Heritable Thoracic Aortic Disease Lab


 Prof. Julie De Backer                     Prof. Patrick Sips

Prof. Julie De Backer                       Prof. Patrick Sips



  • Improve the diagnosis, risk stratification, and treatment of patients with heritable thoracic aortic disease (HTAD)
  • Approach from different angles, integrating patient data and clinical studies with experiments in animal models, including both mice and zebrafish, to study mechanisms of disease and find new therapeutic targets
  • Aim to achieve more precise clinical management for HTAD with more reliable classification of genetic variants and a better understanding of genetic modifiers of disease


  • Thoracic aorta
  • Aneurysm and dissection
  • Cardiovascular physiology
  • Mouse and zebrafish models
  • Patient data
  • Genetic engineering
  • Advanced imaging
  • High-throughput screening

Current projects

  • Study mechanisms of human cardiomyopathy in Marfan syndrome.
  • Clinical and molecular determinants of aging in congenital heart disease.
  • Use mouse models to study mechanisms leading to dissection and rupture of the thoracic aortic wall.
  • Investigate sex differences in the cardiovascular manifestations of HTAD.
  • Perform unbiased drug screening in a zebrafish model of Marfan syndrome to identify new potential therapeutic compounds  
Mouse aorta
Mouse aorta
Zebrafish aorta
Zebrafish aorta


HTAD team

  • Laura Muiño Mosquera - postdoc
  • Violette Deleeuw - PhD student
  • Karo De Rycke - PhD student
  • Marina Horvat - PhD student
  • Simon D’hulst - PhD student
  • Tijs Tournoy - PhD student
  • Lisa Caboor - lab technician
  • Griet De Smet - lab technician