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Frederik Van den Broeck

  • Users of research expertise:Short bio

    Frederik Van den Broeck graduated in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Leuven in 2009. In 2010, he was awarded a VLADOC PHD fellowship to study the disease outbreak of intestinal schistosomiasis in Northern Senegal, which is one of the most devastating epidemics of schistosomiasis ever described. To this end, he used nuclear and mitochondrial markers to understand the origin and transmission of the worm parasites locally among hosts and more globally in West-Africa. He obtained his PhD degree at the University of Leuven in May 2014.

    Since then, he is a post-doctoral researcher specialized in evolutionary genomics within two units at ITM, namely the Unit of Molecular Parasitology led by Prof. JC Dujardin and the Unit of Veterinary Protozoology led by Prof. J. Van Den Abbeele. Frederik was awarded a Research Grant from the Research Foundation Flanders (2016), and a post-doctoral mandate (2016) and a Pump Priming Project (2017) from the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation for developing novel molecular and computational tools to characterize and understand the most complex mitochondrial genome on Earth, namely that of the protozoan kinetoplast.

    Research interests

    Frederik is mainly interested in applying evolutionary genomics to understand the (population) biology of tropical parasites that are often difficult to isolate. Genomics - the study of an organisms' DNA - is particularly useful as it helps to understand how parasites spread in nature, and how they cope with novel environmental conditions such as continuous drug pressure. Genomics provides the power to identify and study genes that are of biomedical relevance, such as genes involved in drug resistance or virulence, ultimately providing new routes for controlling or eliminating diseases.

    He is mainly working on neglected tropical diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia), cutaneous leishmaniasis (espundiauta), Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and Animal African Trypanosomiasis (nagana).

    Research projects
    • Genomic consequences of hybridization in parasitic protozoa (T. congolenseL. braziliensis / L. peruviana, including the study of heteroplasmy and biparental inheritance of mitochondrial genomes.
    • Complexity and evolution of mitochondrial genomes in Kinetoplastids, including development of novel computational tools.
    • Phylo-genomics of L. braziliensis and L. peruviana, including LRV (Leishmania RNA virus) co-evolution and the role of genomic erosion in diminishing pathogenicity of Muco-Cutaneous Leishmaniasis.