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


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* These 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* These authors contributed equally
Homeostatic control of regulatory T cell diversityListon A, Gray DNATURE 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* These authors contributed equally
The thymic epithelial microRNA network elevates the threshold for infection-associated thymic involution via miR-29a mediated suppression of the IFN-alpha receptorPapadopoulou A, Dooley J, Linterman M, Pierson W, ucar O, Kyewski B, Zuklys S, Hollander G, Matthys P, Gray D, De Strooper B, Liston ANATURE IMMUNOLOGY, 13, 181-7, 2012


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.

Jeffrey Modell Foundation supports Belgian research on primary immunodeficiency

09/09/2014 - ​For the first time the Jeffrey Modell Foundation is giving a research grant to a Belgian laboratory. The team of Adrian Liston from VIB-KU Leuven will use the grant to develop a gene therapy to cure children that suffer from IPEX syndrome.

Scientists discover molecular pathway that controls the strength of the immune system

14/07/2013 - Researchers led by Adrian Liston at VIB and the University of Leuven have discovered the genes that control the number of regulatory T cells in the body, a critical determinant for setting the strength of immune responses.

Balance of the immune system determined by newly discovered T cells

26/07/2011 - A new cell type, derived from FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells, helps to determine the balance of the immune system. Adrian Liston from VIB and K.U.Leuven is publishig about this discovery in Nature Medicine and Blood.

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 Translational Immunology LabKU LeuvenCDG, level 8Campus GasthuisbergHerestraat 49, bus 1026 3000 LEUVENRoute description