Join the fight and help us discover the genetic basis of ALS. Start or support a local initiative to raise funds. Project MinE, make it yours!
The Leuven ALS center combines the diagnosis and care for ALS patients with clinical and basic research activities. Clinical research includes studies of genetics, imaging, electrophysiology and biomarkers of ALS as well as phase I-III clinical trials. Basic research activities are geared towards the generation of small animal models, rodent models and stem cell models for ALS, which are used to identify and validate molecular targets for the treatment of this disease.
ALS research takes place within the Vesalius Research Center (VIB Leuven) and within the University Hospital in Leuven (KU Leuven). The Neuromuscular Reference Center is a referral center for ALS patients and coordinates the care for people with ALS. An international collaboration that aims for a better understanding of the genetic causes of ALS will be an important step in the fight against this devastating disease. That is why the Belgian ALS researchers and the ALS Liga are participating in Project MinE.
Thus far, fundraising for Project MinE in Belgium has already raised enough to analyse over 25 Belgian DNA samples, a great start! In addition, the ALS Liga has found a well-known and high-profile ambassador for the project in Belgium: the President of the European Council, Mr. Herman van Rompuy. Next to Mr. Van Rompuy the Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet now has joined the project as an ambassador!
The goal for Belgium is to map 750 DNA profiles. Therefore we need € 1.462.500. Meanwhile a part of this amount has been collected. But much more is needed. In addition, the ALS Liga has found well-known and high-profile ambassadors for the project in Belgium: the President of the European Council, Mr. Herman van Rompuy. Next to Mr. Van Rompuy the Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has also joined the project as an ambassador!
Elected as the first full-time President of the European Council in November 2009, Herman Van Rompuy took office when the Lisbon Treaty came into force on 1 December 2009. In 2012, he was re-elected for a second term starting on 1 June 2012 and running until 30 November 2014.
At the time of his first election, Herman Van Rompuy was Prime Minister of Belgium. Prior to that he had served in Belgium as Speaker of the House of Representatives (2007-2008) and in several government positions, including as Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Budget (1993-1999), Minister of State (2004) and Secretary of State for Finance and Small Businesses (1988).
A former economist at the National Bank of Belgium, Herman Van Rompuy began his political career in 1973 as national vice-president of his party’s youth council. He has held various responsibilities within his party and in the Belgian Parliament, serving in turn as Senator (1988-1995) and Member of Parliament (1995-2009).
Herman Van Rompuy holds a Bachelor in Philosophy, and a Master in Applied Economics from the university KU Leuven. He was born in Etterbeek, Belgium, on 31 October 1947, and is married with Geertrui Windels; they have four children and four grandchildren.
Belgian stopper Simon Mignolet bolstered Liverpool’s goalkeeping ranks when he completed a switch from Barclays Premier League side Sunderland in June 2013.
Despite dreams of playing in an outfield position, the 25-year-old started his career with hometown club Sint-Truiden between the posts and progressed quickly through the youth levels. In total Mignolet made 104 appearances for Sint-Truiden and contributed as the Belgian team achieved promotion to the top flight during the 2008-09 campaign by winning the second division title. Remarkably, Simon actually scored a goal for the team during that season. In a match at Ronse in April 2009, the ‘keeper stepped up to attempt a penalty kick and converted the rebound after his initial effort was blocked.
Growing in confidence and developing an imposing presence as the last line of defence, Mignolet played 39 league matches the following year to help Sint-Truiden finish fifth and enter the end-of-season play-offs. Some of Europe’s biggest clubs were beginning to circle around the promising stopper and it was Sunderland who were victorious in the race for the Belgian’s signature; a fee of around £2million was agreed. With Craig Gordon established as No.1 for the Black Cats, Mignolet was expected to begin life at the Stadium of Light on the bench. But an injury to the Scot provided his new teammate with an opportunity to impress. Simon never looked back; his reflex shot-stopping, courage in one-on-one scenarios and command of the penalty area were highly appreciated and he rapidly cemented his first-choice spot on Wearside. International recognition deservedly arrived for the Belgian during 2011 and he made his senior debut for the Red Devils in a Euro 2012 qualifying victory at Austria in March of that year.
He has now made 13 appearances for the national team – including a friendly against England in June 2012 – and is battling compatriot Thibaut Courtois for a potential starting berth at the World Cup next year. Although Sunderland veered dangerously close to relegation at times, 2012-13 proved to be Mignolet’s most consistent campaign since arriving on English shores. The stopper was ever-present in the league, playing all 38 league fixtures, and kept an impressive 11 clean sheets – enough to earn joint-fifth in the Premier League shut-out rankings. Mignolet’s ability to prevent goals was evident in the number of saves he produced last season – 149. That number was second only to Jussi Jaaskelainen among all of the goalkeepers in the top flight. Naturally, Simon began to attract interest from numerous clubs throughout England and further afield; Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool were reportedly included in those with a strong interest as summer speculation raged. Rodgers formalised that interest in June 2013 and Mignolet completed his switch to Anfield after signing in at Melwood on June 25.
Mignolet kicked off his first season at Anfield as the Reds’ first-choice stopper and enjoyed a dream debut when his penalty save in the closing minutes preserved a 1-0 home triumph over Stoke.
The Leuven ALS center combines the diagnosis and care for ALS patients with clinical and basic research activities. Clinical research includes studies of genetics, imaging, electrophysiology and biomarkers of ALS as well as phase I-III clinical trials. Our basic research activities are geared towards the generation of small animal models, rodent models and stem cell models for ALS, which we use to identify and validate molecular targets for the treatment of this disease.
As clinical neurologist I was awarded a clinical investigatorship from the Flemish Research Foundation, which allows me to focus on ALS research within the Vesalius Research Center, VIB, Leuven. Within the University Hospital in Leuven (KU Leuven), I am currently directing the Neuromuscular Reference Center, which is a referral center for ALS patients and coordinates the care for people with ALS. I strongly believe that an international collaboration that aims for a better understanding of the genetic causes of ALS will be an important step in the fight against this devastating disease.