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Program Management Team

Niels Hellings, Piet Stinissen, Veerle Somers, Jerome Hendriks, Sven Hendriks, Jack van Horssen

Coordinator: Niels Hellings







The overall aim of the program is to unravel molecular and cellular disease mechanisms that underlie disorders with an autoimmune and/or a (neuro)immunological component, namely multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and central nervous system (CNS) injury (spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury).  To this end, both in vitro studies with well-defined human samples as well as appropriate animal models will provide better scientific insights into overt immune responses that lead to tissue damage and consequent disease.  Moreover, these insights will identify novel targets for diagnosis and therapy.  In the long run, the program thus strives to contribute to better treatment options and a more accurate diagnosis for patients affected with immunological disease. This domain aims to further consolidate and strengthen its well-recognized immunology expertise through participation in collaborative (inter)national research programs and innovation projects with industrial partners.

Specific research focus 

Unravel immune mechanisms in health and disease: T-cells, B-cells, myeloid cells, mast cells

Identify other disease contributing factors:
- Accelerated immune cell aging
- Genetics: functional consequence of common disease associated SNPs on immunity
- Endogenous mechanisms that limit disease activity

Design strategies to induce regeneration and remission:
- Soluble factors: e.g. cytokine therapy using lentiviral vectors
- Nutritional medicine:  dietary impact on immune system
- Antibody based interventions: targeting immune subsets or autoantigens

Broaden clinical networks to retrieve well documented patient material for all disease indications