Jannie Borst

Jannie Borst obtained a Master degree in Biology with Chemistry at Leiden University in 1980. She did the major part of her PhD work at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School in Boston, under supervision of biochemist prof. Cox P. Terhorst, where she revealed the protein composition of the CD3/T cell receptor complex on T lymphocytes. She obtained her PhD degree from Leiden University in 1985, with prof. Jon J. van Rood as promotor. In 1987, she started her independent career as research group leader at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, with the aid of a 5-year personal Huygens fellowship from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. In 1992, she obtained a staff scientist position at the NKI-AVL and from 2002 to 2019, she has been the head of the Division of Immunology. From 1999 onwards, she is in addition professor in Experimental Oncology at the University of Amsterdam and has been coordinator of the Biomedical Master track Oncology until 2019. In January 2019, she has become the head of the Department of Immunology at Leiden University Medical School and she will continue her research line in this position.



Jannie Borst heads a research group of about 12 people (post-docs, PhD students, technicians). The group also hosts Master students. Her research line contributes insights into the regulation of the T cell response. Focus is on costimulatory membrane receptors and their associated signal transduction pathways and gene expression programs that regulate T cell proliferation, survival, metabolism, effector- and memory differentiation. In collaboration with dr. Hans van Eenennaam of Aduro Biotech Europe, she has helped to develop a new immunotherapeutic drug against cancer that is now in clinical testing. The work done in this research group is in the first place inspired by the desire to improve immunotherapy of cancer. At the same time, mechanisms we elucidate may be exploited to improve vaccination against infectious disease and to block undesired immune responses, as in auto-immunity and transplant rejection. This work is carried out in vivo in mouse models and in matching mouse and human cellular systems in vitro, whereby we presently focus on interactions between T cells and dendritic cells. We also explore the concept of "immunogenic cell death" in the context of radio- and chemotherapy. In this work, we combine our expertise on T cell- and dendritic cell function with our expertise on cell death signaling that we have built up in a second longstanding research line.

Jannie Borst is author of about 200 publications (H-index 72) that can be found on:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jannie_Borst  https://scholar.google.nl/citations?user=GAbksc4AAAAJ&hl=nl

In PubMed searches please use a second key word, such as “lymphocyte”, given the many authors with a similar name.


  • Key research findings in the field of immunology:Discovery of the CD3 gamma, delta and epsilon subunits of the human T cell receptor/CD3 complex.

  • Discovery of a novel human T-cell lineage expressing T-cell receptor gamma/delta. Generation and diagnostic use of the first antibody that could identify gamma delta T cells in human blood and tissues.

  • First description of the immunological synapse at high resolution (by electron microscopy) and identification of cytotoxic T cell granules as secretory lysosomes.
  • Identification of TNF receptor family member CD27 and its ligand CD70 as an important T cell costimulatory system, critical for the generation of effector and memory T cells.
  • Discovery of the signal transduction complex associated with the human B cell antigen receptor (BCR, a term coined by our group) and implication of present key drug target Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (Btk) in the BCR signal transduction pathway.
  • Discovery of the molecular programs underlying cytotoxic T cell effector and memory differentiation as a result of CD4+ T cell help.

Indicators of esteem:

Jannie Borst is  member of the Oncode Institute, member of EMBO and recipient of the Van Loghem career award of the Dutch Society for Immunology.