Ton Schumacher started his career in 1988 in the lab of Hidde Ploegh at The Netherlands Cancer Institute, as a PhD student working on antigen presentation by MHC molecules. After his PhD (1992), and a brief stint with Ploegh at MIT, he moved to the lab of Peter Kim at The Whitehead Institute (Cambridge, USA), where he developed novel technologies for drug discovery. In 1996, he became PI at at The Netherlands Cancer institute, a position that he since 2005 combines with a professorship at Leiden University. Within his work, Schumacher aims to understand how the T cell-based immune system can recognize and destroy cancer cells. Key highlights in this work have been:
- Development of a series of technologies to measure which fragments from (tumor) antigens can be presented by MHC molecules.
- Provision of the first in vivo proof of principle for the potential value of T cell receptor gene therapy to induce defined tumor-specific T cell responses.
- Development of the concept of cellular barcoding to reveal single immune cell behavior in vivo, and the subsequent use of this technology to reveal fundamental aspects of immune responses.
- Development of high-throughput technology to measure T cell responses to patient-specific tumor antigens, and the subsequent demonstration that T cell responses against neo-antigens are common in tumors with high levels of DNA damage, and can be enhanced by immunotherapy. The latter data have contributed to the ongoing development of personalized cancer immunotherapies that aim to selectively boost T cell reactivity against patient-specific neo-antigens.
In addition to his academic work, Schumacher is co-founder of 3 biotech companies that develop antibody-, T cell-, and vaccine-based cancer immunotherapies.
- 2018: Honorary Member EATI
- 2017: Academia Europaea Member
- 2016: Peter Speiser Award
- 2016: van Loghem Award
- 2016: W.B. Coley Award
- 2015: Meyenburg Cancer Research Award
- 2014: San Salvatore Award
- 2014: Queen Wilhelmina Research Award
- 2014: Fellow European Academy of Cancer Sciences
- 2013: Scientific Advisory Council, The Cancer Research Institute
- 2010: EMBO Member
- 2010: Amsterdam Inventor Award
- 2000: Pioneer Award
- 1994-1996: Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow, The Life Sciences Research Foundation
- Ariotti, S., Hogenbirk, M. A., Dijkgraaf, F. E., Visser, L. L., Hoekstra, M. E., Song, J. Y., ... & Schumacher, T. N. (2014). Skin-resident memory CD8+ T cells trigger a state of tissue-wide pathogen alert. Science, 346(6205), 101-105.
- Gerlach, C., Rohr, J. C., Perié, L., van Rooij, N., van Heijst, J. W., Velds, A., ... & de Boer, R. J. (2013). Heterogeneous differentiation patterns of individual CD8+ T cells. Science, 340(6132), 635-639.
- Linnemann, C., Van Buuren, M. M., Bies, L., Verdegaal, E. M., Schotte, R., Calis, J. J., ... & Visser, M. (2015). High-throughput epitope discovery reveals frequent recognition of neo-antigens by CD4+ T cells in human melanoma. Nature medicine, 21(1), 81.
- Mezzadra, R., Sun, C., Jae, L. T., Gomez-Eerland, R., de Vries, E., Wu, W., ... & Broeks, A. (2017). Identification of CMTM6 and CMTM4 as PD-L1 protein regulators. Nature, 549(7670), 106.
- Strønen, E., Toebes, M., Kelderman, S., van Buuren, M. M., Yang, W., van Rooij, N., ... & Schumacher, T. N. (2016). Targeting of cancer neoantigens with donor-derived T cell receptor repertoires. Science, aaf2288.