Prof. Dr. Pierre Vanderhaeghen has been awarded the Generet Prize for Rare Diseases for his research into the development of the human brain and ways in which things sometimes go wrong. This prestigious Prize, awarded by the Generet Fund which is managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, is linked to funding with a value of one million euros.
Lots of activity in our building these weeks, as the labs located in ON4 are gradually moving to the new ON5 building this January and February.
Congrats to Lynette Lim, Stein Aerts, Sandrine Da Cruz, Matthew Holt and Pierre Vanderhaeghen on obtaining project funding from FWO!
The Science paper by Ryohei Iwata, Pierre Casimir and Pierre Vanderhaeghen on how mitochondrial dynamics in postmitotic cells regulate neurogenesis has been picked up by national news channels.
In this week’s edition of Science, a Belgian team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen (VIB-KU Leuven, ULB) finds that mitochondria regulate a key event during brain development: how neural stem cells become nerve cells. Mitochondria influence this cell fate switch during a precise period that is twice as long in humans compared to mice. The seminal findings highlight an unexpected function for mitochondria that may help explain how humans developed a bigger brain during evolution, and how mitochondrial defects lead to neurodevelopmental diseases.
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, ULB and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells. These findings shed new light on the unique features of the human brain and open new perspectives for brain repair and the study of brain diseases.
Researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Jérôme Bonnefont (VIB-KU Leuven and ULB), in collaboration with Stein Aerts (VIB KU Leuven) and François Guillemot (Crick Institute), have unraveled a new mechanism controlling the switch between growth and differentiation of neural stem cells during brain development. They discovered a specific factor that makes stem cells ‘deaf’ to proliferative signals, which in turn causes them to differentiate into neurons and shape the marvelous complexity of our brain.
The human brain is a remarkable organ, but how did it evolve to give us such unprecedented cognitive abilities? The research team of Pierre Vanderhaeghen (ULB, VIB-KU Leuven) turned to the genome for answers. In the latest edition of Cell, they report that a set of genes found only in humans and in no other living species, controls key steps of brain development. These genes could be human-specific regulators of brain size, a finding with important implications for human evolution and disease.