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Principal Investigator

J. (Julie) Nonnekens, PhD

Principal Investigator

Associate Professor and Principal Investigator of Radiobiology of Radionuclide Therapy

  • Department
  • Radiology & Nuclear Medicines, Molecular Genetics
  • Focus area
  • Molecular Imaging & Therapy




Dr. Julie Nonnekens received her MSc in Biotechnology at Wageningen University in 2009. She obtained her PhD in cancer biology with the focus on DNA repair mechanisms at the University of Toulouse (France) in 2013. Following, she was a postdoc at the Hubrecht Institute working on ribosome biogenesis in cancer and longevity. In 2014 Julie joined the Erasmus MC with a joint appointment as postdoc and is now Assistant Professor at the Department of Molecular Genetics and Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine.


"The research of her group bridges the interests of both departments in the field of DNA damage repair mechanisms and nuclear medicine to study the radiation biology of targeted radionuclide anticancer treatment in order to ultimately optimize treatment regimens."

Julie has received several (young investigator) awards and is principal investigator on various research grants including the prestigious ERC starting grant. She is board member (secretary) of the Netherlands Society of Radiobiology and co-founder of the European working group on Radiobiology of Molecular Radionuclide Therapy.


Field(s) of expertise


Targeted radionuclide therapies (TRT) are revolutionizing treatment of patients with metastasized cancers. During TRT, radiolabeled compounds are targeted to the cancer cells via specific tumor binding (e.g. via receptors). Once bound to the tumor cells, the radionuclides will induce DNA damage leading to cancer cell death. Currently, more cancer patients are being treated with TRT than ever before. However, it is clear that some patients are being over-treated (resulting in toxicity) or under-treated (no tumor regression). This indicates the clinical need for therapy improvement.

"A better understanding of the radiobiology, i.e. of the biological effects of ionizing radiation of TRTs, could contribute to increasing their effectiveness by providing evidence in favor of one treatment method or regimen over another. With better radiobiological understanding, TRT success could be enhanced and might even progress from mostly palliative towards curative."
In order to answer our research questions, we are using a variety of models and tools. From 2D cultured cells and ex vivo cultured human tumor slices to xenografted mice. This broad range of models allows us to study different aspects of TRTs. We use several cellular assays, immunohistochemistry of human tumor tissue or mouse organs, confocal live-cell microscopy and small animal imaging (SPECT, MRI, optical).


Our focus areas are:

  • Cellular effects of TRT in tumor and healthy tissues
  • Radiobiology of different radiation qualities
  • Radiosensitization to improve radionuclide therapy outcome

Education and career


 MSc Medical Biotechnology Wageningen University, Wageningen,

The Netherlands


 PhD University of Toulouse Paul Sabatier III, Toulouse,





Selected publications


All publications:

Click here


Teaching activities

  • MSc Infection and Immunity,
  • MSc Molecular Medicine,
  • BSc Nanobiology,
  • BSc Medicine,
  • BSc Radiotherapy,
  • Medical residents
  • Radiotherapy


Scholarships, grants, and awards




BMW Nonnekens logo



  • 2022-2027 
 European Research Council starting grant (PI) 
  •  2022-2024
 Investigator initiated industry project (PI)
  •  2022-2023
 Investigator initiated industry project (PI)
  •  2021-2024 
 Oncode – clinical proof of concept (co-PI)
  •  2021 
 Convergence – Open mind project (PI)
  •  2020-2024
 Erasmus MC - Fellowship (PI)
  •  2020-2022 
 KWF Dutch Cancer Society – Research project (co-PI)
  •  2019-2023
 KWF Dutch Cancer Society - Young Investigator Grant (PI)
  •  2017-2021
 KWF Dutch Cancer Society – Research project (co-PI)
  •  2017-2020
 Medical Research Council UK - Research grant (co-investigator)
  •  2017-2020
 Investigator initiated industry project (PI)
  •  2017-2019
 Erasmus University Rotterdam - Fellowship (PI)
  •  2012-2013 
 Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale France - Fellowship (PI)

My Groups

Lab Nonnekens

The radiobiology of radionuclide therapy group (November 2022). From left to right Joke Zink, Hanna Vermeer (back), Pleun Engbers (front), Nina Becx, Thom Reuvers, Julie Nonnekens, Justine Perrin, Mariangela Sabatella, Tijmen de Wolf, Giulia Tamborino.