General Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases

The mission of the department is to take a leading role in change, innovation, education and research and to excel in a balanced, accessible and broad range of care within the domain of general internal and infectious diseases.

Research Activities

The department employs researchers in the broader field of infectious diseases, ranging from public health, health systems, operational research, and fundamental research. The topics include HIV, antibiotic stewardship, COVID19, fever and inflammation of unknown origin, tuberculosis and parasitic diseases.

Research Staff

  • Prof. dr. Steven Callens: infectious diseases, tropical medicine,
  • Prof. dr. Linos Vandekerckhove: cellular interactions and extracellular matrix,  transcription and translation, virology
  • Wim Trypsteen (PhD): Analysis of next-generation sequence data, bioinformatics data integration and network biology, data visualization and high-throughput image analysis, development of bioinformatics software, tools and databases

Research Projects

  • COLIBRI-I project: triangulation of virological, epidemiological and behavioural data for improved identification of early HIV infections
  • COLIBRI-II project: exploring social and sexual networks of recently diagnosed persons living with HIV by means of qualitative interviews
  • HIV stigma: understand the causes, forms and consequences of HIV-related stigma and exploring the needs for further interventions – qualitative and quantitative research
  • PrEP: needs assessment
  • VACCIM : research into the immune response after covid vaccination in patients with primary and secondary immune deficiencies
  • COVAAT: Soon after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the Dept of General Internal Medicine has set up clinical trials to study SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity in collaboration with the HIV Cure Research Lab. We further evaluate the effectiveness of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and camostat mesilate as an antiviral treatment. Research on the potential role of camostat in the treatment of covid in the ambulatory setting is still ongoing. We participate in a multicentre trial of rapid syndromic diagnostic testing for enhancing the quality of antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections at the Emergency Dept.
  • VASC infections: retrospective and prospective data collection on the treatment of vascular prosthetic infections in our hospital
  • Gender and TB services in Kenya: Exploring the divergent outcomes of tuberculosis treatment in Kenya, stratified by gender
  • FasciCoM : Multidisciplinary assessment to control Fasciolasis in Vietnam
  • MDR TB Bukavu : assessment of rifampicine and multidrug resistant tuberculosis in South Kivu province DR Congo
  • High risk population assessment in Papua New Guinea : Gaps in HIV Testing and Treatment Among Female Sex Workers, MSM and IV drug users

 HIV Studies

  • 2DR study: phase 4 study to compare SOC 3-component and 2-component antiretroviral therapy in stable HIV patients to look at the effect on metabolic, viral and immunological markers.
  • Study of quality of life, quality of care and neurocognitive status in HIV patients: screening study of all HIV patients in follow-up with the aim of identifying problems and developing care pathways to better address them within the convention
  • anal screening in risk HIV patients to prevent anal cancers using a screening algorithm in collaboration with Prof. De Looze.
  • Implementation of LAM in HIV treatment

HIV Cure Research Centre

The HIV Cure Research Centre (HCRC) performs research towards an HIV cure and SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity and vaccines efficacy.

Its goal is to contribute to the development of novel cure strategies. Although the group was only founded in 2010, the HCRC currently consists of 25 people, and has published key publications in the field of HIV-1 reservoirs in journals such as eLife, PLOS Pathogens, Lancet HIV, Cell Host & Microbe and more. We frequently engage in international collaborations, which resulted in close connections with leading scientists in the HIV-1 field. One of which is Mathias Lichterfeld.

Furthermore, our group managed to establish a platform to collect in depth tissue samples from HIV+ patients over the past couple of years. More specifically via leucapheresis, lymph node excision, gut biopsies, lumbar puncture and (more) in collaboration with a patient ‘clinical research guiding group’. In addition, our group has pioneered HIV quantification based on ddPCR platforms whereby we currently move towards in depth qualitative characterization of the viral reservoir. Approximately 3 years ago, we initiated a HIV integration site and HIV full-length sequencing at our lab. All this technology is fully operational today.

More recently, we also focus on SARS-CoV-2 vaccination efficacy and pathogenicity.