Jørgen de Jonge (1975) is head of the department Immune mechanisms – Immunological Models (IIM) within the Center for Immunology of Infectious diseases and Vaccines (IIV) and an expert in viral immunology in preclinical models. 

Within the department IIM, we aim to gain insight in the immune mechanisms that protect us against respiratory viral infections. We utilize in vitro and animal models as well as clinical material to improve our understanding of the immune response to vaccinations and infections. We study factors that may influence the immune response, such as aging and circadian rhythm (Teun Guichelaar) and the microbiome (Susana Fuentes). We investigate virus-host interactions in the airways and antibody-mediated immunity beyond binding and neutralization (Puck van Kasteren) and broadly-reactive immunity to rapidly evolving viruses (Jørgen de Jonge). Our knowledge supports advise on optimizing vaccination strategies and implementation of new vaccines.

Jørgen’s research focuses on understanding immunity that protects us from fast evolving viruses like influenza and SARS-CoV-2. This immunity is directed against conserved epitopes and involves both cellular as humoral immune mechanisms. Utilization of animals models that adequately translate results to humans are key to understand immunity that protects us from infection or disease. 

I am intrigued by the race between rapidly evolving viruses and the complex immune system and how we can activate the latter to induce broad immunity to changing viruses or newly emerging variants


Current projects 

  1. Broadly-reactive and protective cellular immunity to influenza virus in preclinical models.  Which conserved viral proteins (or domains) are effective targets for T-cells. What are the requirements for phenotype and residence to provide durable protection against various influenza subtypes and what kind of vaccines are effective in inducing this type of immunity? What is the effect of previous influenza infections on the induction or boosting of broadly-reactive T-cells. How does imprinting with subunit vaccines of children affect broad immunity to influenza viruses?   
  2. SARS-CoV-2 animal models and T-cell responses after infection or vaccination. Is it possible to induce cellular responses that are cross-reactive to new emerging variants or even to corona viruses outside the beta coronavirus genus, considering the little homology between coronaviruses. Which conserved viral proteins (or domains) are then effective targets for T-cells. What type of vaccines are effective in inducing broadly-reactive and protective T-cells?


Jørgen de Jonge graduated as a biochemist at the University of Groningen. He obtained his PhD in 2007 at the faculty of Medical Sciences at the at the University Medical Centre of Groningen (UMCG) on viral vesicles (virosomes) as delivery vehicles for nucleic acids into cells. In 2006 he joined Solvay Pharmaceuticals as a preclinical scientist influenza vaccines and moved to the Netherlands Vaccine Institute (NVI) in 2008 where he started setting up the ferret model for influenza vaccine evaluation and performed viral safety risk assessments for vaccines. In this position, he took part in the WHO Global Action Plan (GAP) for influenza vaccines and several international consortia (FluSecure, IMECS, ITPIV, AMPVACS and FASTVAC) to perform preclinical studies in collaboration with several vaccine developing institutes. In 2011 the department became part of the RIVM and, while continuing vaccine evaluation studies in different consortia, his research started to focus more on immune mechanistic questions underlying broadly reactive immunity. Since 2021, he has become head of the department IIM.

Area of expertise

  • Viral immunology
  • Respiratory viruses (Influenza and SARS-CoV-2)  
  • Preclinical models

Team members

  • Caroline Melo de Boaz (post doc) 
  • Koen van de Ven (PhD)
  • Josien Lanfermeijer (PhD) 
  • Harry van Dijken (research assistant)
  • Stefanie Lenz (research assistant)
  • Floor Peters (research assistant)

Former team members

  • Sietske Rosendahl-Huber (PhD)
  • Femke de Heij (research assistant)
  • Sanne Spijkers (research assistant)
  • Justin Mouthaan (research assistant)

Key publications

Pathology and Immunity After SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Male Ferrets Is Affected by Age and Inoculation Route. van de Ven K, van Dijken H, Wijsman L, Gomersbach A, Schouten T, Kool J, Lenz S, Roholl P, Meijer A, van Kasteren PB, de Jonge J. Front Immunol. 2021 Oct 21;12:750229. 

Systemic and respiratory T-cells induced by seasonal H1N1 influenza protect against pandemic H2N2 in ferrets. van de Ven K, de Heij F, van Dijken H, Ferreira JA, de Jonge J. Commun Biol. 2020 Oct 9;3(1):564. 

H7N9 influenza split vaccine with SWE oil-in-water adjuvant greatly enhances cross-reactive humoral immunity and protection against severe pneumonia in ferrets. de Jonge J, van Dijken H, de Heij F, Spijkers S, Mouthaan J, de Jong R, Roholl P, Adami EA, Akamatsu MA, Ho PL, Brunner L, Collin N, Friede M, Ferreira JA, Luytjes W. NPJ Vaccines. 2020 May 11;5(1):38. 

Synthetic Long Peptide Influenza Vaccine Containing Conserved T and B Cell Epitopes Reduces Viral Load in Lungs of Mice and Ferrets. Rosendahl Huber SK, Camps MG, Jacobi RH, Mouthaan J, van Dijken H, van Beek J, Ossendorp F, de Jonge J. PLoS One. 2015 Jun 5;10(6):e0127969. 

H7N9 Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine Is Highly Immunogenic, Prevents Virus Replication, and Protects Against Severe Bronchopneumonia in Ferrets. de Jonge J, Isakova-Sivak I, van Dijken H, Spijkers S, Mouthaan J, de Jong R, Smolonogina T, Roholl P, Rudenko L. Mol Ther. 2016 May;24(5):991-1002. 


E-mail: info@rivm.nl