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In memoriam Jon van Rood July 2017
Jon van Rood

Jon van Rood 1926-2017​

It is with great sadness that we have been informed about the recent passing of one of EBMT’s founding and honorary members, Prof. Jon van Rood on July 21st. With our deepest sympathy our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.

Since his finding in 1958 that pregnancy is able to induce leucocyte antibodies, he has made many important contributions to the field of histocompatibility and immunogenetics. He was the first using a computer to analyse a larger number of serological reactions in order to be able to detect some of the first HLA alleles like 4a and 4b, now called Bw4 and Bw6. He recognised the importance of HLA typing and introduced it into transfusion and transplantation medicine.

Jon worked most of his career at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC, Leiden, Netherlands). He was a pioneer in translational immunology, an outstanding scientist in the field of transplantation medicine, a founder of the European Federation of Immunogenetics (EFI), a founder of the Eurotransplant International Foundation, and most importantly to our community a founder of the European group for Bone Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) that has now matured into the world-leading European society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.

Until the very end of his life and long after his retirement from his academic position, Dr J van Rood remained active within EBMT, and particularly within the EBMT CTIWP, of which he was honorary chair: he participated in one of their most recent teleconferences, discussing the presentation and publication of observations on the role of IPA and NIMA in the outcome of hematopoietic cell transplantation, thus pursuing the deciphering of one of his favorite topics: the immune repertoire of mothers and children, and how these affect the outcome of organ and cell transplantations.

Through his personal scientific achievements, Jon has inspired several generations of young scientists. This was reflected in the creation several years ago of the Jon van Rood award, delivered during the Immunobiology Working Party then CTIWP Session at the EBMT Annual Meeting: the award recognises a top-level publication authored by a junior investigator during the year preceding the annual meeting. Recent recipients of the Jon van Rood award include:

  • 2010:  Luca Vago, Katharina Fleishhauer: “Loss of mismatched HLA as a mechanism of leukaemia immune escape in family haploidentical and unrelated haematopoietic stem cell transplantation”. N Engl J Med2009 Jul 30; 361(5):478-88. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0811036.
  • 2011: Cristina Cunha: “Dectin-1 Y238X polymorphism associates with susceptibility to invasive aspergillosis in hematopoietic transplantation through impairment of both recipient- and donor-dependent mechanisms of antifungal immunity”. Blood. 2010 Dec 9; 116(24):5394-402. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-04-279307. Epub 2010 Aug 31.
  • 2012: Oliver C. Goodyear: “Azacitidine augments expansion of regulatory T cells after allogeneic stem cell transplantation in patients with acute myeloid leukemia" Blood. 2012 Apr 5;119(14):3361-9. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-09-377044. Epub 2012 Jan 10.
  • 2013: Nicoletta Cieri: “IL-7 and IL-15 instruct the generation of human memory stem T cells from naive precursors”. Blood. 2013 Jan 24; 121(4):573-84. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-05-431718. Epub 2012 Nov 15.
  • 2013: Anita N. Kremer: Endogenous HLA class II epitopes that are immunogenic in vivo show distinct behavior toward HLA-DM and its natural inhibitor HLA-DO. Blood. 2012 Oct 18; 120(16):3246-55. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-12-399311. Epub 2012 Aug 13.
  • 2014: Sanja Stevanovic HLA class II upregulation during viral infection leads to HLA-DP-directed graft-versus-host disease afterCD4+ donor lymphocyte infusion. Blood. 2013 Sep 12;122(11):1963-73
  • 2015:  Robert Zeiser, Lukas Martin Schwab: “Neutrophil granulocytes recruited upon translocation of intestinal bacteria enhance graft-versus-host disease via tissue damage”. Nat Med. 2014 Jun; 20(6):648-54. doi: 10.1038/nm.3517.
  • 2015: Mathias Hauri-Hohl: “A regulatory role for TGF- signaling in the establishment and function of the thymic medulla”. Nat Immunol. 2014 Jun; 15(6):554-61. doi: 10.1038/ni.2869.
  • 2016:  Yael Zlotnikov Klionsky:  “Perforin-Positive Dendritic Cells Exhibit an Immunoregulatory Role in Metabolic Syndrome and Autoimmunity”. Immunity. 2015 Oct 20; 43(4):776-87. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2015.08.015. 
  • 2017: Sabrina RAVENS. Hannover Medical School, Germany. “Human γδ T cells are quickly reconstituted after stem cell transplantation and show adaptive clonal expansion after viral infection”. Nat Immunol. 2017 Apr; 18(4):393-401. doi: 10.1038/ni.3686. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

He will be remembered by the EBMT as a great hero and a true legend in the field of transplant. An inspiration to us all.


Mohamad Mohty

EBMT President



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