Welcome to the Verdoes Lab website!
Our research team is part of the Department of Tumor Immunology of the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboudumc in Nijmegen and develops novel tools to restore and potentiate our immune system in the battle against cancer. For this purpose, we combine the fields of chemistry, molecular biology, genetics and immunology to deepen our understanding of the interplay between our immune system and cancer.
Cancer is a complex disease with multiple defence mechanisms which hamper effective functioning of our immune system. Therefore, our lab works on multiple lines of attack to defeat cancer. On one hand, we aid recognition and eradication of tumor cells by the design and development of targeted nanovaccines. On the other, we break down the defensive wall of the tumor with our own designed compounds which can target, visualize and kill immunosuppressive cells.
Together, these chemistry-based precision immunotherapy approaches can tip the balance from cancer tolerance to cancer immunity without adverse side effect.
Zach Wijfjes, MSc
Zach obtained his Master’s degree in Molecular Life Sciences with a specialization in Chemistry of Life at the Radboud University in October 2020. In his first Master’s internship, he focused on synthesizing a compound library of the natural methyltransferase inhibitor Tanshinone I to perform a structure activity relationship study. In his second Master’s internship, he worked on a targeted cathepsin probe to study endosomal pathways in dendritic cells. His interests in organic chemistry and immunology are now combined in his PhD, in which targeted delivery of various bioconjugates to dendritic cells are utilized to study endosomal pathways, and elicit specific antitumor immune responses.
Kayleigh Schouren, MSc
Maren Pfirrmann, MSc
Eric van Dinther, BSc
Felix Fennemann, MSc ResearcherID:O-2976-2016
Felix Fennemann obtained his Master Degree in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease from the Radboud University Nijmegen and Institute for Molecular Life Sciences in 2016. He discovered his passion for tumor immunology and immunotherapy throughout internships in Nijmegen on dendritic cells and dendritic cell vaccines. He wrote his masterthesis at the Cancer Center Karolinska in Stockholm about modulation of the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment as a novel anti-cancer therapy.
In his PhD, Felix is working at the intersection of immunology, genetics and chemistry and explores possibilities for the development of smart, personalized anti-cancer therapeutics.
Iris Hagemans, MSc
Iris obtained her BSc in Chemistry at Radboud University Nijmegen and her MSc degree in Chemistry at Leiden University in September 2015. Iris has always been part chemist, part biologist: she took a lot of Molecular Life Science courses in her bachelor’s degree, and in her master’s, she did one organic synthetic internship at the department of Medicinal Chemistry (Leiden University) and one cell biology internship at OncoRay in Dresden, an institute for Research in Radiation Oncology. The ultimate goal was always to combine chemistry and biology, since she believes that when the two come together, that’s where the magic happens.
In her PhD project she is able to combine these two expertises by working on a molecular toolbox for developing novel and improved checkpoint inhibitors. Checkpoint inhibitors block immunosuppressive signals generated by tumor cells. Breakthroughs in the field of these checkpoint inhibitors have even been called the scientific breakthrough of the year 2013. However, the systemic character of this type of therapy has a significant drawback: it elicits auto-immune reactions. The goal of the current project is to generate optimized molecular immune checkpoint-inhibitory approaches.
Jorieke Weiden, MSc Researcher ID: M-5843-2015
Jorieke Weiden obtained her Master Degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Radboud University Nijmegen in 2014. Intrigued by cancer and how it interacts with the immune system, she performed an internship on identification of a novel cytogenic subgroup in leukemia in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK and an internship on how neutrophils promote breast cancer dissemination at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. She joined the department of Tumor immunology for an internship on immunosuppressive pathways in dendritic cell subsets, after which she started her PhD research with Prof. Carl Figdor in 2014 working in the interdisciplinary fields of chemical immunology and immunoengineering. Jorieke is interested in exploiting biomaterial-based scaffolds as tools to locally boost the anti-cancer immune response, specifically dendritic cells and tumor-specific T cells. Jorieke's primary advisor is Prof. Carl Figdor.
Bas van der Schoot, MSc
Bas was the first to join the Verdoes Lab in 2014 after obtaining his master degree in Science and Business Management at the University of Utrecht. During his Master internships he gained valuable knowledge regarding vaccine design (Crucell) and antibody development (arGEN-X). Bas is interested In the development of novel tools to further advance the field of immunotherapeutics and is currently working on the development and targeting of nanovaccines for cancer immunotherapy. Bas his primary advisor is Prof. Carl Figdor.
Duco van Dalen, BSc
After an internship in the group of Huib Ovaa, department of Chemical Biology at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), Duco van Dalen obtained his BsC in organic chemistry at the University of Applied Sciences in Leiden in August 2012.
His life took another direction; he raised the charity ‘Longest Breath’, to create awareness about the dangers and effects of the misuse of asbestos. On March 31st 2013 he began a cycling journey of nine thousand kilometre, from China back to the Netherlands. This all in memory of his father, who died in 2011 as a result of mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos (for more information please visit: www.LongestBreath.com).
After two and a half years voluntary work for the charity, he picked up his chemistry career and started working in an analytical lab. But the Biochemistry side kept his interest and he rejoined in 2015 the research group of Huib Ovaa.
End 2016 Martijn Verdoes gave him the opportunity to work for him as technician in his research group. “This opportunity fitted exactly in my dream to live and work in a less busy and more greener environment. To be part of the newly formed research group lead by Martijn Verdoes and work together right at the frontline of the cancer research is highly motivating.” as quoted by Duco.
Olga Ilina, PhD
Olga received her PhD degree in the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences. During her PhD she studied how cancer cells invade within the tissue and spread to distant organs. By monitoring cell-cell and cell-stroma interactions using intravital multiphoton microscopy she studied how intracellular adhesion influences the ability of tumor cells to spread and how local tissue geometry modulates cell invasiveness. During her study Olga developed a strong interest in how host cells within the local microenvironment promote tumor growth and how tumor cells evade immune response. Fascinated by the possibility of targeted manipulation of specific immune cells to activate anti-tumor immune response, she joined Verdoes Lab in the Tumor Immunology Department. The goal of her current project is to use cathepsins activity-based probes to eliminate immunosuppressive tumor-associated macrophages.
Iván Ramos-Tomillero, PhD
Iván Ramos-Tomillero obtained his PhD (2016) in Organic chemistry at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB/UB), focused on the development of linkers for antibody conjugation. Afterwards he joined for a postdoctoral research at University of Barcelona (2016-2018) for the heat-to-lead optimization of peptide-based drugs. After a one year gap from research working as a scientist project lead for the process development and manufacturing of GMP peptides for clinical trials at ChemConnection, he joined Martijn Verdoes group in 2019 for a new research challenge. His research will be focus on the development of chemical tools like bioconjugates and inhibitors for immunology.
Eliézer Jäger, PhD (2017-2018)
Czech Academy of Sciences fellowship
Eliezer Jäger received his PhD in 2015 at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Charles University of Prague, Czech Republic. His PhD studies focused on the synthesis and characterization of biological environmentally responsive (pH, temperature and reactive oxygen species) and non-responsive polymer drug delivery systems (micellar, soluble polymers, NPs). In 2016 he obtained a postdoctoral grant from the Czech Academy of Sciences for starting researchers aiming at the development of multi-responsive dendritic cell-targeted nanovaccines, as well as, tumor “chemical-environment” responsive nanomedicines under supervision of Prof. Carl Figdor and Dr. Martijn Verdoes.
Liping Qiu, PhD (2016)
Hunan University · College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Alper Cevirgel (2018)
MMD master student
Liyan Smeding, BSc (2018)
MMD master student
Carl van Heck (2018)
BMW master student
Anouk Becker, BSc (2017)
MMD master student
Valerie Betting, BSc (2017)
MMD master student