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Pulmonary Medicine

The department of Pulmonary Medicine performs fundamental, translational and clinical research to improve treatment and to develop new treatment strategies for patients with pulmonary diseases.

About our department

Our research

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.

Principal Investigators

  • 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

Research Lines

Notable results

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 have our own fully equipped research laboratory, with facilities for e.g. for cell culture, FACS analyses, biochemical assays, (immuno)histology, DNA & RNA isolation, PCR, standard wet lab, cryopreservation. With a private donation, we have recently purchased a CliniMACs Prodigy Instrument. Our dedicated team of technicians is operating 2 clean rooms, in collaboration with haematology, for the production of the Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Product (ATMP) MesoPher which was developed from bench to bedside by our department over the last decade.


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. 


We regularly have job openings for research nurses, research assistants (e.g. as a side job for medical students) and occasionally for PhD positions (physician researchers and biomedical researchers).

News, events and awards

Our news

Awards and grants


  • Prof. dr. Joachim Aerts:
    - ZonMW Parel award 2018, for his research on dendritic cell immunotherapy for mesothelioma
    - CZ award for development of logistic path in treatment of lung cancer 2014
    - Van Herk PhD track award winner 2017
    - International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMIG) best abstract award 2016
  • Prof. dr. Bart Lambrecht:
    - European Respiratory Society Gold Medal in Asthma 2017
    - Francqui prize 2014 (Belgian award for extraordinary scientists; considered the ‘Belgian Nobel prize’)
    - Dutch Society for Pharmacology Ariëns award 2013
  • Dr. Marlies Wijsenbeek:
    - Dutch Pulmonology Society Public award 2016
    - Dutch Pulmonology Society Patient participation award 2018
  • Dr. Mirjam Kool: Dutch Pulmonology Society Dirkje Postma Talent Award 2018
  • Dr. Lieke Kamphuis:
    - Best Clinical Paper from the SNM Young professionals Committee, SNM San Antonio 2011
    - Best oral presentation at the Dutch Internal Medicine Days 2011

Personal research grants

  • Prof. Dr. Bart Lambrecht: Role of protein crystallization in type 2 immunity and asthma ERC Advanced grant 2018
  • Dr. Ralph Stadhouders:
    - Erasmus MC Fellowship 2018
    - Ralph Stadhouders: VENI Fellowship grant 2017
    - Ralph Stadhouders: EU Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship 2015
    - Ralph Stadhouders: RUBICON Fellowship grant 2015
  • Prof. Dr. Rudi Hendriks:

2011 Erasmus MC MRace Project “Exacerbation of asthma upon respiratory tract infection: are innate lymphoid cells involved?
2012 Lung foundation Netherlands Project “Innate lymphoid cells: identification of their role in allergic asthma and exacerbations upon respiratory tract infection” (NAF
2012 Lung foundation Netherlands Project “Notch signaling in the initiation of T helper-2 inflammation in allergic asthma, a new therapeutic entity” (NAF
2013 Dutch Arthritis Association Project “Btk signaling in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid diseases”(DAA 13-2-068)
2014 KWF Project “BCR signaling as an oncogenic driver: identification of molecular mechanisms in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia” (EMCR 2014-6465)
2018 Mrace Grant - Unraveling systemic autoimmunity: a critical role for naïve B cells?
2019 Dutch Arthritis Association Project “‘B-cell receptor and Toll-like receptor signalling in the germinal centre: a delicate balance guarding self-tolerance’ (2019-1-673854)

  • Dr. Mirjam Kool: Dekkerbeurs Hartstichting Award 2017


Collaborative research grants (Erasmus MC as coordinator)

  • Dendritic cell based immunotherapy to treat malignant mesothelioma H2020-PHC-2015-two-stage grant by the European Unions’ Horizon 2020 research framework programme, consortium with 8 European partners, coordinated by prof. dr. Joachim Aerts, €5,782,965
  • Towards Targeting the ORigin of the inflammatory Cascade in allergic Asthma (TORCA): Cross-talk between airway epithelium and immune cells, Dutch Pulmonology Society 2018, prof. dr. Rudi Hendriks
  • Technology assessment of next generation sequencing in personalized oncology (TANGO), prof. dr. Joachim Aerts co-PI, 2016

Collaborative research grants (Erasmus MC as co-investigators) PPP Immune System off Balance Consortium -Target to B! Towards patient-tailored immunotherapy to effectively treat B-cell associated disease
Rudi Hendriks, Odilia Corneth (project leader: Taco Kuijpers, AMC Amsterdam)

Innovation grants

  • Towards dendritic cell immunotherapy as maintenance treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer, TKI Health Holland, prof. dr. Joachim Aerts 2016
  • Improving immunotherapy in solid tumors, TKI Health Holland, prof. dr. Joachim Aerts 2019