GSK Chair on Eosinophilic Respiratory Diseases


Asthma and COPD are chronic respiratory diseases that place a considerable burden on society. Asthma is a heterogeneous disease that encompasses several clinical asthma phenotypes, with important differences in age at onset, severity of airway obstruction, frequency of exacerbations, quality of life, presence or absence of allergy, and prevalence and type of co-morbidities. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterised by an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to harmful substances and by a progressive decline in lung function. The prevalence, morbidity and mortality of COPD is increasing worldwide, with cigarette smoking and air pollution as the main risk factors. There is also considerable heterogeneity of clinical presentation and disease progression within COPD (e.g. chronic bronchitis versus emphysema COPD phenotype).


The chair has three main objectives.

First, we will expand the phenotypic characterisation of an existing human lung tissue biobank at the Department of Pulmonary Diseases to include parameters of eosinophilic inflammation and asthma. Secondly, we will identify the different eosinophil subsets in lung tissue from individuals with COPD and/or asthma and associate the number of eosinophils with clinical characteristics. Thirdly, we will investigate the distribution of the different eosinophil subsets in mouse models of asthma and COPD, as well as the effect of intervention studies modulating eosinophil function.

The results obtained will increase the value of the human lung tissue biobank and provide more insight into the heterogeneity of eosinophils, which may have important implications for the treatment of patients with eosinophilic airway diseases.






prof. Guy BrusselleProf. Guy Brusselle

Guy Brusselle obtained his medical degree (M.D.) at Ghent University in 1990. His research on the functional role of the cytokines interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-5 (IL-5) in allergic asthma earned him his PhD in 1997. As a pulmonologist with a keen clinical and scientific interest in asthma, severe asthma and COPD, he joined Ghent University Hospital (UZ Gent) in 2002.

Since 2008, he is professor of medicine at Ghent University, where he teaches "Study design" and "Immunopathology of respiratory diseases" to medical and biomedical students respectively. Since 2015, he has been teaching the course "Methods and design of clinical studies" to master's students in pharmaceutical sciences. Currently, he is head of the Laboratory for Translational Research of Obstructive Lung Diseases at Ghent University. From 2012 to 2015 he was employed by the European Respiratory Society (ERS) as Guidelines Director; and then from 2016 to 2019 as chairman of the ERS Science Council. Since 2017, he has been a member of the Scientific Committee of the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA).


prof. Tania MaesProf. Tania Maes

Tania Maes has a Master’s degree in Biotechnology (Ghent University, 1994). After her PhD in Biotechnology (Laboratory of Plant Genetics, Faculty of Science, Ghent University), she started her postdoctoral training at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the department of Pulmonary Diseases (Ghent University). Since 2015, she is a senior lecturer at the Department of Internal Diseases and Paediatrics, Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Ghent University. Her research focuses on the effects of environmental factors (indoor and outdoor air pollution and allergens) on the development of asthma.

Tania Maes is co-author of 71 A1 publications and has the Hirch index of 30 (Web of Science). She is an active member of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and is on the steering committee of the Basic Science group of the Belgian Respiratory Society (BeRS).

Chair Holder

Prof. Ken Bracke

Prof. Ken Bracke is a senior lecturer in the Department of Internal Medicine & Paediatrics at the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, where he is part of the 'Laboratory for Translational Research on Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases'. Prof. Bracke obtained the degree of Licentiate in Biotechnology in 1999, a Master in Biomedical and Clinical Engineering in 2001 and a PhD in Medical Sciences in 2007, all from Ghent University. Between 2008 and 2014, he was sponsored as a postdoctoral researcher by the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders. His research focuses on unravelling the immunological mechanisms responsible for both the onset and progression of COPD and has already resulted in more than 110 A1 publications. His work has been widely cited, with a total of more than 5200 citations and a Hirsch index of 41. Prof. Bracke has also received numerous academic awards. For example, in 2011 he received the 'AstraZeneca Foundation Award on Clinical and Translational Research in Pneumology' from the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders, in 2013 the 'Prof. Romain Pauwels Award' from the Belgian Society for Pneumology for the best international peer-reviewed article by a Belgian researcher, and in 2015 the 'Dr. G. Schamelhout-Koettlitz Award for Pneumology' from the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium.