancer surgeons and specialized nurses to increase the referrals of patients with low health literacy and/or a migrant background. Also, a project among GPs has been initiated aiming to evaluate the feasibility of an active approach and referral of ovarian cancer patients by their GP.

Finally, the group is involved in a study on cancer patients’ intentions, needs, and preferences towards receiving unsolicited genetic information obtained by Next Generation Sequencing.


Group members

  • Margreet Ausems - PI
  • Marjolijn Jongmans - MD, post-doc
  • Els van Riel - post-doc
  • Liesbeth van Vliet - post-doc
  • Mary Velthuizen - research coordinator

Key publications

  • Baars JE, van Dulmen AM, Velthuizen ME, Theunissen EBM, Vrouenraets BC, Kimmings AN, van Dalen T, van Ooijen B, Witkamp AJ, van der Aa MA, Ausems MGEM. Migrant breast cancer patients and their participation in genetic counseling: results from a registry-based study. Familial Cancer 2016, DOI 10.1007/s10689-016-9871-y
  • MR Wevers, MGEM Ausems, S Verhoef, EMA Bleiker, DEE Hahn,  T Brouwer, FBL Hogervorst, RB van der Luijt, T van Dalen, EB Theunissen, B van Ooijen, MA de Roos, PJ Borgstein, BC Vrouenraets, E Vriens, WH Bouma, H Rijna, JP Vente, JM Kieffer, HB Valdimarsdottir, EJTh Rutgers, AJ Witkamp, NK Aaronson. Does rapid genetic counseling and testing in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients cause additional psychosocial distress? Results from a randomized clinical trial. Genetics in Medicine 23 April 2015. doi:10.1038/gim.2015.50
  • MR Wevers, NK Aaronson, S Verhoef, EMA Bleiker, DEE Hahn, MA Kuenen, J van der Sanden-Melis, T Brouwer, FBL Hogervorst, RB van der Luijt, HB Valdimarsdottir,  T van Dalen, EBM Theunissen, B van Ooijen, MA de Roos, PJ Borgstein,BC Vrouenraets, E Vriens, WH Bouma, H Rijna, JP Vente, AJ Witkamp, EJTh Rutgers, MGEM Ausems. Impact of rapid genetic counselling and testing on the decision to undergo immediate or delayed prophylactic mastectomy in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients: Findings from a randomized controlled trial. Br J Cancer, 2014 Feb 18;110(4):1081-7
  • A Albada, S van Dulmen, P Spreeuwenberg, MGEM Ausems. Follow-up effects of a tailored pre-counseling website with question prompt sheet in breast cancer genetic counseling. Patient Educ Couns 2015; 98: 69-76
  • E van Riel, S van Dulmen, MGEM Ausems.  Who is being referred to cancer genetic counseling? Characteristics of counselees and their referral. J Community Genetics 2012; 3 :265-741/cge.12335


Link to full list of publications

More contact information

Visiting address:
UMCU/WKZ, room KC04.080.1
Lundlaan 6
3584 EA Utrecht
The Netherlands

+31 (0)88 75 53810

Detailed CV