prof. Tessa Kerre (MD, PhD)

CRIG group leader
Tessa Kerre

Head of clinic (Hematology, Ghent University Hospital)
Associate professor (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University)
Member of the CRIG steering committee
Member of the steering committee of ION (immuno-oncology network) Ghent


Research focus

Despite important progress in the treatment of blood cancers, these still remain a therapeutical challenge. We have developed a new immunotherapeutic treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive blood cancer. We generate, starting from hematopoietic stem cells from the patient, immune cells (T-cells) directed against a protein (tumor antigen) on the cell surface of the AML cells. For these T-cells to recognize, attack and kill the cancer cells, it is crucial that the tumor antigen is highly expressed on the AML cells, but has a low or absent expression on vital organs, and is preferentially overexpressed on the leukemic stem cell that generally escapes chemotherapy. We have already succeeded in generating mature T-cells directed against an AML tumor antigen, from hematopoietic stem cells from clinically applicable stem cell sources such as cord blood and mobilized peripheral blood. We are now evaluating the function of these T cells in an AML mouse model.

The first target is acute myeloid leukemia, but this is a treatment that can be expanded to other malignancies (both hematological and solid).


  • Medical doctor, Ghent University, 1990-1997, greatest distinction
  • Postgraduate course on electrocardiography, 1996, greatest distinction
  • Research fellow Flemish Science Foundation (FWO), 1997-2002
  • PhD in medical sciences, Study of homing, differentiation and expansion of human hematopoietic stem cells in immunodeficient mice, 2002
  • Specialist in Internal Medicine, 2005
  • Specialist in Clinical Hematology, 2006
  • Visiting Physician at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle and University of Washington Medical Center (evaluation report: superior), April-June 2008 and May-June 2010

Research team

Key publications

  • Immune Recovery after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Following Flu-TBI versus TLI-ATG Conditioning. Clinical Cancer Research, 2015. (PMID: 25779951)
  • Non-myeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation following fludarabine plus 2 Gy TBI or ATG plus 8 Gy TLI: a phase II randomized study from the Belgian Hematological Society. Journal of Hematology and Oncology, 2015. (PMID: 25652604)
  • In vitro generation of mature, naive antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells with a single T-cell receptor by agonist selection. Leukemia, 2014.(PMID: 24091848)
  • Can immunotherapy specifically target acute myeloid leukemic stem cells? Oncoimmunology, 2013. (PMID: 23526057)
  • The simultaneous appearance of a nasal natural killer-cell lymphoma and acute myelogenous leukemia. B-ENT, 2012. (PMID: 22545391)
  • RHAMM/HMMR (CD168) is not an ideal target antigen for immunotherapy of acute myeloid leukemia. Haematologica, 2012. (PMID: 22532518)
  • Outcome in critically ill patients with allogeneic BM or peripheral haematopoietic SCT: a single-centre experience. Bone Marrow Transplant, 2011. (PMID: 21042315)


Medical Research Buiding 2 (MRB2) UZ Gent De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Gent