Erik Aarntzen is nuclear medicine physician at the department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine and actively participates in the research group NucMed. He obtained his PhD in tumor immunology in January 2013. In these studies he investigated, with e.g. ex vivo labelled dendritic cells and different PET tracers, immune cell activation after therapeutic vaccination in melanoma patients. He was the first to demonstrate that the magnitude of 18F-FLT-PET signal in lymph nodes directly correlated to the magnitude of vaccine-specific immune responses in these patients ( Aarntzen et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011).
Triggered by these studies, he started his clinical training as nuclear medicine physician, which he finished in February 2017.His research focus is on characterizing the microenvironment in cancer and infectious diseases using ex vivo cell labelling approaches and multimodal imaging techniques. In May 2015, he co-developed the winning business plan during the Dutch Venture Challenge on spin-off possibilities of the patented multimodal PLGA-nanoparticle that will be used in this project to label lymphocytes in both mice and patients. Following up on this project, he was granted the JO RIMLS grant ‘Multimodal imaging of distinct immune cell populations with optimized nanoparticles’ in October 2016 and the Radboud Oncology Fund/KWF grant KUN2015-8106 ‘Tailored treatment in pancreatic cancer; predicting the heterogeneous behaviour of pancreatic cancer using non-invasive PET/CT imaging’ in February 2016.