Jacques Neefjes - Biography#

The Neefjes lab has made many seminal contributions to the understanding of the cell biology of MHC class I and II antigen presentation. In addition, already in the 1990s, chemical biology approaches were developed to generate inhibitors for the peptide transporter TAP and internally quenched compounds to measure peptidase activities in living cells. The Neefjes lab pioneered the application of green fluorescent protein (GFP) for intracellular tracking of molecules and vesicles and developed these to identify the mechanism of selective motor-driven transport of late endosomes. While studying MHC class I and MHC class II molecules, the Neefjes lab identified the first enzyme involved in multi-vesicular body formation (PI3kinase, now vps34), the biology and rearrangements within this compartment, the peptide transporter activity and specificity, DRiPs, peptidases and many more processes for a detailed understanding of antigen presentation by MHC molecules. In many cases, Neefjes managed to solve these issues by integrating chemistry, genetic screens, cell biology, biophysics and immunology, thereby establishing a line of productive interdisciplinary research. His contributions to these various disciplines is illustrated by invited seminars at seminal meetings in the fields of oncology, cell biology, infectious diseases and immunology. He has published over 220 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has an H-index of 65 with close to 15.000 citations. Under his supervision, 28 PhD students have received their doctoral degree (7 cum laude). Nine former group members head research groups at Dutch, Swiss, Swedish or English universities. Neefjes has been visiting professor at Oslo University (2009 and 2010), member and chairman of the scientific board of the Dutch Cancer Society KWF as well as of the Dutch Children Oncology KIKA, Deputy Director of the NKI (2007-2011), is an elected EMBO member and an elected member of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences and is/has been member of various national and international scientific advisory boards and councils. He received various awards including an NWO Pioneer (1996), an ERC Advanced Grant (2010) and the Gold Medal of the Royal Dutch Chemical Society (KNCV).

Professional experience
  • 1991 Post-doctoral research with prof dr HL Ploegh, Division of Cellular Biochemistry, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
  • 1991-1992 Visiting scientist at the laboratory of Drs C Benoit and D Mathis at the Institut de Chimie Biologique, Strasbourg
  • 1992-1993 EMBO long-term fellowship. Laboratory of prof dr G Hämmerling at the Deutsche Krebs Forschungs Zentrum (DKFZ), Heidelberg
  • 1993-1997 Staff member, Division of Cellular Biochemistry, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
  • 1998 - 2008 Head Division of Tumor Biology, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
  • 1999 - Extraordinary professor at the LUMC chair of “Antigen Presentation and Processing”
  • 2000-2003 Dean Graduate School Oncology Amsterdam (OOA)
  • 2007 - Deputy Scientific Director, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
  • 2009 - Head Division of Cell Biology II, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
  • 2009 - 2011 Visiting professor at the Centre for Immune Regulation of the University of Oslo, Norway
  • 2009 - Ombudsman for Sanquin Amsterdam

Neefjes is an extraordinary multidisciplinary scientist and active in many fields related to chemical biology and immunology:
  • Cell Biology: identified MHC class I and MHC class II cell biology, dynein motor control of vesicles, PI3kinase in MVB biogeneses
  • Immunology: Mechanisms of control of MHC class I and MHC class II expression, bacterial control phagosomes
  • Chemical Biology: developed reciprocal chemical genetics to find host targets controlling bacterial infections and lead structures
  • Cancer: utilizing biophysics showed conformational changes estrogen receptor and deciphered new resistance mechanism
  • Biophysics: Neefjes developed various technologies to measure FRET and FRAP for single cell biochemistry.
  • Chemistry: Neefjes applies chemistry in cell biology. Generated first inhibitors for TAP and for host factor antibiotics.
  • Molecular Medicine: Neefjes applied cell biology and next generation sequencing to find new modes of actions of anticancer drug
  • Systems Biology: Neefjes has performed integrated screens to generate new biology that was experimentally validated.
  • High throughput screenings: Neefjes performed various genetic and chemical screens to successfully find new targets and leads.
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