Frank Leo van de Veerdonk, M.D., Ph.D., Nijmegen Medical Centre Radboud University (RUNMC) and Nijmegen Institute for Infection, Inflammation and Immunity (N4i), has received a 2013 ICAAC Young Investigator Award for his work in the field of fungal immunology. Charles Dinarello, University of Colorado, says, “I see Frank as one of the new generation of innovative thinkers in the field of cytokine biology, particularly as it applies to infection.”
Van de Veerdonk earned his medical degree in 2001 from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He started as a resident in Internal Medicine at Jeroen Bosch Hospital in s’ Hertogenbosch under the supervision of Paetrick Netten. In 2006, he continued his training in Internal Medicine at Radboud University in Nijmegen where he was supervised by Jos van der Meer. He began his Ph.D. in 2007, and under the supervision of Mihai Netea, he studied pattern recognition receptors and pathogen associated molecular patterns of Candida albicans and Candida-specific innate and adaptive immune responses. During this time new insights in Th17 biology were discovered and van de Veerdonk found that mutations in STAT1 that lead to gain of function are responsible for autosomal dominant chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis. Mihai Netea, Radboud University Nijmegen, considers this discovery, “a major breakthrough in the diagnosis of immunodeficiencies with fungal infections.”
While completing his Ph.D., he worked at St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital in the laboratory of Thirumala Kanneganti, where he studied the role of the inflammasome in invasive candidiasis. After receiving a Niels Stensen Stipend in 2010, he went to the University of Colorado to study the role of the new interleukin-1 (IL 1) family members IL-36, IL-37 and IL-38 under the supervision of Charles Dinarello. Dinarello considers van de Veerdonk “a gifted physician/scientist who always has his eye focused on what we can learn from patients.” While van de Veerdonk was at the University of Colorado, he discovered that IL-38 binds to the IL-36R and acts similar to IL-36Ra on immune cells. After returning to Nijmegen he finished his Ph.D. and graduated cum laude from Radboud University.
In 2011 van de Veerdonk completed his fellowship in infectious diseases. Then in 2012 he became a faculty member at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre where he works as an internist-infectious diseases specialist. He received a grant from the Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences (NCMLS) and a Veni grant from Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) to build his own research group in the laboratory of Mihai Netea and Leo Joosten. Van de Veerdonk is focusing his research on the host defense against Aspergillus and the functional biology of the new IL 1 family members IL-36, IL-37 and IL-38.