Cathérine Verfaillie

Stem cell research

First Odysseus project prof. Cathérine Verfaillie, Stem cell institute, K.U.Leuven.

Nominated by K.U.Leuven and recommended by the International Odysseus Jury, prof. Catherine Verfaillie has been assigned the first Odysseus project by the Board of Trustees of FWO to establish the Stem Cell Institute of K.U.Leuven.

The jury gives a very positive appreciation on the following grounds :

  • Stem cell research is a hot topic in biomedicine.
  • Lots of groups have entered the field, there’s a lot of competition but Prof. Verfaillie is a pioneer in this field. Her discovery of a set of adult stem cells is of high potential and does not have ethical constraints.
  • She is a good supervisor, her personality attractive, she trained a lot of people, knows how to distribute knowledge and has a vast network.
  • Her research is very innovative and risk full but innovative aspects always cause risks.
  • Prof. Verfaillie has a good track record, she has her own niche and she’s an original, excellent investigator, with a lot of excellent publications.
  • It’s a real brain gain.


The proposal is well composed and has 3 levels :

  • stem cell biology: fundamental
  • immunology/rejection: translation to clinical practice
  • technological platform

Research is translational and has a very high potential to become important for therapy (diabetes, vascular diseases).

The requested budget is logic and necessary.

The K.U.Leuven is an excellent host university with a lot of infrastructure.