Prof. dr. S.M. van Ham

Main activities
Research, Teaching
Biological Immunology. Responsible for full immunology curriculum bachelor+master biomed. sciences
Focus of research
Our current research program focusses on the cell biological processes that control antigen presentation by B cells and the following B- CD4 T cell interactions that regulate antibody production.

Key publications
  • de Wit J, Souwer Y, van Beelen AJ, de Groot R, Muller FJM, Klaasse Bos H, Jorritsma T, Kapsenberg ML, de Jong EC, van Ham SM, CD5 costimulation induces stable Th17 development by promoting IL-23R expression and sustained STAT3 activation. BLOOD 2011;118 (23):6107-6114 [PubMed]
  • Souwer Y, Griekspoor A, Jorritsma T, de Wit J, Janssen H, Neefjes J, van Ham SM, B Cell Receptor-Mediated Internalization of Salmonella: A Novel Pathway for Autonomous B Cell Activation and Antibody Production. J IMMUNOL 2009;182 (12):7473-7481 [PubMed]
  • Souwer Y, de Wit J, Muller FJM, Bos HK, Jorritsma T, Kapsenberg ML, de Jong EC, van Ham SM, Response Priming of human naive CD4(+) T cells via CD5 costimulation requires IL-6 for optimal Th17 development. BLOOD 2012;119 (20):4812-4813
  • van Ham SM, Heutinck KM, Jorritsma T, Bemelman FJ, Strik MCM, Vos W, Muris JJF, Florquin S, ten Berge IJM, Rowshani AT, Urinary granzyme A mRNA is a biomarker to diagnose subclinical and acute cellular rejection in kidney transplant recipients. KIDNEY INT 2010;78 (10):1033-1040 [PubMed]
  • Souwer Y, Chamuleau MED, van de Loosdrecht AA, Tolosa E, Jorritsma T, Muris JJF, Dinnissen-van Poppel MJ, Snel SN, van de Corput L, Ossenkoppele GJ, Meijer CJLM, Neefjes JJ, van Ham SM, Detection of aberrant transcription of major histocompatibility complex class II antigen presentation genes in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia identifies HLA-DOA mRNA as a prognostic factor for survival. BRIT J HAEMATOL 2009;145 (3):334-343 [PubMed]
All Publications
Research programmes

Regulation of antigen-specific B cell responses

IgG secreting B cells are essential for immunity against pathogens, but also lead to pathology when formed against self antigens or allo-determinants upon blood transfusion. We investigate how the three signals for IgG B cell differentiation (BCR signalling, CD40 costimulation and T cell-derived cytokines) regulate antigen-specific IgG formation. We have studied MHC II antigen presentation in health and disease for many years. We were the first to demonstrate that recognition of particulate antigen or bacteria by the BCR leads to phagocytosis and optimised T cell-mediated IgG formation.

Regulation of antigen presentation in B cells. We investigate which BCR-signalling cascades mediate phagocytosis and processing of particulate antigen. We make use of infection models, but also study non-infectious antigens, like allo-antigens in erythrocytes. This cell biological part of our program combines ImageStreamX analyses, FACS and CLSM with novel genome-editing techniques and pharmacological compound screens.

Antigen-specific B-T interactions and antibody production. Follicular T helper (Tfh) cells are crucial for B cell help, among others via secretion of IL-21. Knowledge of factors that control human Tfh development is limited. Our recent experiments showed that human antigen-specific B cells strongly drive Tfh priming and reactivation, in contrast to DCs that induce Th1 polarization. B cells thus seem to direct CD4 T cell differentiation towards optimal help for antibody responses. B cell-depleting therapies demonstrated that B cells also regulate CD4 T cell responses in general through unknown mechanisms. We identified two pathways via which B cells regulate CD4 effector T cell formation and control the balance between central and effector memory CD4 T cell formation. We are currently unraveling these regulatory pathways in detail. This fundamental program is combined with translational research on regulation of B cell differentiation and antibody formation to the therapeutic antibody adalimumab in well defined longitudinal cohorts of adalimumab-treated patients or tetanus toxoid responses in cohorts of hyperimmunisation donors.

Prof. dr. S.M. van Ham (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation and Swammerdam Institute of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Amsterdam)
Dr. A. ten Brinke (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)
Dr. T. Rispens (Sanquin)
Dr. D. Wouters (Sanquin)
Prof. dr. S.S. Zeerleder MD PhD (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)

Dr. K. Bloem (Sanquin)
Dr. R.M. Spaapen
Dr. A. Turksma

PhD Students
S.D. van Asten
S.M. Oskam
K.A.J. van Schie
T. Verkerk
A.A. de Waard
Drs. L.C. Berkhout (Sanquin)
Drs. F.S. van de Bovenkamp MSc (Sanquin)
Drs. W. Falkenburg MD (Sanquin)
Drs. S.T.H.M. Kolanowski (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)
Drs. I. Kustiawan (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)
Drs. L.C. Lighaam (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)
Drs. A. Saris
Drs. P.P.A. Unger (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)
Drs. N.J.M.C. Verstegen
Drs. A. Zaal (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)

Ing. M. Aalbers (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)
Ing. T. Jorritsma (Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation)

Other research related activities
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Advisory Committee Strategic Vaccine Research (SVR)
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, University of Amsterdam, Board Member Center for Immunology Amsterdam (CIA)
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, Dutch Society for Immunology/Anton de Kom University, Paramaribo, Suriname, Secretary, Suriname Committee of Dutch Society for Immunology
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, EU (European Union Committee), Workgroupleader COST Network A FACTT; Action to Focus and Accelerate Cell-based Tolerance-inducing Therapies