Cellular Immunology: emphasis on dendritic cell subsets, macrophages, cross-presentation,  T cell activation and innovation in vaccinology

Focus of research

Joke den Haan is Associate Professor at the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology at Amsterdam UMC. She graduated cum laude with a PhD from the University of Leiden in 1997, specializing in the biochemical identification of human minor histocompatibility antigens. She pursued her research as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle, in Prof. Dr. Mike J. Bevan's lab from 1998 to 2003, focusing on antigen presentation by dendritic cell subsets. In 2004, she commenced her tenure at the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, supported by a NWO-VIDI grant. Since 2014, den Haan has been an associate professor and currently oversees a research group comprising two PhD students, 3 post-docs and two technicians. The research group of den Haan investigates the role of macrophages and dendritic cells in the activation of adaptive immune responses, as well as pioneering the development of novel cancer vaccine strategies.

Function of CD169-expressing Macrophages and Dendritic Cells

Den Haan's research provides pivotal insights into the role of CD169+ macrophages located in lymphoid organs. Her work elucidates their essential functions in antigen capture,  transfer to dendritic cells and activation of T cell responses.  Her team discovered that CD169-expressing Axl+ dendritic cell subset and CD169-expressing monocytes in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) can take up vaccines and stimulate T cell repsonses, significantly advancing the understanding of immune mechanisms in both healthy and oncological contexts.

Development of Cancer Nanovaccines

A core aspect of den Haan's research involves the development of nanovaccines targeting cancer antigens to CD169+ macrophages and dendritic cells. These vaccines, employing CD169-specific antibodies and liposomes carrying CD169 ligands, are at the cutting edge of enhancing immune responses against cancer. Her lab's ongoing research is centered on optimizing adjuvant and antigen selection, along with the development of nanobodies targeting human CD169.


  • Associate Professor at the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology at Amsterdam UMC
  • Chair AII grant committee
  • Member CCA grant committee
  • Member of KWF exploration grant committee
  • Member NVVI program committee
  • Member board UPC
  • Organization of immunology courses and teaching Immunology to bachelor and master students Biomedical Sciences and Gezondheidswetenschappen.
  • Organization of ‘Advanced Immunology’ course for PhD students