Personal profile


The goal of the research of Suzan Rooijakkers is to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial killing by the human immune system. In particular, she investigates the molecular functioning of the complement system, a large protein network in plasma that plays an essential role in the immune response against all invading bacteria. Complement rapidly labels bacteria for phagocytosis by immune cells and directly kills Gram-negative bacteria via pore formation (Membrane Attack Complex (MAC)). Although the MAC is an evolutionary conserved mechanism to kill bacterial cells, we currently do not understand how complement activation results in bacterial killing. In 2015, she obtained the prestigious ERC Starting grant that is aimed at providing insight into these bacterial killing mechanisms. She has recently established novel methods to study complement activation in highly purified model systems allowing us to provide insight into MAC-dependent killing of bacteria.

Other projects in the lab involve unravelling processes underlying complement-mediated phagocytosis. Complement is essential in immune eradication of Gram-positive bacteria. She aims to elucidate the molecular details of complement opsonin-receptor interactions . The work will pave the way for several therapeutic applications, including targeted complement-dependent bacterial killing and antibody therapy of clinically important bacteria. Furthermore, her studies will create new avenues for blocking the undesired complement activation during systemic bacterial infections and sepsis.

Personal webpage

Fellowship & awards

Research Grants

2023       €1.500.000,- NWO-Vici grant

2020       €2.000.000,- personal ERC Consolidator grant from European Research Council

2019      co-applicant on a European Joint Doctorate grant

2019      €250.000,- NCOH-AMR Complex Systems grant

2018      €300.000,- NWO-TTW Industrial Doctorate grant

2018       €800.000,- NWO-TTW NACTAR        

2018       €200.000,- NWO-Aspasia grant

2018       Hub for Molecular Immunology, UU

2015     €1.500.000,- personal ERC Starting grant from European Research Council.

2013          Co-applicant on a €800.000,- Eurostars grant together with Pepscan Therapeutics and   Bicycle Therapeutics (#E7679, BAIT, Bicycle Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutics).

2011          €100.000,- Aspasia-grant from NWO.

 2010         €800.000,- personal VIDI-grant for Innovational Research Incentives from NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) (#917-11-379).

2008         European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) long term fellowship (#ALTF 382-2008).

2007          €200.000,- personal VENI-grant for Innovational Research Incentives from NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) (#916-76-037).


Contract research

2018-2021      €500.000,- Genmab-sponsored research grant  (no personal payment)

2015-2017      €300.000,- Genmab-sponsored research grant (no personal payment)

Side activities

1. 2021 (once)    External grant reviewer Wallenberg foundation, Karolinska Institute, Sweden. No compensation.

2. 2019-now    Board member Executive Board Netherlands Antibiotic Development Platform (NADP). Compensation in favor of research group at UMCU.

3. 2018-NOW   TTW-NACTAR Programme committee  (no compensation)

4. Organizer of the 2nd and 3rd international conference on antibodies and complement. May 2019 and June 2023. Girona, Spain.  (travel and registration costs of PI were compensated (<2000 euro per meeting)

5. Committee member of NWO-ZonMw Veni program (2019, once). Compensation in favor of research group at UMCU.

6. Panel member of the excecutive committe of the 'Complement UK research network', a collaborative organization that joints over 40 PIs (representing 29 UK Centers). My role as a panel member was to recruit PhD students for open positions (May 2016)  Compensation in favor of research group at UMCU.

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or