Stefan Nierkens



  • Immune Monitoring
  • Tumor Immunology
  • Dendritic Cells
  • Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation




UMC Profile



Dr. Nierkens is Principal Investigator of the Boelens/Nierkens research group and is head of the Utrecht center for Diagnostic Advances in Immunology Research, U-DAIR.

He received his PhD from the Utrecht University and was trained as a tumor-immunologist at the Tumor Immunology Laboratory of the RIMLS (Nijmegen, The Netherlands) and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (La Jolla, CA). He has long-standing experience in studying the role of dendritic cells (DC) and DC-vaccines in various pre-clinical immunotherapy models. In 2012 Nierkens translated his work on DC vaccines together with Jaap Jan Boelens resulting in the U-DANCE-project, in which he develops (adjuvant) immuno-therapies to make cord blood cell transplantation safer and more effective.

From 2012 he is the head of U-DAIR, an intramural immune monitoring laboratory of the Laboratory of Translational Immunology (LTI-UMCU) facilitating translational research in 30+ clinically well-defined cohorts of patients suffering from inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. U-DAIR develops, optimizes and validates an immunomonitoring program to enable standardized cohort research and thereby identifies new biomarkers to diagnose immune-mediated disorders and explores potential treatment strategies. Nierkens was selected for a 36-month training program to become Laboratory Specialist in Medical Immunology.

Research Projects

  • Immune Monitoring
  • Dendritic cell vaccination after cord blood transplantation in AML
  • Immunotherapy for Neuroblastoma

Current External Activities

  • EATRIS Biomarker Platform member
  • CIMT Immunoguiding Program member
  • NVVI member


Koningin Maxima op bezoek bij Villa Joep

Stefan Nierkens - Villa Joep

Personal Fellowships & Awards

  • KWF fellowship for fundamental and pre-clinical cancer research, Dutch Cancer Society. 

  • 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): 1.4M Euro


Scientific Publications


(Immune Monitoring in):

  • Randomized phase 2 TRIAL comparing experimental Immunotherapy (anti-GD2 antibody, IL-2 S.C.,GM-CSF) in recurrent high risk neuroblastoma patients with standard immunotherapy (anti-GD2 antibody, IL-2 I.V., GM-CSF) in patients with recurrent and newly diagnosed high risk neuroblastoma; NB2013-HR PILOT GPOH/DCOG

  • 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

  • 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


  • ZonMW-TAS (€ 1.4M, 2014-2018). Development of a cord blood stem cell-derived anti-AML dendritic cell vaccine: Translation to GMP and Phase II clinical trial.

  • Stichting KiKa (€ 300k, 2014-2018). Towards powerful "anti-AML immunity" after cord blood transplantation

  • Villa Joep! (€ 220k, 2012-2015). Development of a pre-clinical dendritic cell vaccine for neuroblastoma.

  • Stichting Ammodo (€ 215k). Development of a cord-blood derived dendritic cell vaccine.

  • Personal KWF fellowship for fundamental and pre-clinical cancer research, Dutch Cancer Society (400k, 2007-2011).

  • 4-year funding (€396K 2007-2011). Additional bench-fee awarded KWF (€30.000, 2010).

Associated Team Members



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