Rogier Sanders

Experimental vaccinology

The Sanders’ group designs and studies new vaccines and antibodies against viruses including HIV, Lassa virus, influenza virus, hepatitis C virus and SARS-CoV-2.

A particular focus is the stabilization of otherwise instable viral glycoproteins for vaccines. For example, the Sanders’ group invented and developed a method to stabilize HIV-1 envelope proteins for vaccines by adding well-positioned disulfide bonds and proline residues to preserve the pre-fusion conformation. The proline stabilization method has later been applied to most COVID-19 vaccines.

Research team

Head of the team

Rogier W. Sanders, PhD Professor of virology, specializing in experimental vaccinology

Rogier Sanders (1975) studied Medical Biology at the University of Amsterdam and the Rockefeller University in New York. In 2004 he obtained his Ph.D. (cum laude) from the University of Amsterdam. Rogier currently is a Professor of Virology, specializing in Experimental Vaccinology and holds an affiliate faculty position at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City.

Team members
  • Yoann Aldon, PhD; postdoctoral researcher designing new germline-targeting HIV-1 vaccine candidates
  • Tugba Atabey; PhD-student studying antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus
  • Tim Beaumont, PhD; senior scientist identifying new antibodies against coronaviruses
  • Tom Bijl; research technician specializing in protein expression and characterization for HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2
  • Ilja Bontjer; research technician studying a variety of aspects of HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2
  • Joey Bouhuijs; research technician assisting with research on germline-targeting
  • Marielle van Breemen; research technician supporting protein production and characterization
  • Mitch Brinkkemper: PhD-student studying nanoparticle-based vaccine candidates for HIV-1 and coronaviruses
  • Judith Burger; research technician specializing in neutralization assays for HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2
  • Tom Caniels; PhD-student studying antibodies after vaccination with germline-targeting HIV-1 vaccines
  • Joan Capella Pujol: PhD-student working on germline-targeting vaccines for hepatitis C virus
  • Ivan Del Moral-Sanchez; PhD-student designing novel HIV-1 vaccine candidates for genetic immunization
  • Ronald Derking, PhD; postdoctoral researcher studying HIV-1 envelope glycosylation
  • Denise Guerra; PhD-student identifying potent neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2
  • Sylvie Koekkoek; Research technician focusing on hepatitis C virus, specializing in, cloning, sequencing techniques, neutralization assays
  • Ronald van Leersum; support staff for human clinical studies with HIV-1 vaccines
  • Marius Liesdek; MD; study physician with phase 1 clinical studies with HIV-1 vaccines.
  • Melissa Oomen; research technician specializing in neutralization assays for HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2
  • Meli Poniman; research technician specializing in neutralization assays for HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2
  • Emma Reiss, MD; PhD-student performing phase 1 clinical studies with HIV-1 vaccines
  • Anna Schorcht; PhD-student studying HIV-1 immunogens derived from the Amsterdam Cohort
  • Kwinten Sliepen, PhD; postdoctoral researcher designing new vaccine candidates for hepatitis C virus
  • Jonne Snitselaar; research technician specializing in antibody isolation, cloning and characterization
  • Karlijn van der Straten, MD; PhD-student performing phase 1 clinical studies with HIV-1 vaccines
  1. In 2011 Rogier received the Dutch prize for biochemistry and molecular biology. He has published more than 150 scientific articles, including in magazines such as Nature, Science and Cell. Rogier has received grants from, among others, NWO, EU, NIH and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Rogier is on the 2017-2019 Web of Science lists of most cited researchers (
  2. Ronald Derking, PhD is a 2021 Norman L. Letvin Early Career Investigator of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Collaborative for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD). He presented his work during the (virtual) 9th Norman L. Letvin Early Career Investigator meeting on March 23rd, 2021.
  3. Rogier Sanders and John Moore published a mini-review about how the proline stabilization discovered and applied in HIV-1 SOSIP trimers, was applied to vaccines against other viruses and including in most COVID-19 vaccines. (Cell Host Microbe 2021 Mar 10;29(3):327-333. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.02.002)
  4. A study lead by Philip Brouwer and Mitch Brinkkemper on a novel SARS-CoV-2 nanoparticle vaccine candidate was published in the journal Cell. Cell. 2021 Mar 4;184(5):1188-1200.e19. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.01.035
Publications Contact

Dr. Rogier W. Sanders



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