New VIB-UHasselt research group to tackle MS

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VIB and UHasselt have teamed up for the creation of a new research group. After an international selection procedure, renowned German professor Markus Kleinewietfeld was appointed to lead the newly created unit. The research of Kleinewietfeld’s group will focus on specific immune cells and how external factors influence our immunity. The effects of eating habits and our gut microbiome on autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis will be the primary research topic.

The UHasselt is proud to welcome the first VIB group at its university, and joins the ranks of the universities in Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Brussels. The group will be located at the university’s biomedical research institute BIOMED. Kleinewietfeld is very excited on the collaboration between the institutes:

“The dual appointment at UHasselt and VIB provides an excellent working context for my research through the combination of an outstanding scientific and clinical environment in the field of MS-research and autoimmunity at Biomed/UHasselt and the extraordinary concentration of immunological knowledge and basic- and translational research, as well as access to state of the art core-facilities and expertise at VIB. My group would be a perfect addendum to existing research at UHasselt and VIB and would offer many intersections for collaborations and for the development of new projects.”

Also present at the official opening was Flemish Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation Philippe Muyters. The Flemish government will fund the research group through the SALK-program, which was created to boost the economical development of the Limburg province. The new VIB-UHasselt research group will receive 1.6 million EUR of funding over the course of 4 years from the SALK-program. Additionally, Kleinewietfeld received a prestigious grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to further develop the new group.

Minister Muyters: “Science and innovation is one of the common threads running through the policy of the Flemish Government. Therefore we are very proud to have succeeded in attracting the prominent researcher Markus Kleinewietfeld to Flanders by means of our investments through the SALK program, and cooperation with two strong partners, VIB and UHasselt. This strengthening of expertise in MS research confirms the attraction of Flanders as research region and will place the Flemish biotech research sector even more firmly on the international map.”