dr. Vivian Gerretsen (MD)

CRIG member
Vivian Gerretsen

Doctoral fellow 
- Lab for immunoregulation and mucosal immunity, IRC-VIB, Ghent, Belgium 
- Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Principal investigators: prof. Bart Lambrecht (PhD) -  VIB  and prof. Joachim Aerts (PhD) - EMC


Research focus

My research focuses on the role of tumor-draining lymph nodes (TDLNs) in cancer. TDLNs are important sites for induction of an effective anti-tumor immune response. Not only is this the site where T-cells are primed, but TDLNs are also critically involved in anti-PD-1/PD-L1 treatment efficacy in preclinical tumor models, activating and expanding TCF1+ progenitor CD8+ T cells that give rise to effector T cells at the tumor microenvironment. Besides its role in immune activation, immune suppression in TDLNs might prevent a durable and effective systemic anti-tumor immune response instead. Understanding the biology of T cells including progenitor T cells in TDLNs, their relationship to tumor-infiltrating T cells (TILs) and the cellular interactions in both TDLN and tumor microenvironment (TME) that shape their identity is key.
Furthermore, we focus on understanding the relationship between type 2 immunity and cancer. Evidence on the role of type 2 inflammation in primary tumor formation is controversial, the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms are not completely understood, and the possible dichotomous functions of stroma and cancer-derived pro-Th2 alarmins and subsequent type 2 effector pathways in tumor immunity in various cancers have yet to be determined. We set out to unravel the complex interplay between innate and adaptive immune cells and the stroma and how this affects the TME and drives tumor formation and shapes the immune response in the TDLN.


  • PhD candidate tumor immunology: VIB-IRC Ghent / ErasmusMC Rotterdam (2021 – current)
  • MSc Infection and Immunity: ErasmusMC, Rotterdam, NL (2019 – 2021)
  • Medical Degree: University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NL (2012 – 2019)

Courses and events:

  • AAI Advanced Course in Immunology, Boston, MA, USA. (July 2022)
  • Speaker at Soapbox Science Brussels 2022 (June 2022)

Key publications

  • ’Immune suppression in the tumor-draining lymph node corresponds with distant disease recurrence in patients with melanoma.’ Cancer Cell. 2022. (PMID: 35839777)

Contact & links

  • Lab address:
    - Center for Inflammation Research Unit of Immunoregulation and Mucosal Immunology, UGent-VIB Research Building FSVMI, Technologiepark 71, 9052 Ghent (Zwijnaarde)
    - Department of Pulmonary Medicine, ErasmusMC, Molewaterplein 40, 1315 GD Rotterdam
  • LinkedIn
  • Vivian Gerretsen is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks