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The VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research has attracted two new faculty members in an international search for talent. Sandrine Da Cruz worked in San Diego and in Leuven she will lead a laboratory focusing on the mechanisms of ALS, while Lynette Lim worked in London and she will lead a group focusing on the development of neuronal circuits. 

The Center for Brain & Disease research, affiliated to the Flemish life-science institute VIB and the University of Leuven, is located on campus Gasthuisberg and unites 17 different research groups studying different aspects of brain biology in health and disease. 

Over the coming months, two new groups will start in Leuven, one led by prof. Sandrine Da Cruz, who previously worked at the Ludwig Institute at the University of California in San Diego, US, and by Dr. Lynette Lim, currently a researcher at King’s College London.

“I am proud to say that our research here in Leuven is of international top quality. To keep our competitive edge, it is essential we attract the best talent from around the globe and create a welcoming and diverse environment where the best and most creative minds can thrive,” says Prof. Patrik Verstreken director of the Center for Brain & Disease Research. His research center conducted an international search for new faculty last year, resulting in the hiring of Da Cruz and Lim. 

To date, Sandrine Da Cruz ran her own lab in the US. Throughout her career, Da Cruz has made break-through findings in our understanding of TDP-43, a major aggregating protein in numerous neurodegenerative conditions, including ALS. In Leuven Da Cruz and her group will leverage the excellent facilities and the proximity to the university hospital, a real strength in this type of research.

Lynette Lim will join from King’s College London. She unraveled that migration and axon targeting are coupled and this drives the assembly of cortical circuits in the brain. In Leuven, her lab will focus on the development and specification of so-called interneurons, that are important in numerous neuronal diseases. The critical mass of like-minded researchers in the vast Leuven neuroscience community were attractive to Lim, as well as the proximity of research groups at imec and NERF.

“Our two new group leaders will start building their teams in Leuven over the coming months,” says Verstreken. “Naturally, their addition to our research community will result in cross-pollination for existing and new research projects, enlarging our understanding of the function and dysfunction of the brain, and to leverage this knowledge to fix what is lost in disease.”