Joachim Aerts graduated as MD in 1997 from Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Subsequently, he performed his medical specialty training in Pulmonary Medicine and Tuberculosis with focus on thoracic oncology, which he completed in 2002. He has combined the work as a pulmonologist in a teaching hospital, Amphia Hospital Breda and an academic hospital, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam (Erasmus MC). In 2014, Prof Aerts was appointed as professor in Pulmonary Oncology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. In May 2017 he was appointed full time at Erasmus MC, where he became head of the department of Pulmonary Medicine in January 2018. Prof. Aerts is co-author of >200 articles in international peer reviewed scientific journals.
His main research focus is on fundamental, translational and clinical research in immuno oncology, with a strong focus on lung cancer and mesothelioma. The thoracic oncology research Rotterdam group has developed a novel form of immuno therapy for patients with mesothelioma. After a decade of laboratory research, this approach was proven tolerable and safe in a phase I trial, for which Prof Aerts received a so called ‘Parel’ award in March 2018, a recognition for excellent and exceptional research by The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) and in 2019 a development award from the Dutch government. Currently, this approach is studied in an international multicentre phase II/III randomised controlled trial. This project is funded by the European Unions’ Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. In collaboration with the department of Surgery of Erasmus MC, this form of immuno therapy is now also investigated for other forms of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer and abdominal mesothelioma.
As PI and as co-investigator, Prof Aerts is involved in many studies, e.g. on biomarkers for lung cancer and a technique that can be used to predict whether patients with lung cancer will or will not respond to specific types of immuno therapy. These projects are funded by funding agencies such as the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) and ZonMw, and pharmaceutical companies.
Prof Aerts is leader of the core network on mesothelioma and board member of the European Reference Network on Rare Respiratory Diseases (ERN-Lung). He is a frequent invited speaker on international conferences, and he is scientific committee member of multiple national and international societies, such as the NVALT, EORTC, ASCO, ESMO, IASLC, ETOP, AACR, ERS, CIMT and ATS.