prof. dr. S.H.M. Rooijakkers

prof. dr. S.H.M. Rooijakkers

Full Professor
prof. dr. S.H.M. Rooijakkers
  • Department of Medical Microbiology

Research Programs

Infection & Immunity



The goal of the research of Suzan Rooijakkers is to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial killing by the human immune system. In particular, she investigates the molecular functioning of the complement system, a large protein network in plasma that plays an essential role in the immune response against all invading bacteria. Complement rapidly labels bacteria for phagocytosis by immune cells and directly kills Gram-negative bacteria via pore formation (Membrane Attack Complex (MAC)). Although the MAC is an evolutionary conserved mechanism to kill bacterial cells, we currently do not understand how complement activation results in bacterial killing. In 2015, she obtained the prestigious ERC Starting grant that is aimed at providing insight into these bacterial killing mechanisms. She has recently established novel methods to study complement activation in highly purified model systems allowing us to provide insight into MAC-dependent killing of bacteria.

Other projects in the lab involve unravelling processes underlying complement-mediated phagocytosis. Complement is essential in immune eradication of Gram-positive bacteria. She aims to elucidate the molecular details of complement opsonin-receptor interactions . The work will pave the way for several therapeutic applications, including targeted complement-dependent bacterial killing and antibody therapy of clinically important bacteria. Furthermore, her studies will create new avenues for blocking the undesired complement activation during systemic bacterial infections and sepsis.

Side Activities

1. 2021 (once)    External grant reviewer Wallenberg foundation, Karolinska Institute, Sweden. No compensation.

2. 2019-now    Board member Executive Board Netherlands Antibiotic Development Platform (NADP). Compensation in favor of research group at UMCU.

3. 2018-NOW   TTW-NACTAR Programme committee  (no compensation)

4. Organizer of the 2nd and 3rd international conference on antibodies and complement. May 2019 and June 2023. Girona, Spain.  (travel and registration costs of PI were compensated (<2000 euro per meeting)

5. Committee member of NWO-ZonMw Veni program (2019, once). Compensation in favor of research group at UMCU.

6. Panel member of the excecutive committe of the 'Complement UK research network', a collaborative organization that joints over 40 PIs (representing 29 UK Centers). My role as a panel member was to recruit PhD students for open positions (May 2016)  Compensation in favor of research group at UMCU.

Fellowship and Awards

Research Grants

2023       €1.500.000,- NWO-Vici grant

2020       €2.000.000,- personal ERC Consolidator grant from European Research Council

2019      co-applicant on a European Joint Doctorate grant

2019      €250.000,- NCOH-AMR Complex Systems grant

2018      €300.000,- NWO-TTW Industrial Doctorate grant

2018       €800.000,- NWO-TTW NACTAR        

2018       €200.000,- NWO-Aspasia grant

2018       Hub for Molecular Immunology, UU

2015     €1.500.000,- personal ERC Starting grant from European Research Council.

2013          Co-applicant on a €800.000,- Eurostars grant together with Pepscan Therapeutics and   Bicycle Therapeutics (#E7679, BAIT, Bicycle Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutics).

2011          €100.000,- Aspasia-grant from NWO.

 2010         €800.000,- personal VIDI-grant for Innovational Research Incentives from NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) (#917-11-379).

2008         European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) long term fellowship (#ALTF 382-2008).

2007          €200.000,- personal VENI-grant for Innovational Research Incentives from NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) (#916-76-037).


Contract research

2018-2021      €500.000,- Genmab-sponsored research grant  (no personal payment)

2015-2017      €300.000,- Genmab-sponsored research grant (no personal payment)

Research Output (78)

Promoting Fc-Fc interactions between anti-capsular antibodies provides strong immune protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Aguinagalde Salazar Leire, den Boer Maurits A, Castenmiller Suzanne M, Zwarthoff Seline A, de Haas Carla, Aerts Piet C, Beurskens Frank J, Schuurman Janine, Heck Albert J R, van Kessel Kok, Rooijakkers Suzan H M 22 Mar 2023, In: eLife. 12

Soluble Signal Inhibitory Receptor on Leukocytes-1 Is Released from Activated Neutrophils by Proteinase 3 Cleavage

von Richthofen Helen J., Westerlaken Geertje H.A., Gollnast Doron, Besteman Sjanna, Delemarre Eveline M., Rodenburg Karlijn, Moerer Petra, Stapels Daphne A.C., Andiappan Anand K., Rötzschke Olaf, Nierkens Stefan, Leavis Helen L., Bont Louis J., Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., Meyaard Linde 15 Feb 2023, In: Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 210 , p. 389-397 9 p.

Monitoring phage-induced lysis of gram-negatives in real time using a fluorescent DNA dye

Egido Julia E., Toner-Bartelds Catherine, Costa Ana Rita, Brouns Stan J.J., Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., Bardoel Bart W., Haas Pieter Jan 16 Jan 2023, In: Scientific Reports. 13

Purified complement C3b triggers phagocytosis and activation of human neutrophils via complement receptor 1

Boero Elena, Gorham Ronald D., Francis Emmet A., Brand Jonathan, Teng Lay Heng, Doorduijn Dennis J., Ruyken Maartje, Muts Remy M., Lehmann Christian, Verschoor Admar, van Kessel Kok P.M., Heinrich Volkmar, Rooijakkers Suzan H.M. 6 Jan 2023, In: Scientific Reports. 13

Genome-wide screen in human plasma identifies multifaceted complement evasion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Janet-Maitre Manon, Pont Stéphane, Masson Frerich M., Sleiman Serena, Trouillon Julian, Robert-Genthon Mylène, Gallet Benoît, Dumestre-Perard Chantal, Elsen Sylvie, Moriscot Christine, Bardoel Bart W., Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., Cretin François, Attrée Ina Jan 2023, In: PLoS pathogens. 19

Neonatal sepsis and transient immunodeficiency:Potential for novel immunoglobulin therapies?

Beudeker Coco R., Vijlbrief Daniel C., van Montfrans Joris M, Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., Flier Michiel van der 18 Oct 2022, In: Frontiers in Immunology. 13

Novel insights in antimicrobial and immunomodulatory mechanisms of action of PepBiotics CR-163 and CR-172

van Os Nico, Javed Ali, Broere Femke, van Dijk Albert, Balhuizen Melanie D., van Eijk Martin, Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., Bardoel Bart W., Heesterbeek Dani A.C., Haagsman Henk P., Veldhuizen Edwin Sep 2022, In: Journal of global antimicrobial resistance. 30 , p. 406-413 8 p.

Toward Understanding How Staphylococcal Protein A Inhibits IgG-Mediated Phagocytosis

Cruz Ana Rita, Bentlage Arthur E H, Blonk Robin, de Haas Carla J C, Aerts Piet C, Scheepmaker Lisette M, Bouwmeester Inge G, Lux Anja, van Strijp Jos A G, Nimmerjahn Falk, van Kessel Kok P M, Vidarsson Gestur, Rooijakkers Suzan H M 24 Aug 2022, In: Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 209 , p. 1146-1155 10 p.

Soluble MAC is primarily released from MAC-resistant bacteria that potently convert complement component C5

Doorduijn Dennis J., Lukassen Marie V., van 't Wout Marije F.L., Franc Vojtech, Ruyken Maartje, Bardoel Bart W., Heck Albert J.R., Rooijakkers Suzan H.M. 10 Aug 2022, In: eLife. 2022 , p. 1-22

Correction:Polymerization of C9 enhances bacterial cell envelope damage and killing by membrane attack complex pores

Doorduijn Dennis J., Heesterbeek Dani A.C., Ruyken Maartje, de Haas Carla J.C., Stapels Daphne A.C., Aerts Piet C., Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., Bardoel Bart W. 8 Aug 2022, In: PLoS pathogens. 18 , p. 1-8

All research output

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