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J. (Julie) Nonnekens, PhD

Principal Investigator

Assistant 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 Medical Biotechnology at Wageningen University, The Netherlands in 2009. She
obtained her PhD in cancer biology with the focus on DNA repair mechanisms at the University of Toulouse, France in 2013. Julie
is now Assistant Professor at the Department of Molecular Genetics and Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine. Her
group is studying DNA damage repair mechanisms to better understand the underlying radiobiology of molecular radionuclide
therapy (MRT) in order to ultimately optimize anti-cancer treatment regimens. Julie has received several (young investigator)
awards and is principal investigator on various research grants and commercial collaborations. She is secretary of the
Netherlands Society of Radiobiology, chair of the European working group for radiobiology of molecular radionuclide therapy and
scientific committee member of the Dutch Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology.

Field(s) of expertise


Patients with metastasized cancers can be treated with molecular radionuclide therapies (MRT) during which radiolabeled compounds are targeted to the cancers. Once bound to the tumor cells, the radionuclides will induce DNA damage leading to cancer cell death during radioactive decay. Currently, more cancer patients are being treated with MRTs 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. The focus of our research is on the understanding of the radiobiology, i.e. of the biological effects of ionizing radiation of MRTs, with a specific focus on DNA damage response mechanisms. By using this knowledge, we can significantly contribute to increasing the effectiveness of MRTs by providing evidence in favor of one treatment method or regimen over another.

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 MRTs. 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:

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) for neuroendocrine tumors. Researchers on this topic: Stefan Roobol, Danny Feijtel, Giulia Tamborino, Thom Reuvers, Nicole Verkaik.
  • Radioligand therapy (RLT) for prostate cancer. Researchers on this topic: Eline Ruigrok, Nicole van Vliet.

Education and career

2003-2009 MSc Medical Biotechnology Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands
2009-2013 PhD University of Toulouse Paul Sabatier III, Toulouse, France


Teaching activities

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

Scholarships, grants, and awards

2020-2024 Erasmus MC - Fellowship (PI)

2019-2023 KWF Dutch Cancer Society - Young Investigator Grant (PI)

2017-2020 Daniel den Hoed Foundation - Fellowship (PI)
2017-2020 Medical Research Council UK - Research grant (co-investigator)
2017-2020 Investigator initiated commercial project (PI)
2017-2019 Erasmus University Rotterdam - Fellowship (PI)
2012-2013 Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale France - Fellowship (PI)