Nick van gastel, new chercheur qualifié FNRS


On December 7th, the FNRS board of directors published the list of fundings granted to projects previously submitted by researchers from the 6 universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. A good part of these funds go to UCLouvain: "In each category of funding, UCLouvain is systematically the leader for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation", says Jean-Christophe Renauld, prorector for research. And de Duve Institute is not to be outdone, since our researchers have obtained a total of 47 grants and fellowships, including a Chercheur Qualifié tenure to Nick van Gastel. A great recognition of the quality of their research!

Fellowships, grants and credits in 2021: some figures

The Institute's researchers have reaped a good harvest in almost all categories of FNRS funding, since no less than 47 grants have been obtained:

In the framework of the EOS (Excellence Of Science) call, which requires collaboration between Flemish- and French-speaking universities, 19 of the 37 funded projects involve at least one team from UCLouvain, including 4 teams from de Duve Institute. Five EOS projects are even coordinated by UCLouvain researchers, including one at the Institute by Thomas Michiels.

The FNRS has also announced various grants to individual researchers (research credits or projects, purchase of small equipment, scientific impulse mandate, etc.): 117 of these projects involve UCLouvain representatives. Among these, 15 are researchers from the Institute.

Thanks to the granting of FRIA doctoral fellowships, some 45 doctoral students will be able to begin their thesis at UCLouvain, including 7 at the Institute.

Finally, out of the 17 "large equipment" that the FNRS will finance, 6 will be installed in UCLouvain premises, including one at the Institute thanks to the project of Benoit Van den Eynde.

Depending on the category, out of the 21 research institutes at UCLouvain, de Duve Institute alone accounts for between 13% and 21% of the funding obtained.

In addition to this success, our researchers obtained a few months ago from Télévie 6 classic credits, 2 PDRs and 5 renewals of grants.

Nick van Gastel and his team (from left to right : Laaouimir Lofti, Célina Nielsen, Hernan Tirado Cardenas, Fleur Leguay and Nick van Gastel)

Nick van Gastel, new Chercheur Qualifié FNRS

Nick van Gastel arrived at de Duve Institute in July 2020 thanks to a grant from the Institute. His portrait in a few lines extracted from a UCLouvain news.

What is your background so far?

After studying Bioengineering at Ghent University, I obtained my PhD in Biomedical Sciences in the laboratory of Prof. Geert Carmeliet at KULeuven in 2013, during which I studied skeletal stem cells and bone regeneration. I continued for 2 years as a postdoctoral researcher in the same lab studying metabolic regulation of skeletal stem cells. Then, I continued my scientific training at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in the United States in the laboratory of Prof. David Scadden, where I performed research on the metabolic regulation of hematopoietic stem cells and leukemic cells. Since July 2020, I have been a group leader at de Duve Institute, where we study metabolic regulation and the role of the bone marrow microenvironment in blood cell formation and leukemia.

How did you feel when you found out you were a Chercheur Qualifié?

I am delighted to have been selected as a Chercheur Qualifié, and really grateful to UCLouvain and FNRS for believing in my research program and allowing me to develop it further as an independent researcher.

What is the ultimate goal of your research?

My research goal is to understand how cellular communication via metabolites, an ancient form of cellular crosstalk from an evolutionary point of view, regulates blood cell production in the bone marrow. By also characterizing how this communication is disrupted in blood malignancies such as leukemia, we hope to develop new therapeutic strategies.

A more detailed portrait has just been published by the FNRS, available for download here: