Professor P.S. Hiemstra, PhD

Area(s) of interest

  • Immunologist


Prof. P.S. Hiemstra studied Biology at the University of Utrecht where he graduated in 1984. Prof. P.S. Hiemstra obtained his PhD degree at the Medical Faculty of Leiden University in 1988 (Thesis: Activation of the alternative pathway of the complement system by immunoglobulin A). Following one year as a research fellow in the Depts. of Nephrology and Rheumatology, he joined the Department of Infectious Diseases as an assistant professor to work on phagocyte biology. In 1990-1991 he spent a 5-month post-doctoral training period in the laboratory of Prof. R.I. Lehrer (UCLA, Los Angeles, USA), where he worked on antimicrobial peptides. In 1992, he joined the Department of Pulmonology as an assistant professor and head of the laboratory of the department. In 1994 he was appointed associate professor, and in 2004 Professor of Respiratory Cell Biology and Immunology.

Prof. P.S. Hiemstra is head of the Laboratory for Respiratory Cell Biology and Immunology of the Department, project leader and collaborator in various research projects within and outside the department. His international scientific activities include membership of the editorial board of the scientific journals (American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine; Respiratory Research), acting as reviewer for various international journals and granting organizations, and chairing the “Airway Cell Biology and Immunopathology” of the European Respiratory Society (group 3.2 of the Cell and Molecular Biology Assembly). His national scientific activities include membership of the board of the Leiden Institute for Immunology (LIFI) and the Scientific Advisory Committee Netherlands Asthma Foundation, and being secretary of the founding board of the Netherlands Respiratory Society. Within the LUMC he is involved as a teacher in a variety of immunology-related courses in the Medical and Biomedical curriculum and in post-graduate teaching, and he is chair of the Education Committee Biomedical Sciences at LUMC.


Areas of interest

  • Pulmonology
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
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Research interests

The research focus of  Prof. P.S. Hiemstra is on the role of the immune system in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, with a focus on innate immunity and airway epithelial cells. He have a specific interest in the interaction between immune cells and structural cells in the lung, since this is key to understanding how inflammation drives airway remodeling leading to impaired lung function. To answer research questions in this area of research, the combination of basic and clinical research is needed. This multidisciplinary approach to research is a characteristic of the research of the Department of Pulmonology.

The basic research lines in our laboratory focus on the role of antimicrobial peptides and proteinase inhibitors, chemokines, epithelial cells, airway smooth muscle cells, and phagocytes. Cell culture systems are an important tool in our research, and we have developed state-of-the-art culture systems for airway epithelial cells, using air-liquid interface culture to obtain mucociliary differentiation of these cells. The involvement in clinical research projects of our department is essential for the translational aspects of our research. Our laboratory is responsible for the analysis of lung tissue and airway secretions derived from these clinical studies. This combination of basic research and clinical research has provided new insights into the role of innate immunity in the pathogenesis of COPD and asthma.

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Leiden University Medical Center
Building 1

Albinusdreef 2
2333 ZA Leiden
Tel: 71 5262950

Postalzone C3-P
P.O. Box 9600
2300 RC Leiden
The Netherlands