Adrian Liston Lab

Research focus

Within the Translational Immunology laboratory we have two major research divisions: Discovery Immunology and Applied Immunology.

Discovery Immunology focuses on unravelling more of the basic biology of the immune system, with an emphasis on regulatory T cells and the process of diabetes. This discovery program has led to the molecular understanding of thymic involution, the identification of a new subset of regulatory T cells, and the first really comprehensive understanding of what controls regulatory T cell number. The Discovery Immunology division feeds our Applied Immunology division, allowing us to translate advances in immunology at the highest level.

Applied Immunology focuses on the human immune system, containing our immune phenotyping platform and gene discovery program. The gene discovery program has lead to the identification of multiple new primary immunodeficiencies and inflammatory diseases, including treatments for the newly identified CECR1 (ADA2)-deficiency, identifying the immune component of Olmsted syndrome and identifying IFIH1 mutations as a cause for juvenile lupus



A kindred with mutant IKAROS and autoimmunityVan Nieuwenhove Erika Garcia-Perez Josselyn Helsen C Rodriguez P Van Schouwenburg P. A Dooley James Schlenner Susan Van Der Burg M Verhoeyen E Gijsbers R Frietze S Schjerven H Meyts I Claessens F Humblet-Baron Stéphanie Wouters C. H Liston AdrianJOURNAL OF ALLERGY AND CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGY, 142, 699-702 e12, 2018
Genetic predisposition for beta cell fragility underlies type 1 and type 2 diabetesDooley J* Tian L* Schönefeldt S* Delghingaro-Augusto V* Garcia-Perez J Pasciuto E Di Marino D Carr E Oskolkov N Lyssenko V Franckaert D Lagou V Overbergh L Vandenbussche J Allemeersch J Chabot-Roy G Dahlstrom J Laybutt D Petrovsky N Socha L Gevaert K Jetten A Lambrechts D Linterman M Goodnow C Nolan C Lesage S Schlenner S* Liston A*NATURE GENETICS, 48, 519-27, 2016* or °: authors contributed equally
The cellular composition of the human immune system is shaped by age and cohabitationCarr E* Dooley J* Garcia-Perez J Lagou V Lee J Wouters C Meyts I Goris A Boeckxstaens G Linterman M* Liston A*NATURE IMMUNOLOGY, 17, 461-8, 2016* or °: authors contributed equally
Homeostatic control of regulatory T cell diversityListon Adrian Gray D. H.NATURE REVIEWS IMMUNOLOGY, 14, 154-65, 2014
Antiapoptotic Mcl-1 is critical for the survival and niche-filling capacity of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cellsPierson W Cauwe B Policheni A Schlenner S Franckaert D Berges J Humblet-Baron S Schönefeldt S Herold M Hildeman D Strasser A Bouillet P Lu L Matthys P Freitas A Luther R Weaver C Dooley J Gray D* Liston A*NATURE IMMUNOLOGY, 14, 959-65, 2013* or °: authors contributed equally

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Profiling the immune system in paediatric arthritis patients offers hope for improved diagnosis and treatment

13/03/2019 - A team of scientists from VIB and KU Leuven has developed a machine learning algorithm that identifies children with juvenile arthritis with almost 90% accuracy from a simple blood test.

Identical twins light the way for new genetic cause of arthritis

24/01/2019 - By investigating the DNA of individual blood cells identical twins and then modelling the genetic defect in a mouse model, the research team led by Adrian Liston (VIB-KU Leuven) was able to unravel the disease mechanism.

Leuven scientists tackle one immune disease after the other

20/12/2018 - In two recent studies, the same team of scientists has uncovered the mechanisms underlying two distinct immunological disorders affecting both children and adults. Stephanie Humblet-Baron (VIB-KU Leuven) was the researcher at the helm of both projects.

Our immune systems are incredibly diverse. How much of that diversity is due to our genes?

16/10/2018 - Each of our immune systems acts differently. Environmental factors have an impact, but so do our genes. A team of researchers in Leuven went looking for links between more than 10 million genetic variations and more than 50 immunological traits.

Scientists uncover new genetic cause of lupus

09/05/2018 - Scientists and clinicians at VIB, KU Leuven and UZ Leuven identified a novel mutation causing an unusual form of the autoimmune disease lupus. The findings are published in the week leading up to World Lupus Day

New insights in genetic defect allow prevention of fatal illnesses in children

18/01/2017 - A team of scientists led by prof. Adrian Liston (VIB–KU Leuven) and prof. Isabelle Meyts (UZ Leuven – KU Leuven) were able to characterize a new genetic immunodeficiency resulting from a mutation in a gene named STAT2.

Where You Live Shapes Your Immune System More than Your Genes

29/09/2016 - In a Review published September 29 in Trends in Immunology, three immunologists discuss the emerging science of what shapes our immune systems and how it might be applied.

Three major breakthroughs in the immunology field

31/08/2016 - We had a talk with Adrian and James Dooley (Principal Staff Employee), co-first author on the Nature Immunology and Nature Genetics papers and also an author on the Science Translational Medicine paper.

Presentation of the 2016 Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigator to Adrian Liston

02/06/2016 - The independent Eppendorf Award Jury chaired by Prof. Reinhard Jahn selected Prof. Adrian Liston (VIB/KU Leuven, Belgium) as the 2016 winner of the Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators.

Decades-old mystery disease identified and potential cure found

30/03/2016 - A mysterious inflammatory disease has been afflicting a Flemish family for three generations, causing severe skin lesions, fevers, pain and exhaustion. This disease, which previously had no known cause or cure, has now been identified as PAAND.

New study may lead to improved treatment of type 2 diabetes

21/03/2016 - New research under the direction of Adrian Liston (VIB/KU Leuven) has discovered that a common genetic defect in beta cells may underlie both forms of diabetes. This research was published in the international scientific journal Nature Genetics.

Raising a child has a bigger effect on the immune system than the flu vaccine or gastroenteritis

15/02/2016 - Dr Adrian Liston, a researcher at VIB and KU Leuven who co-led the research said: "This is the first time anyone has looked at the immune profiles of two unrelated individuals in a close relationship.

Francqui Chair for Adrian Liston

15/12/2015 - ​Adrian Liston (VIB/KU Leuven) has been awarded the prestigious Belgian FrancquiChair 2015 - 2016 by the Free University of Brussels.

Anxiety increases the risk of gastrointestinal infection and long-term complications

02/07/2015 - A team comprised of scientists at VIB, KU Leuven and UZ Leuven has made significant progress in uncovering the connection between psychological factors and the immune system.

Adrian Liston

Adrian Liston

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)


​​PhD: Australian National Univ., Canberra, Australia 2005
Postdoc.: Australian National Univ., Canberra, Australia 2006
Senior fellow: Univ. of Washington, Seattle, USA, 2006-08
VIB Group leader since 2009 ​​

Contact Info

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease ResearchO&N 4, 6e verdCampus GasthuisbergHerestraat 49, bus 602 3000 LEUVENRoute description