Professor Molecular Immunology
Paul W.H.I. Parren is professor of Molecular Immunology at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). He is managing director and head of Research and Development at LAVA Therapeutics, a start-up biotechnology company in Utrecht. He is an Operational Partner at Gilde Healthcare in Utrecht. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization The Antibody Society and a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of the annual Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics conferences in US and EU, and the Viral Immunotherapeutic Consortium, a US NIH-funded international consortium to discover and deliver antibody therapeutics against multiple families of emerging infectious diseases; and he is a member of the External Advisory Group for the Scientific Research Partnership for Neglected Tropical Snakebite (SRPNTS) program sponsored by the UK Department for International Development.
The chair is aimed at increasing understanding of the molecular mechanisms of immune recognition and stimulate the translation of research findings into applications, therapies and valorisation.
Paul Parren’s research focusses on the studying antibody biology at the molecular level and translating these findings to applications in the clinic. These applications encompass (clinically) validated innovated antibody technologies that allow antibody therapeutics to be developed in novel formats, thereby providing novel treatment modalities that aim to increase treatment efficacy, ultimately leading to cures for life-threatening and debilitating diseases.
Paul Parren studied Biology at the University of Amsterdam with a B.S. in Chemical Biology in 1984 and a M.Sc. in Experimental Oncology (cum laude) in 1987. He did his graduate work in the department of Autoimmune Diseases at the Central Laboratory of the Netherlands Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service in Amsterdam studying crosstalk between recombinant (human) antibodies and innate effector mechanisms with Prof. Lucien Aarden. On June 12, 1992 he received a PhD from the University of Amsterdam after he defended his thesis entitled: “Recombinant antibodies to CD3”. Next, he was a Postdoc at Baxter Diagnostics in Miami, FL where he studied recombinant T-cell receptors and a Postdoc, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor in the department of Immunology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, where he interrogated the human antibody response in protection against viral infections including HIV-1 and Ebola virus. From 2002-2017, he served in the positions of Vice President, Senior Vice President and Scientific Director at the biotechnology company Genmab in Utrecht, where he headed preclinical R&D. Between 2013-2018, he was an Adjunct Honorary Professor of Translational Cancer Research at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. In 2015, he became a Professor of Molecular Immunology at the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, and on 14 September 2018 he spoke his inaugural lecture entitled: “Our immune system: a source of inspiration for innovative drug research”. In 2018, he accepted the role of head of R&D at the start-up biotech Lava Therapeutics to develop novel bispecific T-cell engagers for cancer therapy. He also provides drug development, patent and investment advice as an independent biotech consultant.
Prof. Parren is dedicated to translate antibody biology and immunotherapy knowledge into innovative therapeutics and technologies. He has a passion for investigating and understanding structure-function relationships and translating the knowledge gained into immunotherapy applications and drug development. He is an inventor and developer of the therapeutic antibodies ofatumumab (Arzerra) and daratumumab (DARZALEX). Ofatumumab is approved for the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and is in phase III development for Multiple Sclerosis. Ofatumumab received the Dutch Galenus Prize in 2011 for most innovative new medicine. Daratumumab is approved worldwide for the treatment of Multiple Myeloma. Paul Parren further invented and developed several clinically translated technologies aimed at improving antibody therapy, including bispecific antibodies and effector function-enhanced antibodies His work has thus far directly led to three therapeutic antibodies that received a FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation and ten further therapeutic antibodies currently in (phase I to III) clinical development for the treatment of several cancers, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Prof. Parren supports antibody-related research in the dept. of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion and beyond, with the aim to stimulate the implementation of state-of-the-art antibody technologies in drug development and to innovate, translate and disseminate (therapeutic) antibody knowledge.
Prizes and honourable appointments
Paul Parren has published extensively both in the scientific as well as the patent literature. He authored over 200 scientific publications. He edited issues of Current Opinion in Immunology (2008 & 2016) and Methods (2014). He in inventor on 47 issued patent families that resulted in 60 US and 50 EU patents and numerous patents in other countries. In total, he co-authored 77 published PCT patent applications. He chaired sessions at 40+ scientific conferences and gave over 190 invited oral presentations at international scientific and business conferences including 12 plenary keynote lectures. In 2017, he received the Utrecht award for excellence in Pharmaceutical Science.
Paul Parren intiated and organized the Dutch Complement Symposium and the European Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics conference
- Scientific advisory board
- Senior vice-president
- Scientific advisory board
- Adjunct Professor