In memory of Jaak M.J.J. Vossen (1937–2019)

08 May 2019 | Back to News, Publications and Annual Reports

On 30 April last, Prof. Jaak Vossen passed away at the age of 81. Prof. Vossen worked at the Leiden University Medical Center as a paediatrician from 1968 and as professor of Paediatrics with a chair in paediatric immunology from 1979 to 2002.

He was among the front runners in the field of stem cell transplantations for children. The applications of these transplantations include the treatment of diseases in the blood-forming organs (e.g. leukaemia, aplastic anaemia and combined immunodeficiencies) as well as life-threatening metabolic diseases. After transplantation of stem cells in laboratory animals had been developed in Rijswijk, a team of experts from Leiden and Rijswijk were the first in Europe who successfully applied the technique to a child with a severe immunodeficiency in 1968.

Jaak Vossen collaborated closely with the researchers at the Radiobiological Institute TNO and subsequently with researchers at BPRC in Rijswijk. Under the supervision of Jaak, methods developed in Rijswijk to control microflora were adopted in Leiden, including the prevention of infections among young patients through protective isolation. Children with the above conditions receiving stem cell transplantations benefited from these two techniques. Collaboration between Jaak Vossen and Rijswijk researchers led to a number of academic as well as clinical publications in international journals.

Not only was Jaak a devoted doctor who cared for his patients and their parents, but he was also a passionate researcher and a wonderful colleague.

We would like to express our sympathies to his wife Jacqueline, their children and relatives.

On behalf of the past and present employees at the Radiobiological Institute and at Biomedical Primate Research Centre,

Peter J. Heidt