Christine Van Broeckhoven Lab

Research focus

The Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases (NBD) group aims to enhance the molecular understanding of complex neurodegenerative dementias and related disorders.

The group leader, Prof. Dr. Christine Van Broeckhoven, PhD, DSc, has a primary research focus on neurogenetics of early-onset dementia, biosampling and biobanking, molecular diagnostics and translational research. The Staff Scientists contribute with diverse expertise:  Prof. Dr. Kristel Sleegers, MD PhD has expertise in genetic neuro-epidemiology and statistical genetics and primarily focusses on Alzheimer disease; Prof. Dr. Jurgen Del-Favero is specialized in developing molecular genomics tools;  Prof. Dr. Julie van der Zee, PhD has expertise in neurogenetics with focus on frontotemporal dementia, and Prof. Dr. Marc Cruts, PhD is specialized in genomics with a special interest in non-coding DNA and genetic modifiers.

The NBD group has a strong tradition in biobanking and biosampling. Through the coordination of national and international neurology networks, we systematically collect large cohorts of patients for advanced molecular genetic studies aimed at elucidating the genetic etiology and molecular complexity of dementia. We are especially skilled in sampling large (founder) families for genetic studies aiming at identifying novel disease genes for early-onset dementia. We put special emphasis on targeted collection of selected patient cohorts with an apparent high genetic load such as rare but well-documented families, nuclear families with at least two affected family members; (founder) pedigrees with marked variability in disease penetrance and expression; patients with extreme or distinctive endophenotypes (e.g. very early onset age or unusual combination of symptoms).

In these distinct and large patient cohorts with unique genetic heritage, we employ advanced genetic and genomic approaches including whole exome and genome sequencing, large-scale targeted re-sequencing and RNA sequencing to identify rare highly penetrant mutations, and risk and disease modifying genetic variations. Novel key genes and proteins are studied to unravel the underlying biological pathways with the objective to identify key molecular events and therapeutic targets for CNS neurodegeneration. Targets that define the onset of pathology will constitute prime markers for early diagnosis.
Our ultimate goal is to use our enhanced understanding of the neuropathological signatures of dementia and neurodegeneration to generate diagnostic and therapeutic strategies that are specifically tailored to our well-characterized family and patient cohorts. Eventually these translational findings will be able to be transmitted to the general patient population.

> video on basic research on the need to prevent dementia and alzheimer - Christine Van Broeckhoven - ©VIB, 2015​

All publications of Christine Van Broeckhoven on PubMed

All publications of Marc Cruts on PubMed

All publications of Kristel Sleegers on PubMed

All publications of Julie van der Zee on PubMed


NanoSatellite: accurate characterization of expanded tandem repeat length and sequence through whole genome long-read sequencing on PromethION.De Roeck Arne De Coster Wouter Bossaerts Liene Cacace Rita De Pooter Tim Van Dongen Jasper D'Hert Svenn De Rijk Peter Strazisar Mojca Van Broeckhoven Christine Sleegers Kristel@GENOME BIOLOGY, 20, 239, 2019@: corresponding authors
The C9orf72 repeat size correlates with onset age of disease, DNA methylation and transcriptional downregulation of the promoterGijselinck Ilse Van Mossevelde Sara van der Zee Julie Sieben Anne Engelborghs S De Bleecker J. Ivanoiu A Deryck O Edbauer D Zhang m Heeman Bavo Bäumer Veerle Van den Broeck Marleen Mattheijssens Maria Peeters Karin Rogaeva E De Jonghe Peter Cras P Martin J De Deyn P Cruts Marc Consortium B.E.L.N.E.U Van Broeckhoven ChristineMOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY, 21, 1112-24, 2016
Clinical features of TBK1 carriers compared with C9orf72, GRN and non-mutation carriers in a Belgian cohortVan Mossevelde Sara van der Zee Julie Gijselinck Ilse Engelborghs S Sieben Anne Van Langenhove Tim De Bleecker J. Baets Jonathan Vandenbulcke M Van Laere K. Ceyssens S Van den Broeck Marleen Peeters Karin Mattheijssens Maria Cras P Vandenberghe R De Jonghe Peter Martin J De Deyn P Cruts Marc Consortium B.N.C Van Broeckhoven ChristineBRAIN, 139, 452-67, 2016
Mutations in ABCA7 in a Belgian cohort of Alzheimer's disease patients: a targeted resequencing studyCuyvers Elise De Roeck Arne Van den Bossche Tobi Van Cauwenberghe Caroline Bettens Karolien Vermeulen Steven Mattheijssens Maria Peeters Karin Engelborghs S Vandenbulcke M Vandenberghe R De Deyn P Van Broeckhoven Christine Sleegers KristelLANCET NEUROLOGY, 14, 814-822, 2015
A 22-single nucleotide polymorphism Alzheimer's disease risk score correlates with family history, onset age, and cerebrospinal fluid Abeta42Sleegers K* Bettens K* De Roeck A Van Cauwenberghe C Cuyvers E Verheijen J Struyfs H Van Dongen J Vermeulen S Engelborghs S Vandenbulcke M Vandenberghe R De Deyn P Consortium B Van Broeckhoven CAlzheimers & Dementia, 11, 1452-60, 2015* or °: authors contributed equally

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9 VIB researchers received funding from the Alzheimer Foundation

21/03/2019 - VIB is very grateful to the Alzheimer Research Foundation for funding the researchers received, which helps them in their quest for cures. The ​Foundation has been fighting Alzheimer's disease for years and is working on a future without dementia.

Whole human DNA sequencing at VIB on the PromethION from Oxford Nanopore Technologies

14/02/2018 - VIB is proud to be the first to report a sequencing output of 63 GB on a single PromethION flow cell in 64 h with a human DNA sample. This is a major leap forward for Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT).

Children of patients with C9orf72 mutations are at a greater risk of frontotemporal dementia or ALS at a younger age

14/02/2017 - Researchers from VIB and UAntwerp, headed by Prof. Christine Van Broeckhoven, have demonstrated that if an affected parent passes on this mutation, the children will be affected at a younger age (than the parent).

Ilse Gijselinck wins Dr. Karel-Lodewijk Verleysen award

03/12/2016 - The Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine has granted the Dr. Karel-Lodewijk Verleysen award to Ilse Gijselinck, postdoc at the VIB Department of Molecular Genetics (University of Antwerp).

Important role of nucleocytoplasmic transport in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia

12/02/2016 - Moreover, these insights have a solid basis, since they come from 4 different scientific angles. It is an important next step in our understanding of these terrible diseases.”

Genetic research provides information about 3 new genes that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

06/09/2009 - Three new risk genes have been identified by two international studies that examined the DNA of 20,000 test subjects.

Blood test predicts chance of dementia

06/03/2009 - VIB researchers have discovered that the amount of the growth factor progranulin in the blood is a predictor of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). Progranulin plays a major role in the survival of brain cells.

Research on diseases of the brain − yesterday, today and tomorrow

18/12/2008 - A scientific symposium has been held in honor of Christine Van Broeckhoven’s illustrious 25-year research career.

Advanced technology for DNA sequencing - a first in Belgium

22/05/2008 - Advanced technology for DNA sequencing - a first in Belgium

VIB and UZ-K.U.Leuven join forces and bring state-of-the-art technology to Flanders

06/11/2007 - Two Flemish research institutes are joining forces and bringing new technology to Flanders which will record DNA 100 times faster than current methods.

Researchers find cause of frontotemporal dementia

17/07/2006 - Researchers have recently discovered that the progranulin growth factor plays an important biological role in the development of this form of dementia

Researchers discover a new genetic cause of Alzheimer’s disease

19/04/2006 - VIB scientists are the first to show that changes in the promoter region of the amyloid protein lead to a higher production of this protein

Christine Van Broeckhoven

Christine Van Broeckhoven

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)


​​PhD: Univ. of Antwerp, Belgium, 1980
D.Sc. Molecular Genetics: Univ. of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium, 1994
VIB Group leader since 1996
VIB Science Director since 1996
Professor, Univ. of Antwerp since 1997
Full Professor, Univ. of Antwerp since 1999

Contact Info

VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular NeurologyGebouw VCampus Drie EikenUniversiteitsplein 1 2610 ANTWERPENRoute description