Wim Trypsteen: The PhD project of Wim started in 2012 and is centered around long non-coding RNA discovery in HIV infection. This class of molecules form interesting targets because they have broad cellular functions and are linked to several human diseases. Therefore, this research can lead to new understandings of the HIV life cycle and the discovery of therapeutic targets.
Sofie Rutsaert: In the summer of 2014, Sofie joined the HCRC group. In her PhD, she focuses on the reminiscent virus present in patients, the viral reservoir. This reservoir is the cause of viral rebound when therapy is stopped. Therefore it is important to define the characteristics and size of this reservoir. On one hand she is optimizing the quantification of a marker of the reservoir, HIV DNA, in the blood cells, and on the other hand she aims to elucidate the clinical relevance of this marker.
Marie-Angélique De Scheerder: Marie-Angélique started her PhD at the HCRC in September 2014, combining her PhD with a medical specialization in General Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. This combination of Research and clinical care gave her the opportunity to start on a very interesting HIV reservoir study, where we look at the virus in different anatomic compartments in patients under long term cART. This will give us the possibility to get a better insight in which of these compartments are relevant for viral rebound at treatment interruption.
Clarissa Van Hecke: Clarissa started her PhD in September 2014. In this PhD project, she investigates the role of long non-coding RNAs in HIV replication. Long non-coding RNAs are a recently discovered class of molecules so the knowledge about their role in cells and diseases is still limited. This research can contribute to the further characterization of long non-coding RNAs and their specific functions, especially in HIV replication.
Sam Kint: In October 2015, Sam started his PhD project as a collaboration between the HCRC and BIOBIX (department of Mathematical Modelling, Statistics and Bioinformatics, faculty of bio-science engineering). He focusses on the role of the epigenetic marker DNA methylation on the establishment, maintenance and stability of the latency of the HIV-1 reservoir.
Basiel Cole: Basiel joined the HCRC as a PhD student in the summer of 2016, after completing his master thesis about the use of CRISPR/dCas9 for the reactivation of latent HIV. During his PhD project, he will investigate the role of clonal expansion of latently infected cells in the maintenance of the viral reservoir, in order to aid HIV-1 cure research. For this, Basiel will optimize an innovative assay, the Integration Site Loop Amplification (ISLA), to characterize viral integration sites in a number of patient samples.
Tinus Schynkel: In October 2017, Tinus started his PhD after completing a master thesis about the upregulation of HIV restriction factors with the use of CRISPR/dCas9. His PhD project is focused on understanding the role of long non-coding RNAs in HIV latency. This relatively new field of research in HIV biology could lead to new therapeutic targets.
Laurens Lambrechts: Laurens joined the HCRC lab in the summer of 2018. During his PhD, he wil focus of the development of a novel assay using novel third generation sequencing methods to characterize the viral reservoir and its persisting latency. The resulting assay could contribute to ease HIV-1 cure studies and allow for better follow up of HIV-1 infected patients.
Jozefien De Clercq: Jozefien joined the lab in October 2018, combining her PhD with a specialisation in Internal Medicine. The main focus of her research will be on in-depth virological and immunological characterisation of acute HIV seroconversion. With her medical background, she will help with the recruitment, sample collection and follow-up of patients enrolled in ongoing clinical trials.