Jelle de Wit (1983) is head of the department Immune mechanisms – Correlates of protection (IMC) within the Center for Immunology of Infectious diseases and Vaccines (IIV). Within the department IMC, we aim to gain insight in the immune mechanisms that protect us against human pathogens. The research is focused on characterizing cellular immune responses in detail, both the innate arm (Elena Pinelli), as well as the adaptive arm (Cecile van Els, Patricia Kaaijk and Josine van Beek). In various research projects we aim to obtain biomarkers or immune profiles that correlate to protection against disease.  

Jelle de Wit is an expert in cellular immunology, in particular in T-cell responses upon viral infection or vaccination. His research aims to understand the mechanism behind the induction of sustainable and long-term immunity.

Understanding the mechanism that effectively triggers optimal and long-term immunity is essential for optimizing vaccine strategies, to protect everyone, from young to old

Research projects

  1. Induction and maintenance of long-term memory of T cells after vaccination or viral infection. What factors and mechanisms drive long-term memory of T-cell? Can we modulate immune response to obtain long-lived memory T cells?
  2. SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses after infection or vaccination. What are the frequencies and phenotype of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells after infection? Does vaccination induces similar profile of memory T cells? And how long are they maintained?


Jelle de Wit graduated as a biomedical scientist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He obtained his PhD at Sanquin Blood Supply/University of Amsterdam on the topic of B-T cell crosstalk upon Salmonella infection. After a post-doc on T-cell immunology in autoimmune disease at the University of Oxford, he joined the RIVM in 2015 to study T cell responses in various viral infections. In depth analyses of T cell immunology, and cross-talk with other immune cells has always been his key interest. Since 2021, he has become head of the department IMC. Jelle de Wit also participates in the Dutch consortium “Target-to-B” since 2018, and takes part in overarching analyses of several Dutch COVID-19 studies funded by ZonMW.

Team members

  • Verónica Olivo Pimentel (post-doc)
  • René Raeven (post-doc)
  • Nening Nanlohy (research assistant)
  • Lisa Beckers (lab-coordinator clinical studies)
  • Emma van Wijlen (research assistant)
  • Petra Molenaar (research assistant)
  • Madelène Paets (research assistant)

Co-promotor of

  • Sara van den Berg (graduated 2021)
  • Michiel Kroes (graduated 2022)

Key publications

Children and adults with mild COVID-19: dynamics of the memory T cell response up to 10 months.  Kaaijk, P., Olivo Pimentel, V., Emmelot, M.E., Poelen, M.C.M., Çevirgel, A., Schepp, R.M.,  den Hartog, G., Reukers, D.F., Beckers,  L., van Beek, J.,  van Els, C.A.C.M., Meijer, A.,  Rots, N., de Wit, J. Front. Immunol. (2022) 

Novel mumps virus epitopes reveal robust cytotoxic T cell responses after natural infection but not after vaccination. Kaaijk, P., Emmelot, M.E., Meiring, H.D., van Els, C.A.C.M., de Wit, J. Sci Rep 11, 13664 (2021). 

Latent CMV Infection Is Associated With Lower Influenza Virus-Specific Memory T-Cell Frequencies, but Not With an Impaired T-Cell Response to Acute Influenza Virus Infection. van den Berg, S.P.H., Lanfermeijer, J., Jacobi, R.H.J., Hendriks, M., Vos, M., van Schuijlenburg, R., Nanlohy, N.M., Borghans, J.A.M., van Beek, J., van Baarle, D., de Wit, J. Front. Immunol. (2021).

Full publication list