Carl Figdor

Carl Figdor is senior professor of Immunology. Next to the Radboud Unioversity Medical Center, he is also affiliated to the Oncode Institute ( )  and to the Institute of Chemical Immunology (ICI).P


Main research interests are at the interface of  both immunology, cell biology and chemistry, with a specific focus on the molecular mechanisms controlling immune cells, in particular dendritic cells.

Current Interests focus on:

  1. Better understanding of the interactions between Immune cells within the tumor microenvironment, exploiting multispectral imaging techniques. Main focus is on finding new biomarkers that may predict benefit of immunotherapy.
  2. Development of novel cancer vaccines based on PLGA based nanoparticles that contain antigen and DC activating adjuvants. Current efforts are aimed at translating this PLGA based nano-medicine platform towards the clinic.
  3. Development of an entirely ‘synthetic DC’ to directly activate T cells for use in tumor immunology. Within the the Institute for Chemical Immunology (ICI), we exploit various types of scaffolds to manipulate immune the immune system. At the same time these scaffolds are used as a tool to increase our knowledge of DC-T cell communication and to better understand the tumor microenvironment

Short CV

Carl Figdor obtained his Masters degree in 1979 from the University of Utrecht and his PhD degree in 1982 from the University of Amsterdam working at the Netherlands cancer Institute, where he got tenured in 1985 and started his own research group on tumor immunology. In 1992 Carl Figdor became professor in Cell Biophysics at the University of Twente, and in 1994 he moved to the UMC st Radboud to start a new department on Tumor Immunology as a professor in Immunology. Here he initiated a large translational program exploiting the immune system to fight cancer. From  2001 – 2010 he served as the first scientific director of the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS), in which also his department is located. Since 2018 he is also group leader within the Oncode Institute. Until 2019 he was head of the department of Tumor Immunology.

Professor Figdor received several prizes and honors. including the Van Loghem Award (1999), Eijkman Medal (2000), Spinoza prize (2006), Dutch Cancer Foundation research award (2009), two ERC Advanced Grants (2011 and 2019), a NWO Gravity Grant (2013), EU0Horizon 2020 grant (2016), and the TEFAF Oncology chair (2016). He is a member of the Academia Europea and the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences. He became a Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion in 2012.

Societal activities

I am convinced we should inspire children’s curiosity at young age, and stimulate inquiry based science education (IBSE). As a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) I initiated science education hubs at all Dutch universities. The aim is to introduce and professionalize science and technology teaching programs at primary school level (primarily 8 to 12 years’ olds). We have now developed extensive programs and published several books to train school teachers based on scientific breakthroughs from within our university ( ).

Break through discoveries:

  • Discovery that T cell surface receptors CD2 and CD3 differently regulate the activity of the integrin cell adhesion receptor LFA-1 (Nature 1989)
  • Identification of the C-type lectin DC-SIGN expressed by dendritic cells as a receptor for HIV and adhesion receptor ICAM-3 (Cell 2000)
  • The finding that antigen uptake receptor function of dendritic cells is regulated by clustering in microdomains (J Cell Biol 2004, Nature Comm 2013)
  • Development of novel nanomedicines modulating the immune system. During the past decade we demonstrated how dendritic cells or T cells can be targeted by biodegradable nanoparticles, or more recently even synthetic dendritic cells (ERCadv grants, NWO  gravity grant).

Recent Key Publications

Vasaturo A, Halilovic A, Bol KF, Verweij DI, Blokx WA, Punt CJ, Groenen PJ, van Krieken JH, Textor J, de Vries IJ, Figdor CG. T-cell Landscape in a Primary Melanoma Predicts the Survival of Patients with Metastatic Disease after Their Treatment with Dendritic Cell Vaccines. Cancer Res. 2016 Jun 15;76(12): 3496-506

Buschow SI, Ramazzotti M, Reinieren-Beeren IMJ, Heinzerling LM, Westdorp H, Stefanini I, Beltrame L, Hato SV, Ellebaek E, Gross S, Nguyen VA, Weinlich G, Ragoussis J, Baban D, Schuler-Thurner B, Svane IM, Romani N, Austyn JM, De Vries IJM, Schuler G, Cavalieri D, Figdor CG. Survival of metastatic melanoma patients after dendritic cell vaccination correlates with expression of leukocyte phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein 1/Raf Kinase inhibitory protein. Oncotarget. 2017.

Cruz, L.J., Tacken, P.J., Fokkink, R., Joosten, B., Stuart, M.C., Albericio, F., Torensma, R., Figdor, C.G. Targeted PLGA nano- but not microparticles specifically deliver antigen to human dendritic cells via DC-SIGN in vitro. J Control Release, 2010. 144(2):118-26.

Cruz, LJ, Tacken, PJ, Fokkink, R, Figdor, CG. The influence of PEG chain length and targeting moiety on antibody-mediated delivery of nanoparticle vaccines to human dendritic cells. Biomaterials, 2011. 32(28): p. 6791-803.

Tacken PJ, Zeelenberg IS, Cruz LJ, van Hout-Kuijer MA, van de Glind G, Fokkink RG, Lambeck AJ, Figdor CG. Targeted delivery of TLR ligands to human and mouse dendritic cells strongly enhances adjuvanticity. Blood, 2011. 118(26): 6836-44

Mandal S, Eksteen-Akeroyd ZH, Jacobs MJ, Hammink R, Koepf M, Lambeck AJA, van Hest JCM, Wilson CJ, Blank K, Figdor CG*, Rowan AE. Therapeutic nanoworms: towards novel synthetic dendritic cells for immunotherapy. Chemical Science, 2013. 4(11): 4168-74 .

Weiden, J, Tel, Figdor, CG. Synthetic immune niches for cancer immunotherapy. Nature Reviews Immunology, Nat Rev Immunol. 2018 Mar;18(3):212-219. doi: 10.1038/nri.2017.89.

The tumour microenvironment shapes dendritic cell plasticity in a human organotypic melanoma culture. Di Blasio S, van Wigcheren GF, Becker A, van Duffelen A, Gorris M, Verrijp K, Stefanini I, Bakker GJ, Bloemendal M, Halilovic A, Vasaturo A, Bakdash G, Hato SV, de Wilt JHW, Schalkwijk J, de Vries IJM, Textor JC, van den Bogaard EH, Tazzari M, Figdor CG.Nat Commun. 2020 Jun 2;11(1):2749. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16583-0.PMID: 32488012 

Synthetic Semiflexible and Bioactive Brushes. Voerman D, Schluck M, Weiden J, Joosten B, Eggermont LJ, van den Eijnde T, Ignacio B, Cambi A, Figdor CG, Kouwer PHJ, Verdoes M, Hammink R, Rowan AE.Biomacromolecules. 2019 Jul 8;20(7):2587-2597. doi: 10.1021/acs.biomac.9b00385.

Cross-talk between iNKT cells and CD8 T cells in the spleen requires the IL-4/CCL17 axis for the generation of short-lived effector cells. Valente M, Dölen Y, van Dinther E, Vimeux L, Fallet M, Feuillet V, Figdor CG.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Dec 17;116(51):25816-25827. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1913491116. Epub 2019 Dec 3.