Situated in Belgium, in the heart of Western Europe, KU Leuven has been a centre of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium’s largest university and, founded in 1425, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe. As a leading European research university and co-founder of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), KU Leuven offers a wide variety of international master’s programmes, all supported by high-quality, innovative, interdisciplinary research. KU Leuven provides a stimulating home for all types of research, from fundamental to applied, and from individual research projects to large-scale, international research consortia.
dr. Liesbet Geris
Dr. Liesbet Geris
The research of the Computational Tissue Engineering unit of the Biomechanics Section is focusing on the multi-scale and multi-physics modelling of the biological processes in the context of bone tissue engineering. One of the major challenges in tissue engineering and an essential step towards successful clinical applications is the translation of biological knowledge on complex cell and tissue behaviour into a predictive and robust engineering process. Computational modelling can contribute to this, among others because it allows studying the biological complexity in a more quantitative way. Computational tools can help in quantifying, processes and micro-environmental signals to which cells and tissues are exposed and in understanding and predicting the biological response under different conditions. A suite of model systems is available, ranging from mechanistic models (hypothesis-based) over network models to empirical models (data-driven), targeting processes at the intracellular over the cellular up to the tissue level. Specific research projects focus on 4 subjects: (1) optimisation of cell culture conditions performing large-scale in silico screening; (2) identification of ideal scaffold properties for 3D printed materials including hydrogels, ceramics and degradable metals; (3) quantification and optimisation of biological processes in perfusion bioreactor based cultures; (4) investigating the aetiology of non-healing fractures, designing potential in silico cell-based treatment strategies.
dr. Christa Maes
Dr. Christa Maes
The overall objective of the research program of the Laboratory of Skeletal Cell Biology and Physiology (SCEBP Lab, PI Christa Maes) is to gain novel insights in the functioning of osteoblast lineage cells, in order to contribute to the understanding of skeletal biology and to the future development of new and better osteo-anabolic therapies. These are much needed to treat the growing group of people suffering from widespread bone diseases such as osteoporosis and to help patients with compromised fracture healing, either by stimulating endogenous repair mechanisms or through tissue engineering approaches.
In the SCEBP lab, we study the genetic and molecular control of bone development, growth, remodelling and repair, and we aim to understand the basic mechanisms underlying the functioning of osteoblast lineage cells in these processes. In addition, we are also interested in the contribution of osteogenic cells to homeostasis and disease in the broader physiological context of the organism, as skeletal cells also exert influences beyond the bone proper, for instance in the regulation of hematopoiesis and whole-body energy metabolism. One of our prime current goals is to elucidate the significance and molecular regulation of cell movement, adhesion and positioning in bone cells. By using genetically modified mice, in vivo lineage tracing approaches, in vitro systems and a variety of molecular methods, the relevance of selected genes is being studied in bone homeostasis and repair. Candidate targets include cell-intrinsic mediators regulating the motility, trafficking, adhesion and differentiation of osteogenic progenitor cells and the interplay between these cells and their local microenvironment, especially the skeletal vasculature. This research objective is based on the premise that stimulating the recruitment of osteoblasts to sites in need of bone formation could be a valuable osteo-anabolic approach in osteoporosis therapy and/or bone regeneration strategies.