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 (72)

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

Monoclonal antibodies effectively potentiate complement activation and phagocytosis of Staphylococcus epidermidis in neonatal human plasma

de Vor Lisanne, Beudeker Coco R., Flier Anne, Scheepmaker Lisette M., Aerts Piet C., Vijlbrief Daniel C., Bekker Mireille N., Beurskens Frank J., van Kessel Kok P.M., de Haas Carla J.C., Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., van der Flier Michiel 29 Jul 2022, In: Frontiers in Immunology. 13 , p. 1-14

Multifaceted Activities of Seven Nanobodies against Complement C4b

De la O Becerra Karla I., Oosterheert Wout, van den Bos Ramon M., Xenaki Katerina T., Lorent Joseph H., Ruyken Maartje, Schouten Arie, Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., van Bergen En Henegouwen Paul M.P., Gros Piet 1 May 2022, In: Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 208 , p. 2207-2219 13 p.

Natural Human Immunity Against Staphylococcal Protein A Relies on Effector Functions Triggered by IgG3

Boero Elena, Cruz Ana Rita, Pansegrau Werner, Giovani Cinzia, Rooijakkers Suzan H.M., van Kessel Kok P.M., van Strijp Jos A.G., Bagnoli Fabio, Manetti Andrea G.O. 11 Mar 2022, In: Frontiers in Immunology. 13 , p. 1-14

Thrombosis pathways in COVID-19 vs. influenza-associated ARDS:a targeted proteomics approach

Rademaker Emma, Doorduijn Dennis J, Kusadasi Nuray, Maas Coen, Drylewicz Julia, Huisman Albert, Hoefer Imo E, Bonten Marc J M, Derde Lennie P G, Rooijakkers Suzan H M, Cremer Olaf L 12 Feb 2022, In: Journal of thrombosis and haemostasis : JTH. 20 , p. 1206-1212 7 p.

Human monoclonal antibodies against Staphylococcus aureus surface antigens recognize in vitro and in vivo biofilm

de Vor Lisanne, van Dijk Bruce, van Kessel Kok, Kavanaugh Jeffrey S., de Haas Carla, Aerts Piet C., Viveen Marco C., Boel Edwin C., Fluit Ad C., Kwiecinski Jakub M., Krijger Gerard C., Ramakers Ruud M., Beekman Freek J., Dadachova Ekaterina, Lam Marnix G. E. H., Vogely H. Charles, van der Wal Bart C. H., van Strijp Jos A. G., Horswill Alexander R., Weinans Harrie, Rooijakkers Suzan H. M. 6 Jan 2022, In: eLife. 11 , p. 1-25

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. Nov 2021, In: PLoS Pathogens. 17

All research output

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