Science and society are not separate entities. Scientific research is embedded in society and culture, which, in turn, are shaped by science. To explore this interaction, VIB has engaged in a collaboration with BOZAR and GLUON, in the context of its Grand Challenges Program (GCP). The aim of this collaboration is that some of the scientists involved in the Grand Challenges projects meet with international artists to explore the interfaces between art and science. This voyage of discovery will ultimately result in a work of art inspired by science.

From VIB, Jean-Christophe Marine, Sofie Goormachtig, Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke, Simon Tavernier and Maarten Dewilde will participate. The artists are Sandra Lorenzi and Kuan-Yi Ku.

On September 12th, BOZAR will host an interview with Jean-Christophe Marine (VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology) and Kathleen Machiels (KU Leuven). During the interview, BOZAR will also screen a guided video tour through the lab of Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research) and through the fields of ILVO by Sofie Goormachtig (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology). 

The livestream will take place on September 12th, 4 pm – 5.30 pm, and can be followed on the website of BOZAR and VIB's Facebook page.

FIND OUT MORE ABOut the event

Jean-Christophe Marine is part of the GCP project Pointillism, investigating personalized immunotherapy in cancer patients. The team will characterize the tumor and tumor micro-environment at a single cell level during treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors to help predict treatment outcome.

Katrien Machiels participates in the GCP Mimosa project, which explores microbiota modulation strategies in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and targets the microbial community of our gut as a way of treating inflammatory bowel disease.

Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke is a team member of the GCP project 'Targeting drugs to the brain'. This project will explore new ways through which drugs can cross the blood-brain barrier as a way of treating brain diseases

Sofie Goormachtig is a member of the 'Soy in Flanders' GCP project. This project aims to introduce soy as an alternative crop for sustainable agriculture in Flanders and will engage with 1000 citizens that will grow soy in their own garden. 

The Grand Challenges Program
VIB’s Grand Challenges Program is a strategic initiative to increase the societal impact of VIB research through addressing scientific challenges with a substantial significance. The Program’s funding will allow the selected projects to initiate collaborative efforts with transdisciplinary external experts.
Together, the project teams will work towards a rapid translation of their discoveries for the benefit of patients, customers, and society at large.

Find out more about the Grand Challenges Program here

Current projects are:

  • Improving liver disease diagnosis
  • A better understanding of primary immune deficiencies 
  • Pointillism: improving immune response of the tumor microenvironment
  • Spartacus: better treatment for arthritis
  • Targeting drugs to the brain
  • Mimosa: microbes against bowel inflammation
  • Soy in Flanders
  • Inhalable biologics to control respiratory infections (IBCORI)

For more information on these projects, visit the Grand Challenges Program page.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Challenges Program relocated funding for several COVID-19 trials to better understand COVID-19 infection, as well as to improve efficient patient treatment and management. This led to co-funding of three additional projects:

  • CONTAGIOUS: An in-depth characterization of the dynamic host immune response to COVID-19
  • SARPAC: Sargramostim treatment of patients with acute hypoxic respiratory failure due to COVID-19
  • COVAID: Treatment of Covid-19 patients with anti-interleukin drugs  


The collaboration between Bozar, Gluon and VIB GCP has been made possible by the new European initiative called STUDIOTOPIA (2019-2022). STUDIOTOPIA aims to connect artists with scientific communities across Europe, inviting them to participate in long term Art&Science Residency Programme, engage in discussions, workshops and other public activities. The intention of this project is to raise awareness and foster creative and critical reflections about environmental and societal challenges.  STUDIOTOPIA is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.


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