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Dr S.M. van Ham (1964) has been named professor of Biological Immunology at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science (FNWI).

Marieke van Ham has worked as head of the Immunopathology department at Sanquin Research in Amsterdam since 2005. Research conducted by her department centres on the regulation of antibody response. Van Ham’s research focuses on the role of antigen presentation by MHC molecules on the cell surface. In addition to activating T cells, this process plays an important role in ensuring an optimal antibody response. Van Ham’s studies have shown that B cells internalise bacteria through phagocytosis by means of specific B-cell receptors, resulting in efficient antigen presentation. Van Ham studies the mechanisms underlying the generation of optimal T-helper cell responses s through internalisation of complexes of pathogenic or cellular antigens. She studies these mechanisms in infection and upon non-infectious immune activation during alloimmunisation and hyperimmunisation.

Van Ham is also responsible for the immunology education as part of the FNWI’s Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. This education is provided in close collaboration between the FNWI, Sanquin, AMC-UvA and NKI-AVL. Van Ham’s lectures focus on the biological and fundamental mechanisms of the human immune system.

Prior to her career at Sanquin, Van Ham worked at various institutes including NKI-AVL, the Imperial Cancer Research Institute (London, United Kingdom) and the Max-Planck-Institut für Infektionsbiologie (Tübingen, Germany). She is a member of the board of the Center for Immunology in Amsterdam and treasurer of the Dutch Society for Immunology’s Lunteren Course Committee. Van Ham has published extensively in professional journals such as Journal of Experimental Medicine, Journal of Immunology and PLOS One.