• Cord Blood Derived Cell Therapies

  • Rare Diseases

  • Immune-Reconstitution

  • Pharmaco-Kinetics  

  • Pharmaco-Dynamics 






  • Pediatrician – Oncologist / Immunologist. Medicine (UMC Utrecht 1996)
  • PhD in Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam/Academic Medical Center; 1999)
  • trained as a paediatrician in Leiden (Leiden UMC)/Den Haag; Juliana Children’s Hospital; 2004) completion of clinical fellowship in immunology (2006; UMC Utrecht) and oncology (2011; ErasmusMC, Rotterdam)
  • clinical sub-specialization is Hemapoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT)
  • currently working as a consultant in HCT at the UMC Utrecht since 2006.

I have a special interest in rare-diseases (as indication for HCT) in particular “lysosomal storage diseases” and finding strategies to get better disease control (in malignant diseases). My research group (Group Boelens / Nierkens: U-DANCE) focuses on the development of cord blood derived dendritic cell vaccines (anti-AML, anti-Neuroblastoma). In addition there is a special interest designing a predictable low toxic conditioning regimen using PK/PD-models for e.g. ATG (anti-thymocyte globuline) to better predict the immune-reconstitution (nessasary for optimal effect vaccines). 4 PostDocs, 5 PhD students and 3 technicians are working in my group.

I am a frequently invited speaker on international conferences and have over 100 peer-reviewed publications and I am (co-)PI on various phase I/II with ATMPs. 

Current External Activities

  • Co-Chair Working Committee Benign Disorders (PID, bone marrow failure syndromes, hemoglobinopathies and metabolic diseases) CIBMTR.
  • Board of a recently formed “Westhafen Intercontinental group” aiming to integrate/homogenize the EU and USA transplant and cell therapy practices and trying to come beyond phase I/II studies involving ATMPs (advanced therapy medicinal products).
  • Advisory Board / Consultancy GSK: Genetherapy in Metabolic diseases
  • Advisory Board Genetherapy Trial (Telethon): X-CGD (X-Linked Chronic Granulomatous Disease)
  • Associate Editor Cytotherapy (Journal of ISCT: International Society of Cell Therapy)

Personal Fellowships & Awards

  • ZonMW TAS (as PI): Development of a cord blood stem cell-derived anti-AML dendritic cell vaccine: Towards powerful "anti-AML immunity" after cord blood transplantation (2014 -2018): 1.7M Euro
  • ZonMW Priority Medicine Children: Towards Individualized ATG dosing (2012-2016): 0.5M Euro
  • Various KIKA grants: Cumm. 2M, Villa Joep/Stichting AMMODO: 0.5M, various smaller grants (including Harmanus Ehrhart)
  • Current active funding: 4.5M Euro

Scientific Publications

Key publications last 2 years (total > 100 peer reviewed papers):

 Active Clinical Trials (PI or co-PI):

  • HOVON 112: Treatment of severe acute GVHD after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation with steroids versus MSC and steroids. A prospective randomized phase III trial (co-PI)
  • A phase II study to assess the safety of reduced toxicity conditioning and to investigate the biological mechanism of stem cell transplantation with mesenchymal stromal cell infusion in severe generalized recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa; 2014 – (PI)
  • PARACHUTE trial: Prospective Analysis of an Individualized dosing Regiment of ATG (Thymoglobuline) in Children Undergoing HCT: Reducing Toxicity and Improving Efficacy – a single arm Phase II study 2015- (PI)
  • Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation of NiCord®, Umbilical Cord Blood-derived Ex Vivo Expanded Stem and Progenitor Cells, in Adolescent and Adult Patients with Hematological Malignancies; 2015 – (2015)
  • ‘A Prospective and Partially Retrospective Study to Characterize Safety and Efficacy of Allogeneic Hematopoletic Stem Ceil Transplantation for the Treatment of Childhood Cerebral Adrenoleukodystrophy ’(NL51 193.000.14) 2) 



ENG Concept Anti-AML Tumor vaccination (cord blood derived)


NED Concept Tumor Vaccinatie

Jaap Jan Boelens & Stefan Nierkens

Post Docs

  • Niek van Til (genetherapy and gene editing)
  • Colin de Haar (DC vaccine, project manager GMP production)
  • Maud Plantinga (DC vaccine, optimizing antigen presentation)
  • Charlotte van Kesteren (PK/PD modeling)

PhD Students:

  • Coco de Koning (Immune-Reconstitution)
  • Lotte Spel (Neuroblastoma and cell therapy)
  • Rick Admiraal (PK/PD)
  • Celina Szanto (Neuroblaastoma and Immune system)
  • Jurgen Langenhorst (Fludarabine Pharmakinetics)
  • Vania lo Presti


  • Ester Dünnebach
  • Denise van den Beemt