About our department
What is the overall aim?
We aim to unravel physiological mechanisms involved in development and progression of pulmonary diseases. This knowledge allows us to continuously improve existing treatment and develop novel treatments for diseases that are currently incurable.
What are the focus areas of your research?
(examples) The research of the department of pulmonary medicine is organized in 8 research lines (see groups): pulmonary oncology, molecular immunology, interstitial lung diseases and sarcoidosis, immunoregulation and mucosal immunology, respiratory epidemiology, pulmonary hypertension, lung transplantation and pulmonary infectious diseases. Our clinical research is supported by our own research bureau.
- Prof. dr. Joachim Aerts – head of the department
- Associate prof. dr. Marlies Wijsenbeek – deputy head of the department
- Prof. dr. Anne-Marie Dingemans
- Prof. dr. Rudi Hendriks
- Prof. dr. Bart Lambrecht
- Prof. dr. Guy Brusselle
- Dr. Ralph Stadhouders
- Dr. Mirjam Kool
- Dr. Menno van der Eerden
- Dr. Karin Boomars
- Dr. Marleen Bakker Rogier Hoek
- Dr. Heleen Vroman
- Dr. Odilia Corneth
- Dr. Merel Hellemons
- Dr. Marthe Paats
- Dr. Daphne Dumoulin
- Dr. Robin Cornelissen
- Dr. Alex Kleinjan
Dendritic cell immunotherapy for malignant mesothelioma (asbestos cancer)
The department of pulmonary medicine of the Erasmus Medical Center has pioneered in the field of cancer immunotherapy by developing dendritic-cell (DC) immunotherapy for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Nearly two decades ago, experiments in pre-clinical mouse models of mesothelioma showed induction of anti-tumor immune responses and regression of tumors. This pre-clinical work has led to the registration of two patents. During the last years, several phase I clinical trials have been completed showing similar effects, demonstrating true bench to bedside medicine. Due to the successful phase I studies and the intense collaboration with patients, we were able to secure the prestigious EU funding for a phase II/III international randomized study on our DC immunotherapy. This ATMP is currently studied for other forms of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer.
eHealth in interstitial lung diseases
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic, progressive disease with a poor prognosis. The quality of life (QoL) of patients is often impaired. In 2014 in collaboration with patients we started with the development of an eHealth tool for patients with IPF (IPF Online), consisting of home spirometry, online completion of patient-reported outcomes, an information library, graphical overview of results and possibility of eConsultations and video consultations. This initiative raised awareness on an international level and substantial support from industry partners was obtained to internationally implement and further investigate the possibilities of the tool, for research as well as care and a patient-led international registry. The eHealth tool is currently being translated in other languages and is already being used in Germany. Further, we were asked to publish results of our pilot studies in Research Outreach and Open Access Government (>100,000 subscribers), which will facilitate international awareness and implementation.
Yap TA, Aerts JG, Popat S, Fennell DA. Novel insights into mesothelioma biology and implications for therapy. Nat Rev Cancer. 2017 Jul 25;17(8):475-488. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2017.42
Stadhouders R, Filion GJ, Graf T. Transcription factors and 3D genome conformation in cell-fate decisions. Nature 569:345-354
Computational flow cytometry: helping to make sense of high-dimensional immunology data. Saeys Y, Van Gassen S., & Lambrecht BN. (2016). Nature Rev Immunol. , 16(7), 449–462
Loth DW, Artigas MS, Gharib SA, et al. Genome-wide association analysis identifies six new loci associated with forced vital capacity. Nat Genet 2014;46:669-77
Flaherty KR, Fell CD, Huggins JT, Nunes H, Sussman R, Valenzuela C, Petzinger U, Stauffer JL, Gilberg F, Bengus M, Wijsenbeek M. Safety of nintedanib added to pirfenidone treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Eur Respir J. 2018 Aug 2;52(2)
Broos CE, Koth LL, van Nimwegen M, In 't Veen JCCM, Paulissen SMJ, van Hamburg JP, Annema JT, Heller-Baan R, Kleinjan A, Hoogsteden HC, Wijsenbeek MS, Hendriks RW, van den Blink B, Kool M (2018). Increased T-helper 17.1 cells in sarcoidosis mediastinal lymph nodes. Eur Respir J. 51(3)
Uzun S, Djamin RS, Kluytmans JA, Mulder PG, van't Veer NE, Ermens AA, Pelle AJ, Hoogsteden HC, Aerts JG, van der Eerden MM. Azithromycin maintenance treatment in patients with frequent exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COLUMBUS): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Respir Med. 2014 May;2(5):361-8
We are chairing the comprehensive cancer network (CCN) on pulmonary cancers of the south-west of the Netherlands and the regional network on interstitial lung diseases. The department is actively involved in the Dutch Society for Pulmonology and Tuberculosis (NVALT); the current president is one of our staff members, and multiple staff members are members of NVALT working groups, both on care-related and research topics. We are collaborating with a wide variety of Dutch (university) hospitals in many clinical trials and research consortia, of which multiple are coordinated by us.
The department is actively involved, and represented in 5 core networks of the European Reference Network on Rare Respiratory Diseases (ERN-LUNG). We have long lasting collaborations with multiple internationally renowned centers, both European and world wide, such as UZ Antwerp (Belgium), CHRU Lille (France), University of Leicester (UK), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, USA), Stanford (USA) for research collaboration, multiple grant applications and other initiatives.
Within Erasmus MC, we have close collaborations with many departments, such as Generation R (prof. dr. Guy Brusselle, partial affiliate at our department), internal oncology, haematology, public health and pathology. We are involved in the ACEs thoracic oncology, immunotherapy, interstitial lung diseases and sarcoidosis and pulmonary hypertension. https://ace.adasco.nl/#
There is a strong collaboration with the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB, Ghent, Belgium); prof. dr. Bart Lambrecht is the director of VIB, and also holds an appointment at our department.
We have a multitude of national and international collaborations with field leading centers on our research focus topics.