Experts in clinical and epidemiological virology
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Herestraat 49 box 1040
3000 Leuven

Team Leader

Prof. Jelle Matthijnssens (PhD)
Principal Investigator
Phone: +32 163 211 61
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Team Members

Prof. Wim Laleman (MD, PhD)
Hepatology Professor & Clinical Hepatologist
Phone: +32 163 416 39
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Lore Van Espen
PhD Student
Phone: +32 161 934 67
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Institute Presentation

Over more than 60 years since its foundation, the Rega Institute has been dedicated to fundamental and translational research on medical microbiology. The Rega Institute is part of the KU Leuven and permanent staff members belong to the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Transplantation (Faculty of Medicine) and the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, Unit of Medicinal Chemistry (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences). The Laboratory of Viral Metagenomics, headed by Prof. Jelle Matthijnssens is part of the Laboratory of Clinical and Epidemiological Virology. Their main research lines use various viral metagenomics approaches in combination with Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology for virus discovery projects as well as studies investigating the viral component of human microbiomes in relationship to human health and disease (e. g. inflammatory bowel diseases, liver diseases). Both Prof. Jelle Matthijnssens and PhD student Lore Van Espen from the Laboratory of Viral Metagenomics are involved in MICROB-PREDICT and are responsible for the study of the intestinal virome in stool samples of a subset of patients enrolled in this study (WP2), as well as in the validation of potential viral biomarkers (WP5).

In addition to the Rega Institute, the section of Liver Disease of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the University Hospitals Leuven & KU Leuven also teams up and adds a clinical perspective, access to patient-related materials and clinical datasets. The liver unit currently counts 6 staff members, was founded in 1963, and has pursued high quality daily care ever since for patients with various liver disorders, amongst others cirrhosis and complications (including acute on chronic liver failure, ACLF).  For the purpose of this latter, the Leuven liver unit has joined the European CLIF (Chronic Liver Failure) consortium. Prof. Wim Laleman is member of the Steering Committee of CLIF and co-principal investigator of the PREDICT-study which was initiated by the CLIF consortium in 2017. This multi-centre European study aims to assess prospectively the critical period prior to the development of acute on chronic liver failure (ACLF) (1), to uncover mechanistic and pathophysiological processes associated with the development and clinical course of ACLF (2), to identify the precipitating events of ACLF (3) and to serve as a hub for mechanistic studies (4), such as MICROB-PREDICT.  The Liver Unit also participates in MICROB-PREDICT, an auxiliary study unraveling the role of the gut microbiome and pursuing its diagnostic and prognostic vaule in disease progression, and contributes to clinical exploration microbiome & ACLF (WP1)